Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Road rage

Yesterday morning, a Monday morning, started out like any other. I got my kids up, got them fed, helped them get dressed and with their hair, then dropped one off at preschool and the other at the bus stop. As the bus pulled away, so did I, off to work. I drive the same drive most mornings. I don't take the highway, but instead Friars Road, which is a three lane, relatively busy street that parallels Highway 8. It's not a bad commute, except for yesterday.

I was driving along, listening to my new Smash Ups CD (thank you, Jacquie!), when I heard a loud horn to my left side. Was I swerving into that lane? Maybe, it didn't feel like it, but maybe, so I waved as the person who beeped came up level with me. It was a middle-aged man in a little red sports car, and the look on his face was pure anger, and he was bitching me out (I couldn't hear him bitching me out, but I could see it).

So, using a tactic I learned from a woman at one of my first jobs at Candy Kitchen in Ocean City, Maryland, I waved more. (She told me that when a customer was rude, your only recourse was the "kill them with kindness," just be as sweet as pie to them. I've found the reaction can go two ways, either it diffuses their anger, or, sometimes, it ignites it. And truth be told, I was waving a little obnoxiously.)

Ol' sports car guy did not like this, not at all. In fact he disliked it so much he cut in front of me and came to a dead stop, on the middle of this three lane (six, if you're counting the other side) street at 8:30 AM on a weekday. It was hard to break in time. At this point, I admit, the wave changed to flipping him off, with both hands. I mean, Wtf???? I also started laying on the horn, long and loud. He was turning around looking at me, obviously screaming. He finally starts driving, pointing repeatedly, with big arm motions, to the side of the road, AS IF, I'm going to pull over to talk to this big pissed off guy in his little red sports car.

I try to keep my distance from him, but then a light ahead turns red. When everyone is stopped at the light, he gets OUT of his car, with his cheesy little headphone on, in his sweat suit, and walks up to my car with is finger out waggling at me, screaming at me, right next to my car door -- in front of all sorts of other cars with people in them. I was shocked. Obviously, I locked my doors, and I also turned my music up so I had no idea of the specifics of his rant, and just looked at him. It was fucking scary. I wrote his license plate number down when he got back into his car, but I doubt I can do anything with it, plus if I could, he's probably the kind of nut that would come and burn down my house.

I emailed my husband when I arrived at work, and he told me I should have laid on the horn the whole time he was out of his car and picked up my cell phone and called 911. He's probably right, but you know, I just don't have much experience with this type of crazy.

It was frightening though, and makes me wonder what's going wrong in the world. Has modern, urban life got us so wound up that we'll snap over the slightest infraction? I saw a similar incident the day before (which I'll have you know, I was NOT involved in). Again it was a middle-aged man, this time in the parking lot of Home Depot, freaking out at a (woman) employee of the store. She called out something to him from a distance, and he started yelling and waving his hands back at her. I was in my car by this point, so don't know what was being said, but whatever it was, it had this approximately 55 year old guy running, yes, running toward her, screaming. He looked ridiculous, like an overgrown boy gone wild. How could his Sunday morning shopping experience have gone so bad?

Obviously, I don't know. But it's clear to me we need a lot more Gandhi and a lot less Mike Tyson out there in the world.


Anonymous said...

I had a similar experience many many years ago in Phoenix, AZ. I learned then to never respond to anyone honking or gesturing at me on the road... I ignore them at all cost... better safe than sorry because there's a lot of nut cases out there and it's only getting worse each year. Only one of the reasons we moved out of the city to the quieter country life.

Sorry this happened to you. I'm sure it was very unsettling to say the least.

Take care.
The Blue Ridge Gal

That One Guy said...

Amen, Sistah... well said.

Rita said...

That is so scary. I agree that you shouldn't respond to people honking or gesturing, but even then it's sometimes not enough. We had a similar experience outside Vancouver, and my husband did nothing wrong.

Pickles and Dimes said...

That is scary! I would've done exactly what you did. Although it would've been fun to make a huge show of taking down his license plate and deliberately dialing 911 right in front of him. Jerk. Karma says he dies of a heart attack by age 50.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Yuck, that is creepy. Can you imagine having that kind of anger, and acting on it in such an aggressive way? Sucks to know that people like this are out there, especially on Friar's Road!

Glad it ended without further incident. I wonder what you did to piss him off!


Anonymous said...

remember when I left your house 2 years ago and pulled up next to the guy who was beating up that girl in the car?! I was relieved when I called to report it that they said they arrested him due to numerous calls.
No need for such anger...especially if you live in a sunny place like San Diego!

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Really, Beth? This is such a crazy story. Even though I tip the scales way further on the Buddha side than the Russell Crowe side, I find it hard to believe someone would -- quite literally -- risk death because, um, someone swerved into his lane? That bastard is going to pop a blood vessel some day. Let's just hope he doesn't do it in his car, and piss someone else off when it happens....



The Stiletto Mom said...

Did you ever see that movie Falling Down? It sounds like that, how truly scary.

I try so hard not to react to people like that bc you just never know when someone is going to snap.

I'm so glad you are okay!!!

Nancy said...

Usually when I do something stupid, in error, I blow 'em a kiss and mouth I'm sorry. Seems to work.

BUT if they responded like this nut-job... I'd call 911 and hope like heck my foot didn't "accidentally" slip and run the son-of-a-bitch over!

Anonymous said...

When chicks cut me off, they all pretend they don't know what they did either. It is so annoying. How did you expect him to interpret an exaggerated wave? If you really want to defuse the situation, just gesture that you're sorry.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Roger's back! We missed you, buddy.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

So how should I gesture I'm sorry, Rog? With my left middle finger or my right?


Anonymous said...

Beth.... just take your hands off the wheel and gesture with both middle fingers... HAH!

Anonymous said...

Left middle finger or right middle finger? Tsk, tsk. That sounds more like Tyson than Gandhi. To paraphrase the latter, an ear for an ear only makes the whole world deaf. Oh that was good.

If you were really feeling frisky you should have motioned you were ready a confrontation and that he should follow you...to the SDPD station right there off of Friar's.

Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.

-Sun Tzu

P.S. I know the Roger you're talking about, and he is definitely a cool guy, but this is not him. I am flattered to be mistaken for him, so thank you.