Monday, 17 June 2013

Hey! What's up on our roads? What's going on out there?

I’m having a ‘Howard Beale from Network (1976)’ moment again …

First ... let me just state this for the record: I LOVE to drive! I just LOVE it. I'm in no way reckless, I'm happy to abide by speed limits and the rules of the road. Now, having said that ... I have a question.
Actually a few questions ...
What the hell is going on with some people? What’s the problem? Why is it that as soon as they get behind the wheel of a car – they turn into demons?
I’ve already heard [and read] several possible reasons that could account for road rage:
drivers got up late and they’re in a rush to make their daily commute [try getting out of bed earlier].
Passengers they might be traveling with are pissing them off – for whatever reason [pull over somewhere safe and refuse to move until they behave].
They’re tired [try going to bed earlier the night before].
Something pissed them off that day [doesn’t give you right to take it out on other drivers].
They’ve taken meds, or had a drink [in which case you have no right driving a car in the first place].
They’re nervous drivers [so get some extra lessons to build up your skills and confidence].
Pissed off with their life [oh, yeah? … like any of us have it perfect. If you’re unhappy with your life, then identify the parts that are the problem and fix it … but don’t take it out on other drivers].

The reason I writing this is that last week, after getting the sharp end of another driver’s tongue, it got me thinking.

First time it happened … I paused to give way to traffic at a T-junction. It was a busy main road. A transit van pulled up behind me and the driver thought it was smart to honk his horn repeatedly, in a useless attempt to force me to move out onto the road. There was no way I was going to risk that, especially not at his behest and impatience. I looked back at him in the mirror and was shocked to see him smirking with both hands clasped behind his head. He looked to be in his late-20s, or early-30s, old enough to have more sense. I couldn’t see for sure, but I reckoned that he had to have had his foot raised and was pressing down on the horn with that. Idiot! I ignored him, even with other drivers and pedestrians looking my way to see what all the commotion was over. I waited for a safe gap in the traffic and then – and only then – moved out of the junction.

Second time … was - again - while paused at a T-junction, in a different part of the city. This time the guy driving the Volvo behind me didn’t honk his horn, he swung out into the opposing lane, pulled up alongside my car, glared right at me and did what comedian Billy Connolly rightfully referred to as: ‘the disapproving mouth’: he puckered his lips up so tight his mouth resembled what an asshole might look like with a slice of lemon stuck up it! Then, after all that, he still had to wait at the junction – in the wrong lane! – because the cross traffic was too heavy at that moment and there wasn’t a safe enough gap between vehicles to move out onto the road. When I did pull out, he made a left turn, heading in the same direction I was. I followed for less than half a mile and then saw him pull into a garage for fuel … like he couldn’t have just waited patiently at the junction!

Third time was last week … I turned a corner and there was a middle-aged woman parked in the road, just sitting there looking right me. I couldn’t tell what she was going to do so I pulled up partially alongside her, but I couldn’t pass because the rear end of her vehicle was over the white line and blocking my way. I didn’t want to swerve and mount the curb, so I slowed to a stop, looked at her, and gestured that I wanted to drive forward.

She glared at me and shouted: “I WANT TO GET INTO MY DRIVEWAY! MOVE YOUR F*****G CAR, YOU F*****G B*****D!”

Wow! Nice lady!
I glanced at the front of her car and, sure enough, she didn’t have her direction indicators on. I was off school the day they taught mind-reading, so consequently I had no idea why she was parked the way she had been, with the rear of her car at such an angle over the white line and, in the seconds that followed, while I was still stunned and wondering why the hell she was being so rude, nasty, and letting fly at me with foul language, before I could tell her that she was in fact BLOCKING MY WAY, she moved her car and drove around me.

I didn’t say anything, or make any kind of hand gesture … although I admit it did pass my mind … and I’ve been told that I resemble the pic below:

But I didn't flip her 'the finger' - even though tempted - I just let it go and continued on my way.
However, I thought about it through the rest of the day.
Was there any need for her to sound off at me like that?
Why all the aggression, bad attitude and foul language?
Why did she have a short fuse?
That incident was mild, but it was still an example of road rage.
Many people would have given her a mouthful right back. Maybe something along the lines of:

“Hey! You [EXPLETIVE DELETED] [EXPLETIVE DELETED]! You just made my [EXPLETIVE DELETED] day. I don’t know what your [EXPLETIVE DELETED] problem is and I don’t much [EXPLETIVE DELETED] care. We’re total [EXPLETIVE DELETED] strangers. I’ve never seen you before in my [EXPLETIVE DELETED] life. After this brief, [EXPLETIVE DELETED] unpleasant encounter, I sincerely [EXPLETIVE DELETED] hope I never see your miserable [EXPLETIVE DELETED] face again. Good [EXPLETIVE DELETED] luck to you. I wish you [EXPLETIVE DELETED] well, even though you’re obviously a [EXPLETIVE DELETED] [EXPLETIVE DELETED]. Maybe next [EXPLETIVE DELETED] time you won’t take up the entire [EXPLETIVE DELETED] road, stick to your own [EXPLETIVE DELETED] lane and maybe even [EXPLETIVE DELETED] think to use your [EXPLETIVE DELETED] direction indicator. [EXPLETIVE DELETED] you very much! Now [EXPLETIVE DELETED] off!” 

Inconsiderate and careless drivers do annoy me, especially those who drive one-handed, a phone, map, sandwich, drink – whatever – in the other. If you want to make a call, check your direction, or have a meal – get off the road, park up somewhere first! Also those who don’t maintain a safe distance – there’s no need whatsoever to drive like your front bumper is welded to my exhaust pipe. I don’t really buy the ‘territoriality’ argument of drivers treating their car as their territory. Your car is on a road … a road you have to share with other drivers … a road you don’t own … so get used to the idea!
Get your mind right before you set off on your journey. If something’s bothering you, leave it at home, or stay off the road until you're calm enough to drive. If you’re on the road and someone or something pisses you off – then KEEP CALM. Take a breath. BREATHE! THINK before you do anything you might regret! Maintain a legal speed. Try having a sense of humor about things. If someone flips a finger and insults you – let it go! Ignore them. Slow down, let them pass, and give them the road. Be the bigger and more mature person.
To those who have already lashed out at me on the road – and those I have yet to encounter – whatever the reason – go to anger management groups … but don’t give me your road rage!

As a movie buff I recommend the following two movies on the subject of road rage and its consequences:
Duel (1971) and Road Rage (1999):

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