Monday, July 18, 2011

ROAD RAGE


Some of you all ready know that I am a pretty passive person. It takes a lot to rile me and what  usually can, involves child or animal abuse. I can generally see both sides of a situation and have quite a set of butt calluses from years of fence sitting. Yep, I am a wuss.

I am always astounded when I hear about  road rage. I have just never been able to understand it. I am a careful, patient and defensive driver so I rarely put myself into a position where road rage is even an option. I will yield before getting upset and am usually very forgiving.

Moving to this small town, I have found that road rage is pretty much nonexistent. The people in this town really practice  marvelous  road manners and even the tourists seem to be kind and patient behind the wheel. Horns are quiet except when greeting a friend, and middle fingers remained curled around the steering wheel.

I really thought I was immune but the other day, I got a bit of a comeuppance. I was taking a bypass around  down town on a residential street. When I got to the stop sign to turn left, I was surprised to see heavy traffic in both lanes.

It is rare to see any heavy traffic in this small town except during school hours and this was mid-morning.  I had just reached a full stop and was looking for my opportunity, when I heard a horn behind me. Not loud and blaring but more of a “hi friend” toot.

I looked back to wave but did not recognize the large pick up. Thinking it was probably an accidental toot, I went back to studying the road for a break in the traffic.

Again the toot, this time not friendly but insistent. There was no way I could enter the road, the cars were coming in both lanes about 45 miles per hour and 2 car lengths apart.

I started to feel  something quite strange. I felt irritation and indignation, especially when the tooting continued. Red blood was climbing up my anger thermometer.

Years ago, I dated a guy who was 6'5” and weighed about 280 pounds. There was no fat on him, this guy was a tank. One night we were at a stop sign when a similar honking occurred. Dale, put the car in park, slowly got his massive bulk out of his too small car and walked back to the honker.

Tapping on the window, he calmly said,”Are you trying to get my attention?” The tooter being an average sized human, just looked down and studied his floor mats while rapidly shaking his head side to side.

Dale smiled sweetly and ambled back to our car. Very slowly, he pulled through the intersection. His being a tank, made it possible to pull that off. There was no yelling, just some subtle intimidation.  I have always thought that was such a cool way to solve a potentially nasty moment.  Of course, if the little guy had a gun--- well it would have been a different story.

That moment with Dale came to me as the jerk  behind me kept up the tooting. (Yes I thought "jerk" cause the pressure in me was building. ) I felt myself really getting angry and I desperately wished I were 6'5” instead of being barely five foot. There was a  parking lot right by the intersection branch so I pulled into it quickly,  slammed on the breaks and had my hand on the door to get out. All five foot of me was hot.  

With a squeal of his tires and the screech of the tires of the car that almost hit him, he turned right and disappeared down the road.

I had felt my very first road rage and I was astonished that I was capable. For a while, as I cooled down, I blamed it on the blistering heat , the bad economy and generally worrying times. I was searching for some excuse for both of our behaviors. I was not pleased with either of us. 

Before long, my passive nature returned and I rationalized that he probably had a personal emergency and was just desperate to get home, maybe he wasn't a total jerk.  See, there I go, up on the fence again. Still, now I know I can be knocked off of that perch just like everyone else. Deep breath Patti.

 Have you experienced road rage? Are you a giver or receiver?

42 comments :

  1. I have experienced it. But I avoid situations where it might occur. I, like you, drive defensively and give lots of room to the Class A personalities.

    But somethimes, stuff happens, as it did in your situation, and RR cannot be avoided.

    On one occasion, I got out of my car at a freeway toll booth and walked back to the car behind me, which contained two men. I couldn't believe I did that, but the moment overwhelmed me. Lucky for me, they were so shocked I challenged them that they became docile and apologized for bumping me from behind three times.

    These days, folks carry guns, and RR is something to avoid at all costs. But your recent experience just proves that you, too, are human.

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  2. I see road rage every day here in South Florida. People are in a hurry and it's ugly. And since I'm a cautious driver, I get honked at a lot, but I feel it's better than getting in an accident. But it's definitely unpleasant. Glad you didn't end up in a fight with that guy.

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  3. Oh my! I also am glad you got out of that unscathed. Of course I have experienced it, but I usually have little difficulty accommodating an irritating driver. Usually I get anxious when someone comes up and tailgates. I will pull over and let them pass on a small road, and they are easy to see coming on the freeway and I get out of their way quickly. The other day I was pleased to see one of them pulled over by a cop, getting a ticket. I smiled.

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  4. I'm a bad tempered driver, always in a rush etc. but I wouldn't start honking someone else like that. I could do with calming down a bit in the car though.

    I never want to get into a fight though, it's just not worth the risk.

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  5. I am certain I have given a good bit of road rage, and I have experienced it a time or two - but it never got really bad. You were lucky that you had a place to pull into, instead of having to screech out into traffic.

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  6. Ah! You probably avoided an unpleasant confrontation, Patti. You are very charitable in thinking that he had a personal emergency; most likely he was just a bully. Good riddance, and all that.

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  7. I am not a driver so the only time I have experienced RR is when I have been a pasenger to some one elses. I remember a friend being tooted when navigating a very busy roundabout in London. She was getting redder and redder but could not take her gaze from the many lanes of traffic, although the toots were getting more frequent, when she suddenly screamed " Get your head out Ang and swear loudly for me ...NOW" ...I obeyed with out thinking lol. Normally I am very like you and the fence is the best place to sit.

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  8. I live in the city and see it all the time. My husband was hot tempered...I must tell this story some time. I personally experienced grocery store rage a few months back... A guy behind me in line was crazy and saying things and being obnoxious. They're everywhere!

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  9. Since moving to the high country....none....but in Florida....OH BABY!!!....you know what it's like down there...!!

    Enjoy

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  10. Yes, Dale would intimidate. I heard another good one like that, that perhaps maybe a 5 ft gal could use. Get out of your car, walk back to the honker and say sweetly, If you want to get in my car and cross the highway, I'll sit in yours and honk the horn."
    Boy, those honkers make me nervous.
    Manzanita@Wannabuyaduck

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  11. Red blood was climbing up my anger thermometer. I love that line. I'm a wuss too, Patti. I think it's much healthier to be a wuss than someone who is quick tempered. I would have pulled over too.

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  12. Oh yes! My Australian daughter and her two little ones( 3 years and 16 months old) was staying with us, as my husband was very ill and dying. We wanted to do some shopping in another village, but my daughter drove carefully as she was not more used to drivin on the right hand side.There was a man who wanted to pass, first he was hooting and at the same time tailgating. When he passed us on the narrow road he drove right in front of us, then he suddenly slammed on the brakes, so that we almost bumped into his car.I was so angry that I shouted to him, that he was a real jerk and that we had two little kids on the backseats. He yelled back. He was about between 60 and 70 years old.All in all it was a nasty experience.

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  13. I have seen it from both sides. Once I got so upset at a guy who pulled out in front of me and almost hit me.. I felt some rage inside of myself that I had never felt...Luckily, I didn't act on it.

    AND--from the other side, once I had my grandson in the car and had stopped at a light. The light changed while I was talking to my grandson. The man BLEW his horn --so I raised both of my hands up --as if to say OKAY I'm GOING... WELL--he got very angry and pulled in front of me as if he was going to get out... Scared me to death... I hurriedly got around him and turned down another street... Luckily, he didn't follow me...BUT--from that time on, I have never blown my horn or raised my finger or anything at someone in another car. That guy could have had a gun... Scary!

    One never knows what kind of mood another person is in...
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  14. My friend when I think of you wuss never enters my mind.
    As you know I try my best to be a passive person but Ms Pearl interferes at moments like you had with the JERK! lol
    Only 5ft myself it is not good to have Ms Pearl around in these situations.
    Love coming over hear and broadening my vocabulary...comeuppance. hahaha
    Love ya
    Maggie

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  15. BOTH but I have done some stupid maneuvers which would encourage road rage in anyone near me. Usually I am yacking too much and not paying attention to what I should be.

    However, I have been given the flag wave for simply going the speed limit. That is what encourages double road rage. the giver and the receiver, especially if one is doing the right thing.

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  16. Dear Patti--What you experienced was not road rage, merely road aggravation. I drive the freeways of Los Angeles where road rage can end in a shooting--though I've never seen one--or an accident. Last night we saw a car lying on its' side but I don't know if that was road rage or just stupid driving.
    PS--I loved Manzi's suggestion.

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  17. I'm a pretty calm driver, but my husband isn't. When we're in the car together he spends the entire time talking to the other drivers, telling them they're not in a parking lot, they must be a blonde on a cellphone. All this time he's tailgating.

    Someday I'll tell him we're going to take two cars.

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  18. Fences are great places to perch as long as you don't have a bird sitting on a telephone wire overhead.

    As I no longer commute every day I do not experience real road rage. Besides, every other driver in VA has a gun in his glove compartment, just like "LA Story" with Steve Martin (the film).

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  19. I am a defensive driver and try to be courteous always. I have had road rage a few times while traveling to another state to visit family. A few truck drivers have brought my blood temps up a few times.

    The only time I acted on my road rage though was years ago when some teenage boys were following me as I was taking the kids to school.

    They would come up real fast to the back of my car with tires squealing and stop just before hitting my bumper. I let them get by with it for a few times before I stopped in the middle of the road, got out and let them know they had better stop or I would throw on my brakes, let them rear end me and then they could deal with the police. I told them more but will not go into it here on your blog.

    They stayed behind me driving sensible for awhile after that. Then they passed me on the wrong side driving on the shoulder of the road.

    They went through a church parking lot and across the lawn of the church slinging grass and dirt everywhere and then drove back on to the road two cars in front of me.

    I reported them to the school and they notified the authorities.

    I think we all at some time or another may have had at least mild road rage.

    I would never get out of my car to talk to anyone now days...too dangerous and too many guns,ball bats and knives out there now.

    Hugs

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  20. When someone behind me honks I tend to sit there longer than necessary. And when the person behind me tailgates I tend to slow down. Passive aggressive behavior might not be becoming but it suits me. :) blessings, marlene

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  21. Hi Patti,

    I'm like you, and I pull over to let crazies pass me when possible. Glad that parking lot was an option.

    I have gotten angry at others for putting the rest of us in danger ... we have a lot of highway travel where we live, and people just go too fast, especially on the snow and ice during the winter.

    I am waiting to be the first on the scene of the idiot who passes us at 85 from California, because "Hell, I have 4 wheel drive!" and then crashes, taking out innocents. Well, sorry, 4 wheel drive doesn't help you on ice, dude. I imagine myself pulling up, calling 911 and saying, "You stupid SOB!" Instead of the usual, oh, are you okay?

    Glad you are safe; hope your hot weather breaks soon.

    Take care,

    Kathy M.

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  22. Patti, I'm so glad you ended up safe! Road rage can be so dangerous for all concerned. I saw a lot of it in L.A. while commuting on the dreaded 405 (the site of the recent Carmeggedon) but would try to calm myself with deep breaths, peaceful thoughts and soothing music playing during my daily commute. I chose, as much as possible, not to participate. Out here in rural Arizona, the traffic isn't bad at all, but some people's road rage would rival L.A.'s. One of our neighbors -- a very nice guy when he's not behind the wheel -- is the most aggressive, rageful driver I've ever seen when he climbs into his SUV. It's so scary, my husband and I rarely ride with him.

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  23. Only once have I felt seething anger at the wheel. On that occasion, I was so angry at the guy who caused it that I pulled over too quickly to the curb, hit my tire, and caused it to go flat. A timely lesson, but I was still mad as a hornet (now with a flat tire to deal with). I do think pulling over or out of the way is a good policy - just don't hit the curb when you do it.

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  24. Clint,
    Good to know I am not alone in this. You are right though, you always hear about cars and people getting shot up. Lets both be careful.

    Ellen,
    I remember how crazy it was in south Florida. Anything south of Jupiter was scary. Be careful down there.

    Djan,
    Isn't that just the best when some idiot gets pulled over. I always wave.

    LLCool Joe,
    At least your country isn't armed like ours is. Just about everyone here has a gun. Do be careful Joey.

    kenju,
    I would never have pulled into traffic but I was really glad I had an out. I figured he would pull through or we would have had a discussion.

    Pat,
    I think I was so startled for in my 7 years here, that is the first unfriendly horn I have heard. I love the manners here.

    Angie,
    Now that is funny. I guess that made you the designated cusser:))

    turquoisemoon,
    Now that is scary. At least in you car you have some protection. Grocery carts aren't good to hide behind.

    Blue Ridge Boomer,
    Oh yes, I so agree about Florida, especially near the coast and south.

    Manzanita,
    Oh how I wish I had known that earlier. A friend of mine who reads my blog
    e-mailed me to tell me her husband actually did that. That is too funny.

    marciamayo,
    Thanks. I do believe our chances for a long life go up the more wussy we are.

    Reader Wil,
    That was awful and you were all ready upset. He really acted like a jerk. Guess those types don't mellow with age.

    Betsy,
    I think what startled me and you was how quickly anger can get out of hand. Today, we do have to be so careful for a lot of people do carry guns.

    Grandma Yellow Hair.
    Gosh, I hadn't thought about that. Miss Pearl could get you into all kinds of trouble. Tell her to cool her jets in traffic. At least you are armed and carry a badge.

    Nitwit,
    I know what you mean. In Florida, if you go the speed limit on the interstates, you will cause an accident. I am glad rural Arkansas is a little more laid back.

    fishducky,
    When I was in Florida it was a lot like LA.
    That was a priceless comment and I would love for the opportunity to use it, hopefully when I have someone big and bold in the car with me.

    Linda Myers,
    Oh my, I was married to one of those also. That is where my extensive swear word knowledge came from.

    schmidleysscribblin,
    Yikes, that would make you seek the passive approach. Normally the people here are so polite. This must have been someone from out of state.

    mumsy,
    Kids just don't have any fear for themselves and can often cause accidents. You certainly did the right thing. Sure hope they lost their licenses for a while.

    Stichinby the lake,
    Hay, we do what gets us through the day. You live in a far busier place than I do.

    Oregon gifts,
    I think if I didn't have a way out, I would have gone back to see if he were "trying to get my attention." Glad I wasn't tested.

    Dr. Kathy,
    Isn't that odd how some people undergo personality changes when behind a wheel. The timid suddenly become aggressive. You sure can't tell by looking.

    Barb,
    Yikes, Now that was double jeopardy and not a bit fair. You know that idiot was enjoying your pain.

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  25. You are more accepting than I am, although I don't stew. But I am bewildered by fols who would rathere risk their life or someone else's life just so they can arrive somewhere a few seconds sooner.Good post! Hope no injuries from getting knocked off the fence!

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  26. It actually scares me a bit...I drive in tons of traffic 70 miles every day, and see lots of angry people speeding and driving recklessly. I usually just pull into the slower lane and let them pass me by. The most polite drivers I experience are the drivers of Walmart semi's....always doing the speed limit, move left for traffic entering from ramps on the right, and in general, keep a cool head. Who knew??!! And I was one of the folks who didn't want the Distribution Center to come to our town. One of the reasons was the truck traffic...which is really a non issue for us!

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  27. Nope never. I'm strictly a cool and defensive driver. However, I have, to my wifes great disappointment, given Tea Party protestors, exersizing their First Amendment rights on street corners in the Big City, the finger. It made me feel better....

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  28. oh dear yes. I work on the theory of "courtesy is catching" and get very upset with people who act like that guy - they create very dangerous situations with their impatience.Sue

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  29. Sorry about your road rage incident; it can be so disconcerting when it happens.

    You are not going to believe this I had two incidences on my way from Tarpon Springs yesterday and numerous people sitting on my bumper all day long. One lady almost ran me off the road and another guy whose car was broke down said " you need a bullet in your head" no lie, there are way too many impatient drivers here in Florida and I notice now that I am driving a smaller car they are even worse, perhaps my big white suburban intimidated them and now my small gray car makes them think I should drive faster I have no idea. The woman had kids in her car too - I sped up and pretended to get her license plate number and call it in, I guess I still could, and you know she turned off a short time after that. Unbelieveable and both these people made me mad as a hornet.

    We can little afford it, but I think we are going to have to get full coverage on the car as someone is surely going to run into us.

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  30. Never anything crazy, but yes. And it always seems as though it's the locals in our touristy town that are the problem. I embrace our tourists as the provider of money and jobs to our area. Some of the less logical locals have bumper stickers on their vehicles that read "IF THEY CALL IT TOURIST SEASON, WHY CAN'T WE SHOOT THEM?" I find that one of the most offense and counterproductive displays around here.

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  31. I do experience road rage, but I always keep it to myself. I have driven behind people who I curse up a blue streak, but I NEVER touch the horn. OTOH, I once changed lanes on a highway and didn't see a car coming up, so we narrowly missed each other. That other driver aggressively cut in front of me several times on the road as if to teach me a lesson. It was pretty shocking stuff. People with road rage need to CHILL and keep it to themselves.

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  32. LC,
    Ha ha, fortunately I still bounce.

    Deb,
    Hum, I will have to watch those Walmart drivers. We noticed in Florida that the very best and nicest truckers drove for Publix which is a grocery chain. They were a pleasure.

    troutbirder,
    Ha. Since I am a bit shy about the finger, please give the tea party folks one for me also.

    sue,
    Aw, hate to hear that it happens down under also. Guess no place is immune.

    Linda Starr,
    In the states I have visited or lived in, Florida was the worst for nasty drivers. At least in the urban areas.

    Barry,
    They used to sport those bumper stickers in the Sunshine state also. The tourists pay a lot of salaries.

    robin,
    It is amazing how quickly things can get out of hand. The only time I use my horn is to warn a dog out of the road. This episode was the very first in seven years here which is why it surprised me so.

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  33. I got out of the car once many years ago, but I sure wouldn't do it today. We live life too fast today, most everyone is short on patience.

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  34. I have been guilty but mostly I am passive - just yesterday a guy flipped me off - I have found laughing at the flipper gives me a bad good feeling. I guess that might be passive aggresive. :O

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  35. Some people get inside a car and lose their human kindness and dignity. I've heard some horrible stories of people behind the wheel. Stay safe.

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  36. When the massive heat comes to AZ road rage runs rapid...I did once have a guy throw his little POS truck in reverse and head towards my front end....I was in a cobra and just pulled around and left him in the dust... poor guy he was really mad but never caught me....

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  37. I guess I'm sort of passive aggressive when others hack me off about driving. In Texas, it is one of the unwritten rules to not tangle with a little old lady in a Cadillac. We will take you down and you will never know what happened.

    I have very little trouble with other drivers, but my husband does when he loses his temper. I think that is the key. When you had your faceoff with the jerk both of you were getting anxious. Good luck out there the most dangerous place is a public highway. :)

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  38. Linda,
    You bet. I was actually glad he took off so quick.

    Grayquill,
    As satisfying as laughing is seeing them later on down the road, pulled over by a cop. Yes!

    Kay,
    Sometimes having more than a ton of metal around some people makes them feel all powerful. Scary.


    4th Sister,
    Ha, you are so right about those POS vehicles. They have nothing to lose.

    Amber,
    Ha. How nice to have a reputation that scares off the creeps. You go gal.

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  39. I have experienced Road Rage. The traffic here in Los Angeles is HORRIFIC! And often people become very impatient and then end up doing very stupid things....I really have a hard time with that kind of impatience and then anger. THAT makes ME angry.
    I don't drive anymore so--Thank God--I am not experiencing RR any longer....! Everyone tells me that the traffic is WORSE than ever!!

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  40. OOLOH,
    Glad you are out of the rat race. I guess the hard times have done nothing to improve temperments.

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  41. Thursday (when it was only 103 out) I put groceries in my car and my cane on the passenger side, and was getting in the driver's seat when this AH young woman apparently decided I was moving too slowly for her and she almost slammed me into my seat as I avoided being sideswiped by her car...as she stalked off I had hoped she'd notice the disabled tag on my plate and have the decency to look embarassed. She didn't -- too preoccupied in her very important life -- it took awhile but I calmed down and remembered no one thinks clearly when it's this hot...

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  42. I Wonder Wye,
    She probably wasn't even aware of you. Just absorbed in her own life. Heat and the economy really don't help.

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