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?