Thursday, March 27, 2008

Road Rage Lives On

Little did I expect to encounter hostility at 7:45 a.m. as Jake and I went out to get the paper. And then later in the day another incident that demonstrated our ability to piss each other off in cars. What was most surprising was my quick descent to the level of the perpetrators!

We have been letting Jake out off leash in the mornings, but today proved he is not really well trained. He saw a black dog across the street and immediately bolted, not to start a fight but rather to have a literal pissing contest with the other dog as they took turns lifting their legs on everything sticking out of the ground in my neighbor’s yard. In my concern for his safety I stood in the middle of the street to slow down any cars that might drive by.

Now bear in mind we live on a dead end street with no more than 30 houses between us and the last cul-de-sac. So while I’m watching Jake and calling him non-stop, a big black Lexus speeds up the hill going at least 40 m.p.h. and starts honking his horn like crazy. As I point to the dog, he flips me the finger and speeds up! Without thinking I returned his gesture.

I couldn’t say who this rude person was, although it was definitely a white older male. Apparently another neighbor called our house at about the same time, probably having witnessed this out her front window. I’m wondering just how much she saw of our little battle of the fingers.

I finally got Jake home safely and will think twice about giving him such freedom, because he definitely does not know to be scared of cars.

It did cross my mind to take a walk this evening in search of the big black Lexus and let the air our of his tires. He wouldn’t be doing 45 m.p.h. up the street quite so early tomorrow.

You’d think one such incident would be enough for a day. But no, as I attempted to park at Costco at 2:00 p.m., a time when there are plenty of places available, I encountered yet another very impolite person. As I sat waiting for someone to pull out with my signal on, this person ahead of me proceeds to back up to the point where I thought she would hit me even as I sat on my horn. But she had decided that space was hers for some reason.

The problem now was that she was totally blocking the person who was trying to back out and she refused to budge. After at least 5 minutes she was actually blocking three cars that were trying to back out. Finally we all backed up so she could have the space she wanted, knowing two of us would get the other two spaces. The offender had DC plates, but that hardly excuses abusing parking lot etiquette.

I saw the person inside. She was wearing the most pointed purple stilettos you could ever imagine and she had a look on her scowling face that said, “Don’t mess with me!”

Part of me wanted to remind her of the fact that she had caused all of us, including herself, great delays in parking our cars. Another part of me wanted to take my key and run it down the side of her already beat-up car on my way out.

It’s scary to think how aggression breeds aggression. But it definitely does.


Blogger Kristin said...

I am so glad that I barely drive these days. There's something about the anonymity of driving (sitting removed in a big hunk of metal), much like the anonymity of the internet, that makes people think they can do anything.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- Well said. Both of the people who contributed to my day's experience definitely thought they were super-human!

6:58 PM  
Blogger media concepts said...

Out here, the drivers are so aggressive and self-important that, when I let them turn in front of me at intersections and such, they first look at me as if I've been hitting the crystal meth or something. Has anyone done a study on why drivers have become so rude and aggressive? There are so many factors that could be contributing.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MC -- I think the psychology of road rage would make a fascinating PhD thesis topic. I imagine there has been quite a bit of research on it since it is so ever present. Here are a couple of examples that pop up on Google: Road rage in Australia and another study from the APA.

8:25 PM  
Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

my daughter has a theory about aggression and people who drive luxury cars and suvs - but probably it's best not perpetuate such theories - even if there is more than a grain of truth to such musings. yes aggression breeds aggression.....peace sista

10:21 PM  
Blogger Colette Amelia said...

Ahhh something about the car! Today while walking some man walked passed gave me a great smile and said salutations! Now that just doesn't happen behind the wheel.

11:41 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Yes, we humans have the thinnest veneer of civility over our aggression. It doesn't take much to strip it away, leaving us with bared teeth and an "I'm right and you're an idiot" attitude. We have to be trained to subdue our ready aggression (well, it's a dog eat dog world isn't it?). Judging by your reactions (and I could feel my own blood begin to boil just reading your account), I'd say your veneer of civility is intact :)

7:00 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Mouse -- Your daughter's theory is probably correct!

Colette -- Perhaps it's the vulnerability of walking that brings on civility. We no longer have a dashboard to shield us!

Pauline -- I hope my veneer of civility remains intact today!

7:27 AM  
Blogger steve said...

I love George Carlins take on road rage...
"I don't have time for road rage....i'm too busy SCRERAMING!!!"

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our church was at an Easter Egg hunt in a ritzy part of town. One little 2 yr old got away from the mother and was running down the street on the side, but could have easily gotten into the street.
While the mother was chasing him, a truck came behind her. I got in the middle of the road and held up my hand & pointing at the baby.
That lady in the truck didn't slow down or even look where I was pointing, just flipped me the bird and kept on going.
Thank God that baby didn't decide to veer into the road before his mama caught up to him.
Some people need to be taught some manners!!!

9:55 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Steve -- George always knew how to tell it like it is!

Anon -- Sounds like exactly what happened to me and Jake.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

We are in such a hurry! When I find myself fretting about the other drivers, I start singing "I'm in a hurry to get things done, so I rush and rush until life's no fun. All I really have to do is live and die, but I'm in a hurry and don't know why...."

That said, the other day, I waited patiently for a car to pull out, and then just as I was about to pull in, a woman pulled her car through from THE OTHER SIDE! I was completely flumoxed that she didn't see me! Or maybe she did and didn't care. Later, when I had time to think about it, I prayed for all the times I thoughtlessly hurt someone. That helped a little bit, like paying for past deeds, little and big.

1:08 AM  

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