Road rage. You hear about it, you know what it is, however when is the last time you actually were involved in it? Being in the insurance industry, you can bet that I hear about road rage, its effects on driving habits, premiums for auto insurance and so on. I’m a trained professional, so I would never fall into that trap I know so much about and take it out on another driver, or would I?
I’m driving home from the office, minding my own business. The street I’m driving on begins to narrow, well it always does that after all. However today there appears to be some parties in progress. There are rows of cars parked on both sides of the street and I immediately notice no less than ten valet scurrying up and down the street picking up and dropping off cars. Being the careful, well trained vehicle operator that I am, I slow down for safety.
After a few moments, I’m at a complete halt; not really much of a choice with cars on both side of the already narrow street and people walking around and valet personnel hopping and jumping about. Soon I’m inching my way up, taking turns with cars coming down the street, I pull to the left, the car passes, I migrate up a car length while the opposing traffic does the dose-e-do with me. This is the safe, polite and in all truth only way to slowly crawl up the street and we’ve all done it before. Haven’t we?
From what appears to me as out of the blue, a car whips around the corner and I would have sworn connected its front bumper to my rear bumper. As I’m inching my way along, this car is for all intense and purposes, attached to me. After a few duck and cover operations trading space to let oncoming cars go by and then moving along myself, this car, or more accurately this driver starts honking at me. It’s a shame that a car horn only signify objects in front of you and not behind, because if I had the ability to honk back at him, I would certainly have opted to do so.
After honking at me for a solid minute give or take, I would have loved to let him pass, however alas, there is barely enough room for one car to get by let alone one car pass another. So, I do what any conscientious law abiding driver would do – I stop. Completely stop and wait for my little attached to my bumper tumor to take a few breaths and relax. Sure, in hindsight, I can see how this would probably not accomplish that at all, and in fact it didn’t. It royally pissed this guy off.
Being the uber-social fella I am, I figure if I roll down my window and wave to him, smile, perhaps make the “calm down” gesture, he will get my drift and actually, well, calm down and relax. After rolling my window down I do just that and wouldn’t you know it, I can hear him, well, saying, cursing at any rate, trying to communicate back to me. Ok, so maybe I should just keep moving then. So I keep moving up, stop, pull to the right let a car go by, go up a little more, rinse and repeat.
At long last I make it to a place where there actually is room for a car to get around me, apparently a spot a valet didn’t yet fill and my little growth takes the opportunity to speed right around me. I’m expecting “the look” or worse, so I put on my best and most friendly smile. Instead of any communication human to human, he instead pulls infront of me and slams on his breaks bringing me and all cars behind to a halt. I can’t say screeching halt, as much as that would make this sound so much more dramatic, after all we are only going a few miles an hour at best. I sigh and say to myself, ok, get it out of your system and we’ll all move on. Sure enough, after a minute or so and people behind me begin to honk, he starts moving along. All is forgotten and we’re all moving along again, same pace, just a new leader in the pack, him.
Uh oh. Now he pulls over and waits to be passed. I exhale and just drive on past, not even turning my head to engage him. Sadly, he is not ready to live and let live. Tires smoking leaps behind my car, almost hitting the car that was behind me and again re-attaches his front bumper, fugitively speaking, to my rear bumper. Now I’m spooked. I’m not going to let this dude follow me to my front door, so I take the first opportunity to turn on to a street, hoping he will pass. Nope. No dice, he turns with me.
With my luck for the day, I have turned onto a cul-de-sac and have no choice but to turn around and head back and surprise surprise he has pulled over and rolled his window down to have a little chit-chat with me. So be it. I slowly pull up, with no other option, and our two driver windows are only a foot apart. I stop and open my window.
He asks what I was doing, and although I think it was pretty self evident, I decide to give him an honest answer. I tell him I was driving carefully up the street. He says I was holding up all the traffic, and I explain to him that I was really going as fast as was physically possible and he really should just relax, it’s always better to drive and error on the side of caution. Next he wants to know why I had the “audacity” to stop in front of him. Again, I smiled and gave him an honest answer, “to give you a few seconds to calm down.” He tilts his head to the side studying me to see if I’m serious and then smiles and says, “ok, well take care and have a great day.” Not even the slightest hint of sarcasm in his voice either, oddly enough. I pay him the same respect back and we both pull away.
I notice he drives the other way, back down the street, meaning he actually was following me, at least for a while to follow me, not to get to anywhere specific in the direction I was traveling. That won’t give me too many nightmares.
At the end of all of this, I’m left in my driveway thinking it all over. What did I do wrong, where did I go wrong? Leave a comment below and you tell me who you think was in the right, or wrong.
Karl Susman, Agent