Road rage has become the rage. Suddenly it’s a right. If someone goes too slow, cuts you off, or pulls in front of you as if you were not there, you have the right to scream and gesture at them so as to expose their incompetence and lunacy. The reality is that yelling at other drivers is an exercise in futility. To the contrary, driving should be an exercise in forgiveness, mercy, and forbearance, qualities sorely needed.
Long ago, I gave up on trying to bring the world around to my way of driving. One day a man pulled in front of me. Quickly he realized it and winced as if I was about to lay on my horn or worse give him one-half of the international peace sign. At that moment, it occurred to me that I indeed have done something as obtuse to other drivers and been on the blunt end of their ire – not a good feeling. I pulled beside him at the next stop light and said, “So what, don’t worry about it.” He smiled and we went on our ways.
Getting mad or shaking a fist doesn’t improve the driving skills of others or make them a better or smarter person. It makes you an intolerable inconsiderate tyrant.
Rednecks Don’t Go to Pier 1
Has anyone ever followed you for miles after you offended them for some supposed driving infraction? It’s like living with a price on your head. I hope to have more gas than they have. The only way they can out-distance me is if they have a hybrid. I’m not scared of anybody that drives a hybrid.
Then there is the situation when someone cuts you off in traffic and they are heading in the same direction you are going. They turn left and you turn left. They turn right and you turn right. All the sudden you become the unintended aggressor, stalking them like you are a wild animal.
What if the guy you are inadvertently following is a 6’4″ 275 pound redneck, wearing bib overhauls, has a rebel flag strapped across his back window, and a bumper sticker that reads, “Keep honkin’ while I reload?” If he pulls off to the side and allows you to pass and starts to follow you, pull into the next Pier 1. If a good ole boy redneck follows you to Pier 1 – you’re in big trouble.
The Car, The Great Equalizer
Road rage is evidence of something deeper. There are underlying issues and unresolved conflicts (Look at me, all the sudden I’m going Dr. Phil on you). The meekest person can take on a cage fighter mentality in a flash.
For some reason the a empowers. It becomes an equalizer. The kid that was pushed around on the playground now has a four-wheel drive pick-up that it takes a grappling hook to climb into the cab. Suddenly some guy in Yugo cuts him off in traffic and he becomes the only tank on an ancient field of battle filled with foot soldiers who are brandishing spears, swords, and slingshots. There is nothing more fearsome than 5’6″ 130 pound computer programmer with Dodge Ram 4-wheel drive.
Vigilante Car Justice
Some people become self righteous and indignant. They have their own code of conduct, which we are not privy. In some places, it is illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving. Some think that should be the law everywhere and they have a commission and anointing from the gods to enforce it.
Not long ago I was sitting at a stop light talking on a cell phone. A man pulled beside me in a Subaru Outback. Let me say before going further that people who drive Subaru Outback’s have become the new Volvo owners – smarter and better than most, even smarter and better than hybrid car owners. He motioned to roll down my window. I rolled it down. He lifted his hand to the side of his head with index finger and little finger extended as if talking on a phone and screeched, “Get off your cell phone.” “I’m sorry I can’t hear you. I’m talking with Obama.” Frustrated he became emphatic, “Get off your cell phone!” I glanced at his green light and all the cars he was holding up and said, “Hey man, pay attention to your driving. You’re holding up traffic.” As incredible as this seems he flipped his invisible phone shut and drove away.
Road Ragers Only Want A Better World
Deep inside that guy (Subaru driver) wanted a better world. I don’t think it was the cell phone. It was me not driving a Subaru Outback. I was not one of his. That is the point. When we are able to relate to the person making the driving mistake we immediately are more merciful, forgiving, and forbearing.