Wednesday, July 27, 2005


I took a trip into school yesterday to get a feel for what awaits me in the classroom --- that didn't exactly make me happy, but hey, I keep telling myself that it can only go up from here. I have no clue what I have with regards to glassware, what of it I should keep since a lot of it has chemicals etched into the glass, things are put away in no particular order, and I have no sense of what this guy was up to, though he didn't lack for stuff to do it with, some of it over 40 years old.

But that's not what I'm here to report, no, it's another incident of road rage. That makes two in the last two months, the last time was in early June, and I'm beginning to wonder if I should be really concerned about living, or at least driving here in Rhode Island. The problem with this incident is that for the life of me I have zero clue as to what brought it on. I hadn't done anything as near as I could tell. Of course that doesn't exclude the possibility that I did something very reckless or potentially dangerous and wasn't mindful of it, but that's not my normal modus operandi and as a rule of thumb if I've done something dumb I'm pretty much aware of it.

I'm driving on route 1 north, heading home, and I hear someone beeping their horn as we all come to a stop light. I look to my right and there's a black pick up truck, driven by a redneck-looking guy who's very agitated and sticking his head out his window to yell somewhat apoplectically at me, "You better learn how to drive!" I'm a bit stunned, I have no clue what has
brought this on. I suppose my next response wasn't especially helpful as, noticing the light changing, I nod my head yes, and raise my right hand and flutter my fingers at him as if to say, "Toodles!", and then pull away. He wasn't going to have any of this, no siree, so the next thing I hear is a mild thud against the back of my car --- he threw his chicken salad sandwich at the
back of my car! I can see pieces of lettuce and streaks of mayo, and some particulate matter that I was later able to make out to be something akin to chicken, splayed across my back window.

Fortunately I had a good lead on him, at least three cars, because it was pretty clear that he was looking to get up behind me. At one point he went so far as to almost drive around the car behind me by passing it on the left hand side --- mind you, we were all in the left lane at that point so there wasn't any "road" to pass on. I made my way over to the right hand lane where I could wedge myself into other cars to avoid this Neanderthal, and as it turned out the traffic flow was such that he wasn't able to get over to where I was, instead finding himself passing me by, which I'd guess was what I had somehow stopped him from doing earlier without being aware of it.

As I watch this cretin turn off the road to get to wherever his presence was so urgently required, I'm sitting there thinking to myself "What in the world did I do that merited someone throwing their lunch at me? And "I'm" the bad driver? This butthead is dining and driving, throwing leftovers at whomever pisses him off, and making a general road nuisance of himself all in one fell swoop."

There's no accounting for someone like this, they just happen to you like the dog turd you step in when you're not watching. This time I kept my presence of mind, though the finger fluttering (I never showed a curse finger at anytime) likely didn't help --- he probably considered this my being disrespectful after he so kindly attempted to correct my driving skills. I was mindful of the ever ready cell phone, and made a point of taking his license plate down as he was forced to move ahead of me, so I was prepared to deal with this more sensibly and likely with a more satisfactory resolution than the first time should it have come down to that. But really, what in the world is it that causes people to act like this? It's ridiculous, you can't control your rage, you let yourself get angry over something that on the whole you should assume happened without the least bit deliberateness to you, i.e. the other person may have done something stupid but there's no reason to think it was done solely for your benefit and therefore there's zero reason to take it personally. Or maybe finger flutters are more derogatory and nasty than I ever thought --- I better learn to control those fingers. Let me tell you, mayonnaise cooked onto your back window in the summer sun is a pain in the butt to clean off.


Blogger she falters to rise said...

Ooooo, be careful.

I used to live in Baltimore, many years ago. One time, a man ran his stop sign, nearly missing my car. I saw him approach the sign rather quickly, but it would have been unsafe for me to stop when I had no sign just because I thought he might run his. The man followed me crazily down the street and through a parking lot, so I pulled into a space where there were a lot of people standing. He slammed on his breaks, rolled down his window, and screamed at me about MY driving. I explained to him that he had a stop sign, yadda, yadda, in a very calm voice. He told me that I saw him coming and should have known that he was going to run the stop sign. He then told me that I was lucky that he had his kids in the car because if he was alone he would have shot me, and he pointed to his glove compartment.

I will never live in Baltimore again.

9:19 AM  
Blogger James said...

My God!

I'll take a chicken sandwich over what you went through ANY day of the week.

You're right, the words to live by are, "Be careful out there, you never know when you're going to run into a nutjob without his or her kids in the car with them."

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Emily said...

WOW. Scary! I would say "unbelievable" but it IS quite believable these days, sadly enough. Oh well, it sounds like the joke was ultimately on the other driver...he is now minus a lunch after all. Which is appropriate since he sounds like a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. ;)

Why do you think drivers are getting worse, not better?

4:07 PM  
Blogger James said...

Worse or better? Heck, I'm not sure. I personally think it's a regional thing as drivers in one state are not the same, or so it seems to me, as those in another. I think on the whole, though, Rhode Island has more than its fair share of bad/rude drivers. That something like this has happened to me twice in two months, though, doesn't make me very happy and causes me to wonder what really is out there, causing me to think about being a LOT more careful about who or what I deal with on the road.

4:17 PM  
Blogger waxwing said...

One of the first challenges when moving to a new area is to discover what passes for "everybody else does it" driving practices. Some are good: in NM drivers do not enter intersections if they can't clear them before the light changes and are generous about letting cars into the road from a parking lot. Others, such as where I am now, are horrible. No Right Turn on Red means absolutely nothing to these idiots. Should I be stopped by a traffic light, I don't even put on my turn signal anymore because they'll honk, wave, yell, and get out of their vehicle in a rage.
I wonder if there is some regional driving code that you have not assimilated? And I'm not excusing or condoning the other driver's behavior at all, you know, just trying to keep you alive and blogging!
If your cell phone can take photos, learn to use it one-handed and quickly and keep it handy for the next encounter.

8:18 PM  
Blogger David said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:14 AM  
Blogger David said...

Holy crap! When satisfying your anger takes presidence over satisfying your hunger, personal reflection may be needed.

1:16 AM  
Blogger James said...

Wax - I didn't even think of using a photo capable cell phone for this. I don't have one, but you've just given me the one legitimate reason I could ever come up with for having one of those things, and it's a VERY good one.

In this case, for this incident I don't think it's a matter of some sort of road code I was missing out on. I think at some point, in some way I wasn't aware, that I got in front of this guy and blocked him from getting to wherever he was in a hurry to get to. Unfortunately idiots like this appear to be more common in this area than I would have thought. My experience, like yours, is that people in areas not on the east coast tend to be much more courteous and considerate than what I experience here. Not sure if it's the rush and general aggravation from driving in this fast-paced environment that does them in or what, but they definitely are looking for reasons to get angry and it clearly doesn't take them much to get there.

7:16 AM  
Blogger James said...

David - In this guy's case I'd say that in addition to personal reflection (my offhand guess is that this person doesn't go in for much of that, though I may be wrong) he needs some anger management.

7:18 AM  
Blogger she falters to rise said...

Maybe your road-rager found the color of your car or maybe your haircut offensive. It's impossible to predict what makes them angry. Crazy drivers exemplify the "everyone around me is an idiot" personality type--the people who rank themselves number one and, in turn, lash out against anyone who is in their way. I don't even think it has anything to do with the actual driving process; road rage seems to reflect some sort of unhappiness and pent up anger over life in general.

I use the metro so I don't drive much anymore, but that doesn't exclude me from being victimized by "road rage" behaviors. I've seen people cut in the bus line and then flip out because the driver asks them to take their place in line. I've seen people go crazy when asked to move their bag or purse so that someone can sit down. I recently witnessed a man being taken away by police officers because he was threatening a bus driver who was running late because of a major accident on the bus route.

If someone would sell a pill that "cured" anger, they would be financially set for life.

7:49 AM  
Blogger James said...

SFTR --- You're totally on target, I agree with all of your observations here about this and at this point I've given a lot of thought to the stupidity on the road and what you're saying here fits the bill of goods I've been observing.

As for a pill that cured anger ... hmmm, I thought valium did that. Well, I suppose valium made the person taking it feel a bit too good at the time and for not long enough to make the underlying reasons go away. I guess this isn't so much a problem for big Phrma as it is about something to do with how we live and what we expect out of our lives, and too many people seem to me to be on the wrong track and there doesn't seem to be any easy solution to that.

8:53 AM  

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