Sometimes I wonder if there’s a new element in the air making people crazy. I especially wonder when I find myself fighting an urge to do something stupid while I’m driving, like drag a car that’s trying to pass me. (By the way, I lost. A Pontiac Vibe, even a very nice Pontiac Vibe, is no match for a Datsun 280-Z.)
That type of behavior is totally out of character for me as I am normally a very mild-mannered person. Some of my friends even call me Maryann Milquetoast.
But I’m beginning to understand Road Rage.
I get it when I’m tooling along the Interstate with my cruise set about seven above the posted speed limit. Then I glance in my rear-view mirror to see the grill of pickup truck bearing down on me like some wild beast straight out of Japanese animation.
Why does he wait until he’s crawling up my bumper to pass? We’re on a flat stretch of road for Pete’s sake. He could clearly see my car while he was still a half a mile back; plenty of space and time to move over. But, no, he’s got to practically crawl into my trunk just to let me know what he thinks of my lollygaging.
Road Rage also threatens when I get stuck in a construction area where two lanes are siphoned into one. Nobody likes the idea of a delay, but most folks simply sigh and get in line. But some folks think they don’t have to. Despite the signs that have warned for a mile that the right lane is closed ahead, drivers zoom up to the flashing arrow and inch their way into the bottleneck.
Of course, they don’t consider themselves a primary cause of the bottleneck. Hey, they’ve got places to go and people to see, and they’re just making sure they get to their places faster than anyone else. Too bad for the fools who all dutifully lined up in the left lane.
As they force their way into the line, careful not to make eye contact, do they really think we don’t know what they’re thinking?
Years ago when I had a big Chevy van, I liked to straddle the line between the two lanes to prevent cars from slipping around me. I’d seen a Semi driver do this once and thought it was a nifty idea, but an eighteen-wheeler is a lot more imposing than a van.
I still had people try to squeeze past and we’d do this weird little road-dance familiar to racing fans who’ve watched drivers maneuver to keep a car from passing on the straight-away.
Keeping all the cars behind me did wonders for my blood pressure. I could feel it subsiding from near stroke level with every little giggle of delight. And I didn’t even mind that the success had less to do with driving skill and more to do with the fact that I was driving a vehicle that wouldn’t even notice another dent.
Of course, this isn’t something I could try now. People no longer vent their frustration with severe pounding on their steering wheels. Now they pull a Colt 45.