Last week, I was on my way to work when I hit a red light. No big deal. I was in the right lane and I was the first one at the light, and I had my turn signal on to turn right.
A large truck behind me honked its horn. I looked in my review mirror to see if he was indeed honking at me, and he was. He flew both of his hands up into the air when I looked back. I looked back at the road.
Although there was no sign saying we couldn’t turn right on a red light, the oncoming traffic was too heavy for me to turn. There would be no way I could turn given the bumper-to-bumper cars coming our way. I wasn’t sure what this guy expected me to do.
But he persisted, laying onto the horn, sending out a constant WWAAAAAMMMMMMKKKK into the morning air. Other drivers around me were staring at us both. When I looked into my review mirror again, the guy had both of his middle fingers up at me.
What the hell?
I’ve heard about extreme road rage on the news – stories of drivers pulling out guns or actually getting out of their vehicles to threaten or even hurt other drivers. People have died from extreme incidents of road rage.
And hey, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t tossed up a few middle fingers on the interstate or muttered a few “What the hell are you doing?!” under my breath in traffic. For anyone that lives in a decent-sized city, traffic is probably an issue we face at one point or another.
But as I sat at that red light that morning, for what seemed like hours, I felt really scared. I honestly did think this guy was going to get out of his truck and threaten me. And what would I have done in that situation?
I was much more of an “adventurous” driver upon getting my license nearly 16 years ago. But, I was also the cause of several car accidents in just a handful of years. I had many tickets, had my license suspended, and even had a few warrants out. Do 40 hours of community service at a Goodwill and you’ll solve a lead-foot problem.
I haven’t had an accident in more than 10 years, and I haven’t gotten a ticket in six (knock on wood).
As the years have passed, I’ve become more and more afraid of getting behind the wheel. I have come to nearly hate driving, as I have a fear of something bad happening – whether it be as small as a ticket or as huge as dying. I try not to drive whenever possible.
When I do have to drive – obviously daily to get to work and to dance, and I try to cluster errands together on the weekend so that I’m not driving far. Austin traffic is not a joke, and Texas drivers are on another level. I can’t keep up.
In fact, this is why I changed my route to work. I am still dealing with getting my Jeep fixed, and interstate driving isn’t good for my engine, not to mention just how many merges and lane-changes my original drive was handing me. I was terrified of a wreck every single morning.
So I found a back way that takes around the same amount of time, and is just a few right turns. Right turns that put me at that damn light.
When the light finally turned green, I slammed on the gas, and the guy in the truck passed me immediately. He rolled down his passenger window and was yelling at me, though I couldn’t hear was he was saying. He had his middle finger in the air.
The speed limit was 35 and he was going at least 45 – I wished so hard for a police officer to whip out of nowhere and pull this guy over. But he got away before anything could happen.
I only had a few blocks left to drive before getting to the office and I was nearly shaking. Why was that guy so pissed?
I’ll admit that I’m a very cautious driver. I never break any of the rules, for fear of getting pulled over. I don’t go over the speed limit, and if I do, it’s not more than one or two miles. I’m just too scared. I rarely have passengers, and when I do, I tell them upfront that I’m in no hurry.
As I finished the drive to work that morning, I vowed that I’d never be that guy in the truck. Let’s face facts, I usually don’t have anywhere important to be, and if I’m late, it’s my fault and not the driver in front of me’s.
So, there’s my lesson in being kind on the road. Because really – that guy just looked like a dick and it wasn’t even 9am.