Sunday, February 24, 2008


A few days ago I had one of those little experiences that shouldn't be surprising or stunning, yet it was. I was driving in my little car with Jack in the back. We had stopped at a light. When it turned green, we accelerated and crossed the intersection and proceeded forward. Very soon after that, I noticed a red recent model Jeep Cherokee behind me tailing me VERY closely.

I hate being tailed that way, in part because it simply irks me and also because I find it threatening, especially when the tailer is as close as he was on this particular day.  Rather than endure it,  I decided to just pull over and let him pass me.  In the interest of full disclosure, however, I have to say that before I pulled over, I did tap my breaks to send this guy a message to back off.
I pulled over and opened my window.  I am not sure why I opened it, but my guess is that I thought the driver would pull up and  would ask what the problem was.   I would then be able to say, politely but firmly, that he was following so closely I felt unsafe.  Hah.  How silly of me to think that we might have some sort of civil exchange.  Honestly, sometimes I am a complete dolt.

The car pulled up.  In the passenger seat was a young woman, perhaps a teenager, smoking a cigarette.  The driver was a clean cut young man.  He shouted, "You got a fucking problem, bitch?"  His passenger shouted "Don't!" to him.  I sat there with my mouth agape, sort of stunned by his, well, awfulness.  He quickly sped away, and I mean SPED away.  And, that was that.

Fortunately, Jack did not hear exactly what the guy said.  I collected myself and drove us home. First, I thought about how horribly rude, angry and disrespectful this young man was and how I would NEVER in a million years speak to an older person in such a way.  I felt so sad for the state of our society.  (I feel that way quite often, but things like this still surprise me oddly enough).  I do realize that there probably hasn't been a generation of people who don't lament the behavior of young people and that I can be no different.  But, as other generations of "older people" have no doubt believed, I believe that it is truly worse now than it has ever been.  Also, I realized that I should never mess with anyone on the road, no matter how dangerously or rudely they are driving.  You just never know how crazy someone might be.  But, what really stuck with me was the girl in the passenger seat yelling, "Don't!" to her boyfriend.  I was hoping that she wouldn't be sticking around to witness more of this guy's angry behavior.  It was so very ugly.  I imagined her life with him as being one long losing battle of managing this guy's rage.  

It's a good thing that not ever interaction in the world is like this one was and that there is ample beauty and love to balance all this rage that seems to be seeping out of people in the smallest of situations.  My next post will be all about that instead of this ugly kind of stuff.  But, right now, I am off to read some Babbitt and contemplate my current writing project.

Good Night and Happy Driving, Loyal Ones.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My favorite story about an experience like this came from the husband of a mom in my kids' playgroup. He was being tailgated by a really obnoxious person who beeped at the stoplights and was being really aggressive. Finally he couldn't take it anymore, and at the next light he stopped, walked back, and with eyes full of concern, asked, "Are you having a medical emergency? May I be of assistance?" Apparently the other driver was so taken aback by this show of concern that he behaved himself thereafter.

I wouldn't have the nerve to do this, but I like to think about it when someone's being a jerk like this.