Road Rage? Well…They Deserve It!
Funny how being wrapped in a few thousand pounds of sheet metal can transform even the sweetest flower into a thornbush. Who’s with me on this? We all harbor just a hint of road rage.
By Janis Hirsch
I try to be nice. I smile at wait-staff and not just because I believe there to be a solid link between kindness to waiters and good parking karma. Although there is.
I let people with only two items get in front of me at the grocery store, unless those two items are organ meats and Clamato because really, what’s their rush?
I’m Facebook friends with Matt, the barista I only see on Saturday mornings when I pick up my post-Weight Watchers weigh-in coffee at Kings Road Café.
But get me inside a car and all bets are off. Not that I’m always a Road Warrior; I’ve been known to give generous “after you” nod to people trying to get out of their driveway and my “thank you for letting me in your lane” gesture is so elegant and elaborate it would humble a Kabuki.
Recently I was trolling for a parking spot when I saw a guy getting into his car. A street-parking spot at noon in Beverly Hills was nothing short of Divine Intervention. Seriously, if Michelangelo had been there instead of in Rome 600 years ago, he would’ve moved to paint God’s hand reaching out to my Prius instead of giving life to Adam.
Thus blessed, I backed up to wait. The guy checked his messages, he twisted the rear view mirror so he could examine that thing under his nose, he made a few adjustments to his ‘manly fruit bowl’ but I waited patiently. No honking, no flicking of lights. I was getting a primo parking spot and those of us so chosen can afford to be magnanimous.
He started to pull out. (Heh, heh, I said “pull out.”) Instead of merging into the closest lane, he angled wide so as to head for the center lane effectively blocking me for just a second. That second was long enough for some Gorgon in a stupidly pimped-out German car with an ironic faux peace symbol as its badge come up from behind, swerve around him (and me) and back into MY spot.
I snapped. Truly. It was like someone attached jumper cables on my brain and floored it. I laid on my horn, I gave her the two-handed multi-pump flip-off; when I screamed “Didn’t you @%king see I was waiting for that spot?!” she look at me with a giant, unpleasant face that was only missing a fish hook and said “You don’t own it.”
And that, my friends, was my last nerve. When she got out and started to cross the street I followed her in my car. Seeing me out of the corner of her rheumy little eyes, she sped up as she crossed the street and I’m proud/not proud to tell you that I came dangerously close to knocking her on her fat freckled tush. When I heard myself scream “I’m gonna key your #@king car, you giant &%ing b*&^%&!” I realized most of Beverly Hills also heard me scream that. And I didn’t care. They probably thought we were taping an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
I’m Not Proud…But, Hey
What is it about being behind the wheel that makes me, and so many of my sisters in rage, lose all reason, decorum and sanity? If someone stole my spot at the deli counter, I’d say something, loudly, but I wouldn’t chase her around the store trying plow her down with my shopping cart.
Yes, clearly, we’re protected inside all that metal so we feel invincible but is that all it takes for us to do a complete Jekyll and Hyde? Metal? Because I had an MRI in a tube that makes my Prius look like an aluminum foil pie pan and I was a total doll.
Granted, sometimes we’re late, sometimes we’re behind a snail with a valid driver’s license, sometimes we just want indoor plumbing more than we want world peace. And when we’re in those circumstances, it’s perfectly acceptable to become annoyed. Peeved. Irritated. But the other day, some woman was about to make an illegal left and I had the temerity to drive in my rightful lane past her, causing her to delay her law-breaking ways by almost four seconds. She waved her fists at me. Fists, I say
Where does that testosterone come from and why can’t I access it when the smarmy salesdude at Barney’s won’t waste his time on me just because I’m 30 years and 30 pounds off their key demographic?
Is it the privacy and primacy of the driver’s seat that makes us such wild animals or, in the tongue of my people, vilde chaiahs? Are we so drunk with power that we feel it’s well within our rights to quash any peasants who dare to make eye-contact?
Or is it not so much about us as it is about our cars and how protective we feel about them? Are we incensed when they’re not shown the respect we know they deserve? Are we driven to blinding rage when we feel our rides are being bullied, belittled and bitched at?
If it sounds like I’m anthropomorphizing, let me ask you: have you ever stopped your car a little too far into the crosswalk and had a pedestrian or bicyclist slap it? Could you feel any more violated? Having my hood getting spanked actually brought tears to my eyes.
Wait a minute. Am I my car’s mom?
Well, I do love it. And like my kid, I took meticulous care of it at first but then I slacked off once I realized a little dirt and a few dings wouldn’t be the end of the world. And every time I turn around it’s costing me money.
Is that the secret to road rage? Somebody’s ignoring my kid, not seeing him to be the gorgeous charming talented genius that his grandmother and I know him to be and that really, really ticks me off?
Now don’t get your Spanx in a bunch because it seems like I’m reducing the most macho of behaviors — road rage – to motherhood. Because think about it. Think about how adding the word “mother” elevates a simple vulgarity to the epitome of ferociousness. Think about how tacking “the mother of all” onto pretty much any noun increases its intensity a thousand-fold.
Tick me off when I’m walking around and I may be annoyed with you but I’ll probably exhale and move on. But slight me when I’m behind the wheel and I’m one road rage-y mutha. And damn proud of it.