One place I see a lot of people is on my daily commute to and from work. I live in a large city that is growing. Translation: Lots of traffic. Between all the big trucks and the construction crews adding additional lanes to the interstates, there is a lot of traffic congestion. A person’s real character comes out in stop and go traffic. Especially when that person is subjected to it day in and day out. I’ll start with my own behavior. I think that’s only fair. One shouldn’t critize other people unless one is willing to critize oneself — or take criticism from others.
I’m not a very nice commuter most of the time. I don’t mind letting another driver move over into my lane if s/he politely signals that intent. I’ll even slow down and give the person enough room to get in front of me. It also helps if that person throws me a little wave thanking me for my reciprocating politeness. But that’s where my niceness usually ends. I don’t like it when people suddenly swerve into my lane without warning, narrowly missing my front bumper. I truly believe some people do it just because they see a gap in the endless line of cars and it is their duty to fill it. Like some kind of disaster is going to happen if they don’t. Do they really believe that commuter traffic has to be bumper-to-bumper?
I don’t feel that way. I prefer to give the car in front of me at least one car length of space so that I have plenty of time to stop when that person in front of me slams on the brakes. When someone swerves in front me like that, I sometimes just sigh. You know the kind I mean. It’s a highly audible, obnoxious sigh that conveys irritation. Other times I say bad words or I call the offending person names, i.e. Idiot, Moron, Rebel Scum, etc. When I’m in a really bad mood, I will drive up to within inches of the person’s bumper and pretend I’m causing that idiot all kinds of anxiety seeing my front grill in his/her rearview mirror. Of course, s/he probably doesn’t even notice or is used to it so the only anxiety I’m causing is my own.
Anyway, these are the things that I don’t like in commuter traffic.
1. Stop and go, especially when they stop, then get up to 40 mph and then hit the brakes to come to another complete stop all within 30 feet.
2. As I mentioned before, swerving into my lane without signalling.
3. People who drive on the shoulder to pass two additional cars (I’m sure they are going to get home a whole 20 seconds sooner).
4. When my lane is at a complete stop and the lane next to me is going 40 mph.
That’s all I can think of at the moment. My wife could probably come up with a half dozen more if she was here.
So, the other day, I was getting off at my exit and heard a car horn. I glanced around but didn’t see anything. There were so many cars, there was no way to tell where it came from or if someone was even honking at me. I go on and stop at the traffic light along with everyone else. Suddenly a car zooms up beside me and stops, even though there is no one in front of this person, blocking all the traffic behind him. He then proceeds to flip me off. Not just a simple flip, but a very emphatic flip (with facial expressions included). He zooms away before I can even react, which is probably a good thing. I have no idea what I did to this person to make him so mad. I didn’t think I did anything out of the ordinary.
But you know what? That made my day. All the irritation I had inside of me from the morning commute was gone. I felt like I had accomplished something.
In other words, I’m not your big brother. I’m not looking out for your best interests in traffic. I’m not going to try to piss you off intentionally, and I’m sorry if I make a poor decision while driving. It happens. But if you feel like waving at me, full hand or single finger, it makes me no difference. I’ll take it for what it is and move on.
Was he a lion or lamb? There are aggressive drivers and there are timid drivers. And then there are competent drivers. You can decide which is which.