Writing is like being able to put life into a snow globe. It takes the things that are too big and scary and reduces them into a form that I can put away when I want and look at from a distance. It also takes all that’s good in life and captures it into something I can take out when I want and look at close up and keep forever. It makes the bad things into something I can hold…and the good things into something I can hold onto. Both help so much that I need that little souvenir of life.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Improper Poll: Road Rage

Last week I enjoyed your comments so much, I’ve decided to do another traffic one. I knew you would mention my other traffic peeves, and you sure did not disappoint!

Last week I also mentioned my Sad Head Shaking gesture that I use in traffic and how it once almost got me attacked. I realized the effectiveness of the Sad Head Shake when I was a teenaged driver and did something stupid in traffic. I don’t remember what it was, but I do remember the way a man sadly shook his head at it.

It was a shaming gesture, and I was much more horrified than if he’d behaved angrily.

From then on I promised myself I would A.) drive more carefully, and B.) use the Sad Head Shake myself whenever the opportunity arose.

That opportunity has arisen many times since then. One of those times was when I was taking my son to pick out college bedding and supplies. We had to make a left into the bedding store, so I was in the left lane and driving exactly the speed limit. My son later corroborated this. But it was clear by the way the guy behind me was riding my bumper that he wanted me to go faster.

Normally I’d just let him pass, but I don’t usually drive in the left lane without a reason, and my turn was coming up. So the kid—who was somewhere around my son’s age or early twenties—screeched into the slow lane, passed me on the right, then angrily swung back in front of me.

I did the Sad Head Shake. I might have laughed a little, too, because my son made a funny comment about people who drive like idjuts.

It was right at that point that I pulled into the left turn lane, and so did Screeching Guy just ahead of me. And then this boy who was so anxious to get somewhere slammed on his brakes, parked his car right there in the turn lane, and got out and started heading toward my car.

Have I ever mentioned that I seem to attract crazies? I do. Always have. And this was not the first time a crazy guy has come after me in a car, so I’ve had some practice. I put my hand on the horn and left it there. It was the middle of the day and traffic was fairly heavy, so we were attracting a lot of attention. But it was when my son was obviously calling police on his cell that the kid thought the better of it and went back to his car and left. At least he didn’t appear to have any weapons that we could see.

So we opted not to call police. In the big picture, it was almost worth the bonding experience with my son; we talked about it for ages. “Remember that crazy guy…?”

Powerful stuff, the Sad Head Shake. Do you have a favorite traffic gesture? And have you ever experience road rage?


  1. I favor the blissful, oblivious smile. If someone is driving stupidly, and then is unable to get around me because they're boxed in by traffic, I like to stare straight ahead--refusing to acknowledge their very existence--and have pasted on my face a huge grin as I pass them by.

    It's as powerful as the Sad Head Shake.

  2. If you ever find yourself in a situation in which another driver is exhibiting signs of road rage towards you (obviously not due to anything you've personally done) - do what I do. Pick up your cell phone and dial *911. You'd be surprised at how fast they move off when they see the cell phone at your ear - and if they don't, you can get a copy to help you with them. As most people know, road rage is against the law.

  3. Oh my gosh! I usually just try to ignore them. I do a lot of highway driving and sharply pull off to let them pass and then pull right back on to the highway and speed up to where I was ... they disappear in a flash. Sometimes I will drive by and point my finger (my pointer finger) and glare. It is the snow and ice and crazy drivers that worry me the most. If and when I meet up with somebody who has passed us all and gone careening of the road, I plan on telling them how stupid they are as I apply direct pressure.

    Kathy M.

  4. Don't take any chances. A friend of mine, ex-military and the last one to trigger a confrontation, once had a road rage incident where the guy followed him to his destination and set about attacking him. Luckily for my friend a police car happened to be parked nearby and the attacker got arrested.

  5. I had a student who was being all smart-alecky and jamming on his brakes, going 10 mph, then speeding up. The guy behind him was able to pass. He parked in the middle of the road and got out and walked back.

    The student was spoiling for a fight, until he saw the guy's pistol. "Is there a problem here?"

    "No sir. No problem."

    "Good. I didn't think so." The guy got in his car and left.

    The student said he'll NEVER play that game again.

  6. I don't have one particular gesture I use in traffic, but now I can't decide between the sad head shake and the oblivious great big smile.
    So glad your son was with you. And yes, a bonding experience indeed.

  7. Okay, I'll admit it. I clap, so they can see what a moron they are...I know my hands are off the wheel but only for a second.

  8. I ignore people because I think if they are that crazy, they are capable of doing anything, which scares me. If my daughter is in the car, she doesn't stand for it and then I'm pretty sure we're going to die.

  9. You guys are so funny! Tammy, Dana is half English Sheepdog and half Brussels Terrier (those little brown dogs that Jack Nicholson had in "As Good As It Gets" ... some little brown dog snuck over the fence, lol.

    She's smart, loves to herd us and is bossy and independent. A good girl. We got her at the pound, found out 3 days later she had parvo but she's a survivor. Is your dog the same kind as she is?

    Kathy M.

  10. My friend and I were discussing gestures today over lunch. She feels that there should be a universal gesture to indicate to another driver that you know you screwed up and are sorry. One of her suggestions was to give YOURSELF the finger while shaking your head in profound sorrow. I think it should be the "L" sign to one's forehead. These things could be considered dangerous actions UNLESS EVERYONE knows exactly what they mean.

    A big ugly redneck started yelling at me in a parking lot once. I got out of my car and headed toward him while calling him a pusillanimous post-pubescent prol. While he was standing there, trying to figure out just what I had said, I got back in my car and drove off.

  11. Not that I haven't done my share of head shakes, glares, and mouthing exactly how I feel but...afterwards I always worry that for some reason the other driver will turn out to be someone with the power to get even...later.

  12. I've used the head shake several times and the palms up with the head shrug. Oh, and there's the blissfully stupid look. I'm very good at that one.


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