Driving scares the crap out of me.
Maybe I should preface that a bit. A few weeks ago, I took the exit off a highway I take to work every day. I needed to turn right off the exit, but a huge truck turning left was obstructing my vision. Out of fear that I was somehow bothering the cars behind me (stupid), I made a judgement to turn right when I couldn’t fully see. I was safe except for a car that was maybe 20 or so feet away. The fact that it was going well over the speed limit made me panic: they were approaching me fast.
So, what expert driving maneuver did I perform? I floored the accelerator. Instead of hitting me, the vehicle went around me gracefully, still zooming at an illegal speed. They didn’t even honk at me. I know I would have honked at me. I deserved to be reprimanded. I could have caused an accident. I apologized aloud (that isn’t a habit that will die easily) and kept going.
I was thinking of how cool and composed the driver must have been in front of me until I reached a stoplight. The car that had swerved out of my way was still in front of me. When I creeped to a halt behind it at the stoplight…the driver exited the vehicle. She appeared to be a middle aged woman, extremely tan with a spaghetti strap top on with a skirt that stopped halfway down her thighs. She proceeded to yell at me.
I didn’t know what she was saying, I might have had the radio on too loud. Though I couldn’t hear her, I was mortified, scared. I yelled profusely out the window that I was sorry. The light turned green, and, either she needed to get somewhere or she was persuaded by my apology, she slowly got back into her car and drove off.
Driving is terrifying. I know I’m not the best driver (living in Indy for two weeks this past summer was one hell of a learning experience), but the anger I get from other drivers is terrifying alone. Once, when I was going a bit too slow in the fast lane (another mistake on my part), the driver in front of me slowed down abruptly and proceeded to flip me off. He could have caused an accident in order to prove his point. There are much worse incidents of road rage out there, which begs the question: why do people get so angry while driving?
I mean, we don’t get angry when we knock into people’s shopping carts at the super market, or if we do we don’t make a big deal about it (unless you do, then you might have bigger anger issues than myself). I admit, I do get angry from time to time, if someone is going below the speed limit or not going when the light is clearly green. At that point, I usually realize how silly I’m being and apologize (to the driver in the other car, to myself for getting worked up over nothing).
Some say it is a territorial issue, an almost primal feeling of maintaining your so called “turf”, though in this case it is your car and the area surrounding it. “This is MY zone! Stay away!” In order to maintain your sacred area, you honk, you yell, you flip people off, you do worse. It’s like a dog barking at another dog for approaching a fire hydrant it peed on first.
I have my own theories. Unlike with shopping carts, for the most part, drivers are anonymous to each other, like some guy in a red corvette or a lady a black SUV. It’s almost like an internet forum where you can be as rude as possible while you berate someone’s opinion. It’s personal, but, at the same time, you won’t remember the person later. Unless, of course, you are the victim of road rage (I’m not sure if I’ll be forgetting that haggard woman that yelled at me for a good long while). Considering you don’t know the person (or know that you know them, if for some reason you accidentally flip off your aunt or grandfather), you don’t feel bad about letting out the anger.
Informing people of their mistakes on the road isn’t a terrible thing (honking wouldn’t be a thing otherwise). I used to think honking came off as a tad bit aggressive, but it can save a life. The road is not a place to be timid. If someone doesn’t see you and are getting dangerously close, honking is the way to get their attention. Granted, yesterday I did honk at someone who wasn’t going when they were supposed to, but I did honk weaker than I thought I did, so it was a pretty coy honk. “Please go, if you want. Totally up to you.” But the road isn’t a place to let out all of your pent up rage from throughout the day or even just from that moment. Leave that to video games like Grand Theft Auto.
I guess my fear of driving derives from a fear of people. People become angry all the time for a variety of different reasons, but to get angry while driving heavy vehicles at over 50 miles per hour, simple anger can lead to large repercussions. Again, I’m not defending my terrible driving skills, but please, if I’m going too slow for you, kindly go around. If I’m causing some kind of mistake, honk and make me aware of my actions. If you don’t flip me off, I promise I won’t flip you off either.