Julie Lyles Carr: Road Rage

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Road Rage

It had been my intention to write a light-hearted and funny piece today, but something happened yesterday evening that bears posting.

I was heading downtown to pick up 2 of 8 from her ballet intensive with 4 and 7 of 8 in the van with me.  I love my van.  Never thought that a 15 passenger van would become my dream vehicle, but here we are.  But while I love my van, I have no delusions that it's some hip muscle car or sleek luxury sedan.  It's your basic huge kid wagon.

The street I take to get to the arts center is currently under construction.  An avenue that typically provides a wide, beautiful drive has been reduced in width and bordered with large orange construction barrels.  Traffic can get a little tight and I'm always a little more careful driving this pavement in my larger vehicle.

While navigating in the left-hand lane down this street, I began hearing a loud horn honking over and over.  I looked at the oncoming trafffic, thinking the noise was coming from there.  I surveyed my fellow lane sharers; we all seemed to be fine.  Hmmmm.

Then I came to the red light.

And a small car pulled up in the right-hand lane next to me.  Right next to me.  As in, swerved within inches of my passenger door.

The driver proceeded to blow on his horn again, rolled down his window and began SCREAMING at me.

With an R-rating.

He apparently didn't like the way I was driving my explicative  van.  If I was going to drive my explicative van, then he was of the opinion that I needed to explicative learn to drive, stay off the roads, not talk and drive, explicative, explicative, explicative.  He apparently did not appreciate the cramped conditions my wider vehicle created for him with the confines of the road construction.  So he let me know.  Screaming this, at the top of his lungs, in rush hour traffic, along with the accompanying hand signal.  And when I say explicative, I mean the Big One. 

All into the startled face of my nine year old, who was sitting closest to the window where he was yelling at me.

So I blew him a kiss.

I don't recommend this technique if you are trying to diffuse a hostile situation.  It seems to have the opposite effect.

He went apoplectic, I went back to ignoring him, and my nine year old just kept staring into his furious face.  And he kept screaming until the light changed.

At this point, I sat at the light until he went on ahead.  I didn't want to drive anywhere close to this maniac and certainly didn't want him to follow me to my destination.  I treated it light-heartedly with 4 of 8, trying to minimize the impact.  Hearing aids and all, she heard clearly the curse word he repeated over and over, telling me she didn't think he should be saying "explicative".  Great.  We've been working so hard to get language into this kid, but not this kind of language.  I explained the basic meaning of the word, explained I didn't want her to repeat it anymore, explained she shouldn't hold up a certain finger and laughingly told her that we now had quite an adventure about which to tell.  But the more I thought about it, the more disconcerting his behavior became.

What was he hoping to accomplish?  Did he think I was going to roll down the window, apologize profusely for some imagined slight, invite him to coffee to talk this out?  Did he really think a mom in a van was some kind of serious threat needing the gutter language to further clarify his position?  And whatever his beef with me, did it justify terrifying a nine year old and exposing her to language that we had successfully shielded her from?

I choose to believe that had he chosen to exit his vehicle, had he chosen to take it up another notch, surely my fellow vehicular neighbors would have stepped in.  I choose to believe that this man does not represent the general attitude and behavior of my community.  I choose to believe that there are members of our society who don't scream  R-rated explicatives at moms with four car seats in their vans and a terrified little girl looking out the window.  And I'm going to forgive this guy~it may just take me a bit...
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