28 March 2007

Nice Road Rage, Jackass

(New Road Rage flashcards help incite ignorant drivers, spread bad energy and ill will on the roads)

Yesterday, I kicked my morning off by witnessing a driver flipping off another, calling him a “fucking dildo” for trying to take a left turn in front of him in Queen Anne’s Corner. Letting the driver (the FD) make the turn probably would have set this guy back about five seconds but he wasn’t having it. Instead, the driver (the FD) had to try to back up onto Route 53, causing a chain reaction of angry horns and obscene gestures. Ah, there’s nothing like a road rage clusterfuck before 8 a.m.

I loathe road rage; I hate the whole concept of it. It’s just bad energy. It’s a form of aggression you’d never express if you were outside of your moving vehicle. For instance, if you’re walking down the street and someone weaves into your path, you usually do that awkward dance, smile and mutter “excuse me.” You’d never say, “Get out of my fucking way, asshole.” On the sidewalks, you never take it personally. You never believe that person is deliberately hindering you. Why is it so different on the roadways? I liken road rage to the vitriol spewed on message boards and online forums. If you go online to any forum – however innocuous -- there are always angry posters lurking on the boards. You can almost picture them at home, pounding on their keyboards, hurling crumbs and saliva at their computer screens. We get very brave online – and in our cars -- when we're anonymous and there is no imminent threat of bodily harm.

Of course, few people are immune to road rage. Everyone gets it in varying degrees; we're only human. It's impossible to be a Zen master on Route 93, for instance, when some self-important jackass on a cellphone starts weaving into your lane.

My latest RR incident happened a few months ago when I was dropping Caroline off at school. Sometimes the parking lot is full and a small traffic jam backs up onto the road. I was last in line, clearly waiting to get into the preschool lot when some pick up truck pulled up behind me and leaned on his horn. It was annoying the first time. Then he did it two more times and my Mama Bear switch went off. The pointy finger came out. I leaped out of the car, and stormed up to his window like a crazy person. “Would you prefer I just let my children out in the middle of the road so you can run them over!?? Asshole!!!” I got back into my car all shaky with adrenaline. Then Caroline said, “What’s wrong, Mama?” I was crushed. It was a stupid thing to do. Granted, the guy was being an asshole but I escalated the situation -- and worse, with my two kids in the car. I never should have gotten out of the car because some knuckle-dragging hothead couldn’t wait his turn.

Now, thanks to new Road Rage flashcards, you never have to get out of your car again to express your displeasure. With sentiments like: “I hope that cell phone gives you cancer,” “Get off my ass, motherfucker,” and “Why the fuck are you tapping your breaks,” road ragers can incite ignorant drivers and let them know once and for all that their driving skills are superior to everyone else’s. One card even shows a photo of a gun with the words “I wish this was real.” These cards are pretty funny in theory, but in practice – I’m not so sure. One day, you could flash your card at some loose cannon; a loose cannon who just happens to be transporting a carload of antique whale harpoons. Then who’s laughing? I’d prefer to hold up a card that simply says “sorry.” I’ve found it’s very disarming to hold up my hand and mouth “sorry” to an angry driver. Their “I’m-going- to-rip-your-arms-off-with-my-teeth” facial expression melts away instantly. They usually wave “it’s ok” and drive off. Situation defused. Unfortunately, when the shoe is on the other foot, I get more middle fingers than sorrys from offenders. But I like to think that’s what separates the good guys from the assholes.


MLXC said...

I totally missed the boat on this one, KJ. I suggested to a friend ages ago we should invent this road rage flashcards. damn!

EPB said...

One good thing about taking the T everyday and not owning a car is that I am not the victim or perpetrator of road rage. Although there can be some T Rage from time to time. Not Back Bay Station shootings rage but your run of the mill outbursts by a crazy that livens up the ride!
p.s- A few months ago I wrote about how I was eating sushi with chopsticks on the train and how weird that must have looked. Well, I was outdone BIG TIME! Last week this completely normal looking guy in a suite was making....balloon animals. He started out with a balloon and a pump. Turned out a 6 ft long skinny balloon, knocked everyone within that radius of it in the head with it and proceeded to make various animals as though it was completely normal. I wanted to ask him 'what the f are you doing that for?'..... but I didn't I continued on my T ride as though there was nothing strange going on.

KJ said...

MLXC:It's a good thing you never cashed in on your idea. Those things have ugly, liability lawsuit written all over them! :)

KJ said...

EPB: That is truly one of the strangest things I've ever heard. Of course nobody acted like it was out of the ordinary. I'd love to have a hidden camera investigation...have people do truly bizarre things on public transit and see how other passengers react.

Anonymous said...

I made a FUCK OFF sign that I keep in my car for these reasons.