Posted by: martinworster | March 8, 2010

83. ROAD RAGE

What is it about driving that brings out the worst in people? I had a recent incident whilst driving south on the 405 freeway, the busy road that connects Los Angeles to San Diego. It can be quite a hectic, scary place with six lanes each way and moving from the car pool lane to the exit across the six roads can be a test of patience, dexterity, timing, skill, forward thinking and speed and brake control. It’s a complex computer game with dangerous permutations after one false move. If it’s raining forget about it.

I was coming onto the freeway and the two lanes merged into one. I was coasting when a pick up truck behind me sped up alongside me. The two lanes was fast becoming one as we both hurtled along in tandem. I was on the inside and I could see a barrier ahead. His car was much bigger than mine so I was squeezed out. To carry on would have been a game of chicken. I retreated, incensed, overwhelmed by a sense of defeat and injustice.

My blood boiled. How dare he? I got up close behind him and started to flash and beep, indicating as if to say ‘let’s take this off the freeway’, gesturing with my hand. He gave me the finger. I then sped along the inside and he ended up behind me. Then the rational me started to emerge. ‘Actually, he’s got quite a big pick up and is those gangster tattoos I see on him’, I thought to myself. What if he is a gangster? That’s the thing about here – you don’t know who is packing a piece.

I regularly read the small News In Briefs about freeway slayings. ‘Man Fatally Shot In Road Rage Incident’. ‘Man Killed On Off Ramp’. Pointless killings sparked by silly little incidents such as my own. Male testosterone at it’s worst. Death over being edged out, delayed by a few seconds, male pride wounded. I looked in the mirror and hoped the situation would diffuse. I stared straight ahead. He eventually dissolved into the traffic.

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