ROAD RAGE

I was never one to give in to out of control road rage when I was a daily commuter. There were, of course, many encounters during those 40 years with rude, reckless drivers that incited me to use coarse language and even an occasional profane hand signal. But these all took place within the safe, soundproof confines of my locked car cruising safely in the slow lane. And I quickly cooled off. I was always too sleepy to work up a high-powered rage during the morning run and too worn out on the way home in the evening.

However, I was often guilty of driveway rage brought on by the only jalopies I could afford back then. They often refused to start in the morning if the atmospheric pressure, temperature and dew point were not within the acceptable limits of the battery and ignition system.

Those disloyal crates also drove me bananas with their misbehavior on the road. The Automobile Club hinted broadly, after many jump starts and tow jobs, that I was going to be black-balled unless I bought a reliable car or a horse. (They must have been kidding about the horse. )

But my highway breakdowns never incited me into actual road rage. I always felt apologetic towards my fellow commuters. I realized my steaming, smoking stalled crate was blocking one of their vital lanes and some of their glares as they inched by were less than sympathetic. I didn’t blame them.

A typical road rager who has just bullied his way to the supermarket, speeding, weaving and swearing at other drivers who are “in his way”, will get out of his car in the market’s parking lot and undergo a complete personality change.

Sooner or later, a distracted shopper will bump into Mr. Roadrager with his cart and Mr. Roadrager, the bumpee, will say to the bumper, “Excuse me, Sir. I was in your way.” That’s what pedestrians do, God bless them. Who ever heard of sidewalk or shopping aisle rage? It must be because these encounters are face to face and personal rather than the impersonal fender to fender kind.

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