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What is it about drivers, that we take ordinary situations to ridiculous heights?
I never understood how anyone could escalate into road rage â€“ until it happened to me.
I’m writing this, utterly ashamed of myself, having committed the stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my 31 years of driving.
I took something that should have passed with a shake of the head and turned it into an incident that could have gone horribly wrong.
I was driving on my road â€“ a rural route that has become a thoroughfare for commuters â€“ at the 50 km/h limit, when a young man came up behind me at high speed.
He tailgated until oncoming traffic was gone and then he pulled out to pass.
This happens often and every other time, I just let them go.
I have no idea why this day was different.
I have no idea what made me do what I did.
But I was mad as hell and I wasn’t going to take it anymore.
So I floored the throttle and kept accelerating until he finally gave up and pulled back in behind me.
The road opens to four lanes at the traffic light where we both stopped and glared at each other.
I rolled down my window and told him that I live on this road and I don’t appreciate people speeding on it.
I then refused his resulting invitation; it must be fashionable for teenagers to invite middle-aged women to a fist fight.
After I cooled down, I realized just what I’d done.
I’d made sure no one else was on the road but how was I to know that someone wouldn’t pull out of a driveway and face two cars, on both sides of the road, driving at twice the legal limit?
And who was I to police his behaviour by putting both of us in danger?
As I sorted it all out, I knew I wasn’t just mad at him.
I was mad at all the people who routinely do 90 km/h past my house.
I was mad at the woman who took out my mailbox one winter and at the man who got his Jeep stuck in my flowerbed.
I was mad at the driver who passed a stopped school bus and almost struck my neighbour’s daughter.
I was mad at the drunk who rolled his Neon onto its roof in the ditch and came to our door to tell us it was okay, he’d dropped his young son off a few minutes before.
I was mad at all of them and it came to a head, and I took it out on this young man and his little red sedan.
That’s the reasoning, but it’s no excuse.
When I did something wrong as a child and paid the penalty, my grandfather always said, “That’ll learn ya.”
And this shameful episode learned me: no matter what someone else does, getting involved is only going to make it worse.
In future I will let the moment go, without adding it to a grocery list of perceived wrongs against me.
I won’t play officer; I’ll report it to Road Watch, if it’s an area that has the program or 911, if people may be in danger.
And if I do get upset, I’ll remember the day there was a real idiot driving on my road.
Oh, and there was a young man driving too fast as well.