The driver in front of me clearly didn’t know what he was doing. He wandered across one lane, hesitated as if to turn and then continued straight across the intersection and toddled along about 15 mph below the speed limit.
I was trapped behind him, unable to pass in the busy traffic. Finally I pounded my hand on the steering wheel in frustration and said through gritted teeth, “Don’t drive any particular speed!”
The small voice of my son, Joshua, came from the back seat of the Jeep. “Is he an idiot, Dad?”
The dagger in my heart was ice cold. There’s only one place he learned that.
The late George Carlin once asked, “Have you ever noticed how everyone who drives slower than you is an idiot, and everyone who drives faster than you is a maniac?” Yeah, I’ve noticed. I’m usually a pretty easygoing guy — until I get behind the wheel of a car. Then I become like The Incredible Hulk. (Okay, my muscles aren’t that big, and I don’t turn green, but you get the picture.) You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.
The problem is, it doesn’t take much to make me angry when I’m driving. Don’t use your turn signal? “Hey, I’m not a mind-reader, you know!” Pull out in front of me? “What, am I invisible or something!?” Don’t floor it the micro-second the light turns green? “Hey, it’s the only shade of green they’ve got!”
I am genuinely perplexed at my behavior — honest. I try self-discipline, but then some idi — sorry — fellow motorist cuts in front of me, and out comes the monster.
The apostle Paul commands us in Romans 12:16-18: “Live in harmony with one another. . . . Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” I clearly don’t follow that command when I blow past a guy at Warp 9 –after giving him a dirty look for daring to drive the speed limit.
I’m not as bad as I used to be, although I take no credit for self-discipline. One can’t help but become mellower with age. (Actually, it’s not mellowness. The truth is that it takes too much energy to get mad.) And I’ve never forgotten a bumper sticker I once saw in Los Angeles: “Keep Honking. I’m Reloading.” On today’s highways, there may be consequences more dire than an obscene gesture.
Aggressive driving is by far not my only weakness, but it is the most public, and there are times I’ve mouthed off in front of family or friends and then stewed for hours afterwards at my loss of self-control, compounding the original flash of anger.
How about you? Any idiot drivers out there? Maniacs? Or simply humans?