First, a little background to this story:
On my way home from work, to get to my freeway on-ramp, I have to cross the weirdest little intersection. Stick with me here; it’s somewhat complicated.
Just before the on-ramp, there is an intersection with four northbound lanes: left-turn only, left-turn/straight, straight only, and right-turn only. If you go straight on the left-turn/straight lane, it turns into a turn-only lane that directs you onto the freeway almost immediately. That is my route.
I approach the intersection on a small single-lane side street running parallel with the freeway. However, before I reach it, there is an off-ramp for the northbound lanes. The cars leaving the freeway have no stop sign, and often cross my path at near-freeway speeds, only slowing down when they reach the four lanes of the intersection about a hundred feet to my right.
My road has a stop sign, warning us that “cross traffic does not stop”. Therefore, anyone approaching this particular intersection from that road has to stop at the stop sign and wait for a gap in the off-ramp traffic to scoot across and into their chosen lane before someone comes flying off the exit again. Most days it’s not a long wait, though – I usually only have to wait for a few cars to go by before there’s a big enough space.
Okay! Tedious description done.
Now, on this particular day the traffic on the freeway was unusually horrible, so any car that could get to the exit was evacuating like rats off a sinking ship. This meant a steady, nonstop stream of cars were blocking my way to the intersection. Curses.
Still, these things happen, so I settled in to wait as one by one the cars ahead of me found their chances and scuttled across. Finally, there was only a single van in front of me, when the flow coming off the freeway suddenly got much worse, just barely a car-length between each exiting vehicle, and I was just feeling bad for the poor van driver when the guy behind me …honked. What? (I actually said it out loud, I was so flabbergasted) What?! Could they not see that there was no space to cross in? What on earth were they honking for?
A brief aside here – I should mention that this is all happening just north of Seattle. We Washingtonians, we only honk for three reasons: 1. The person in front of us hasn’t seen that the light has turned green – that earns the tiniest, politest meep we can manage; 2. Someone does not see us and attempts to merge into us – our response tends to be a firmer but still polite beep! to remind them we’re there; 3: Someone cuts us off so egregiously that we feel we have been endangered – we’ll go HONK! for that, but we’ll feel guilty for being so harsh later.
So, when Guy Behind Me started to honk, I was astounded. What was he trying to accomplish? The van couldn’t move until it found a spot- oh! There it went! It was my turn now!
And then the cars came, and came, and came, and I waited and waited and waited, and then GBM honked again! What. Seriously?
I waited some more, and a spot passed that a very fast sports car might have made it through (but not my tiny ancient truck) and GBM honked yet again, and then some guy a few cars back laid on his horn too.
After I got over my astonishment that I was being apparently peer-pressured to drive directly into the cross traffic, I chose to simply ignore them and wait for a safe gap. None was forthcoming for a while, and the intersection light cycled through a green light. The guy a few cars back started yelling something out his window. I ignored him until at last there was one car in the river of vehicles that was going slow enough for me to safely cross and enter my lane – the left-turn/straight lane that leads directly onto the freeway. GBM tailgated me across the gap instead of doing his own legal stop at the sign, but fine. Whatever. Maybe he was really late for something.
Here’s where it gets good.
As I was sitting there in my lane waiting for the light to turn green again, I realized I could hear shouting. I rolled down my window, and in my side mirror I saw that the Guy a Few Cars Back had pulled up right behind me and was yelling at me. He had one arm out the window and about an eighth of his head, so all I could see of him was that gesticulating arm, some floofy 80’s-curled hair, and his left ear. I found it quite amusing until I heard him shout this: “Hey! Hey, lady, how about a little COURTESY?”
Was he calling me uncourteous for not taking my life in my hands and potentially causing somebody to crash into me?
He continued, “How about a little COURTESY, lady, you’ve gotta have guts! You can’t just sit there and WAIT!”
Now, I’m generally pretty non-confrontational, but his accusation seemed so monumentally unfair that I had to respond. After all, here I thought I was being courteous to the drivers exiting the freeway by not cutting across in front of them and making them crash into me and kill me and all. They probably have a hard enough life without that on their conscience.
So I shouted back, “I’m sorry, but I’m not going to risk my life for a green light!”
“Well you’ve gotta have GUTS lady, there’s not going to just BE a hole!”
It’s hard to sound icy while shouting at someone out your car window, but I tried my best.
“Clearly there was one.” I yelled frostily, and declined to speak again. So did he, but mostly because the light turned green.
But wait! Here’s the best part: he followed me through the intersection, perhaps with the intent of continuing our discussion, but was apparently not familiar with the lanes and therefore did not realize that he was following me onto the freeway until it was almost too late. He had to swerve desperately into the correct lane, egregiously cutting someone off in the process, and got a HONK! of outrage for his discourtesy. I laughed half of the way home. 0724-12