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And Some People Would Be Better Off Not Behind The Wheel of a Truck

A few years ago, when I was about 17, I was driving to the movie theater with a male friend. We were taking a back road through the woods which led up to one of the main roads that ran through town. The road we were on was heavily wooded and not very well-lit, and ended in a T-bone with the main road at the top of a curving hill; the main road had a large curve (25 mph speed limit) right before where it was met by the back road. There was a stop sign at the top of the hill, and traffic on the main road had the right of way.

Once we reached the top of the hill, we stopped at the stop sign for a good 5-6 seconds. I’m always cautious at that stop sign, as people have been known to whip around that curve and hit people merging onto the main road. After waiting at the stop sign and seeing no oncoming cars, we began to turn left onto the main road when a huge pickup comes whipping around the curve, he was definitely not going the prescribed 25 mph speed limit. I slammed on my brakes, as did he, and he laid on his horn. I rolled down my window slightly and said, “I’m sorry”, as kindly as a scared 17-year-old girl could. He turned left onto the back road, and I continued onto the main road.

Next thing I know, I see the pickup do an (illegal) U-turn and turn back onto the main road behind us. At that point, I’m worried, as the other driver seemed pretty mad about the whole incident, and I decide to take some side streets to get to the theater, and hopefully, lose him in the process. Every turn we made, he was right behind us, speeding up, riding our tail, flashing his lights, etc. Finally, we get on the street that leads into the shopping complex that houses the movie theater, and we get stopped by a red light. I lock my doors just in time to see the guy slam on his brakes an inch from my back bumper, get out of his car, and start walking towards my car. He gets to my window and slams on it with his fist three or four times, and yells,  “What the f*** is wrong with you?!? I could f****** kill you right now!”  He looked as if he was going to bang on the window again, but just then he peered into my car and saw my male friend in the passenger seat. At that, he turned on his heel, stormed back to his truck, and took off, actually drove his truck through the bike lane next to us (with his right wheels on the sidewalk), flipping us the bird all the while, and peeled off into traffic.

Now, whether I was at fault for the near-collision or he was, I don’t know, and really don’t care. At the time, I didn’t know whose fault it was, but for the sake of politeness, I apologized to the other driver, let him continue on first, and went on my way. His behavior, on the other hand, was ridiculous and, frankly, frightening.  10-13-08

I had a similar experience at about the same age only it was a car full of men that chased and intimidated me.  We can all agree that road rage is a violent expression of extreme self-centeredness.  How dare you cut *me* off!  How dare you impede *my* movement on the road!  It’s all about *ME* and *MY* rights to the road. 

Behind the wheel of a vehicle and alone on the road, angry people have what they think is a safe venue to let vent with all manner of behavior they wouldn’t consider attempting in a more public situation.  Cocooned in a one-ton vehicle empowers them to drop the social inhibitions and let fly with behavior that is both dangerous and anti-social in any other context.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Alexis July 6, 2009, 3:43 pm

    I had a nutcase get out of his car to scream at me after I pulled out in front of him. My fault yes, but not deliberate. He pulled around me, and there was no accident. (It was on a street where there were two lanes, then suddenly one lane to pass under a bridge and then back to two lanes again. A wierd intersection.) We both wound up stopped at a red light. He was in front of me, there was a row of cars in the lane to my left and a ditch on my right, so I was trapped. I watched him look in his rear-view mirror, see that I was alone, and decide to try and intimidate me. When he got to my window (which I didn’t even bother rolling up) I was holding a can of mace in his face. All he could do was stand and swear and scream at me like a 2 year old. In front of all those people in all those cars around us, who must have initially thought they were going to witness an assault. Instead, they wound up laughing at him, while a bunch of construction workers across the street yelled ‘YEAH!! SPRAY HIM SPRAY HIM!’ I didn’t. He had already humiliated himself, and, I hope, learned a valuable lesson. One of these days, he’ll find himself staring at a gun if he keeps up that kind of behavior.

  • Tara February 17, 2010, 3:39 pm

    One late night I was driving to the grocery store through a construction zone. The usual speed limit through there is 45, but during construction it was 35, and reduced to 1 lane. This guy comes flying up behind me, and follows right on my bumper for miles, as I was ONLY doing 40. I’m not going to speed through construction, even at night, that’s when the cops look for people to ticket. He follows me all the way to the store, through the various turns I took through the parking lot to see if he was really following me. I drove straight to the police station, then he took off.

    If you’re in such a HUUUUGE hurry, why do you follow people, or stop to tell people how PISSED you are that you’re being slowed down?! Idiots.

  • Nichs March 1, 2010, 3:42 am

    Regardless of who was at fault, he shouldn’t have acted that way.

    While we’re on the topic of sharing our own roadrage stories, I, too, have one.

    I was either 17 or 18 and hadn’t been driving very long when one day I was driving downtown to meet some friends. I was going a little over the speed limit, I’ll admit it, but nothing outragous, when I saw a car full of kids making a left turn onto the main street I was going down. They pulled into the turn lane in the middle, but I was going fast enough and had the right of way so I kept going and figured they’d pull in behind me. Well, they did, and they were pissed. They merged over into the right lane and rolled down their windows, yelling at me and flipping me the bird. Now, I’m usually a pretty timid person, but I was a little pissed that I was getting this treatement when I had the right of way, so I took the bait and flipped them off back at the next red light. This really set them off. As we merged onto a bridge, they drove up next to me and started through food at my car, including hamburgers and what I’m pretty sure was an orange. I’m actually surprised they didn’t dent my car. By that time I was terrified, and now no matter how rude someone is to me on the road, I don’t react.

  • Deanna March 25, 2010, 5:28 pm

    That guy was definitely a nutjob and it’s scary he’s behind the wheel of a car.

    I ran into my nutjob at the airport. I had just dropped my mom off. She was flying back home to Scotland after having been home for the birth of my daughter. DD was in the back seat, she was only a couple of weeks old.

    When leaving our airport there are 3 lanes for paying for parking as you leave and one lane for people who used the pay ahead machines within the parking lot. That lane was on the far left of the 4 total lanes. I had used the machine so I exited using the prepaid lane. Nutjob had used one of the other lanes and then pulled over into my lane and parked, I guess putting his receipt away or something. Yes, parked in a traffic lane.

    As I drove around him, I honked at him (I know, I know, I should have just let it go) to let him know that he really shouldn’t be parking in traffic lanes.

    He then proceeded to speed up, cut me off, missing my bumper by about 3 inches. He zoomed off and I thought it was done. My heart was beating really fast and my hands were suddenly clammy. My 2 week old baby was in the backseat afterall! But it was done and we were fine.

    If only.

    I was driving down the street, heading towards the freeway when suddenly he was behind me again. Sitting on my bumper, honking his horn and being a world class jerk. He kept following me, slowing down and then speeding up again and getting right behind me again. The woman in the car with him thought it was hilarious, I could see both of them laughing. We finally made it onto the freeway, they cut me off again and then sped away.

    To this day, almost 7 years later, I can still feel what I was feeling in that moment. I wish I had had the presence of mind to get my phone out and call 911. When you’re in those kinds of situations though, it’s easy to forget that you can call for help.

  • Elizabeth April 12, 2010, 9:40 pm

    My goodness, Deanna, I don’t want to imagine how frightening it must have been to have a crazed person playing chicken while you’ve got your infant daughter in the back seat!

    People with big cars can be the worst, because they know they are encased in an intimidating shield that will not only scare the crap out of the people around them should they start driving erractically, but also protect them from significant damage should their idiotic manuevers cause an accident. Oh well, you know what they say about people in big, flashy cars, only in the case of people who actually have the nerve to get out of the vehicle to harass the other driver, as the OP mentioned, it makes you wonder for what they are compromising, since it cannot be guts.

  • KK July 13, 2010, 11:16 am

    I was a third party (10 years old) when my crazy car stalker story happened. Guy cut my mom off turning out of a lot and mom laid on the horn at him. He then proceeded to get into the next lane, make rude gestures towards my mom when we pulled up next to him and then got behind us. Tailed us *this* close to our car. I remember asking my mom when we turned left instead of kept going towards our house what she was doing, and she told me that there was a mean man following us and she was driving towards the State Trooper office so he would go away and if anyone tried that with me I was to do the same. Or to go to any place with lots of people around. He saw where we were going and left us alone. I still remember her advice. Fortunately I have not had to use it, and I hope I don’t have to.

  • Tori August 31, 2010, 7:09 pm

    once when i was abot 10 or 11 some guy with no warning at all(while our car was in motion)merged right into our lane. so mom had to stop on the brakes and still dented his car a bit but he wasnt hurt. so while his car is half in our lane half in his original lane he turns his car off and gets out. he comes over to our car and bangs on moms window. she cracks it but not enough to get his hand in. now the next part is the ugly part. he BREAKS the window out when he relizes she wont roll it down more. now K(lil sis) and i are terrified in the backseat. he cusses my mom out for 20 minutes before a cop on a motercycle shows up. the cop asks all the people there what happened and they told him about how it was the guys fault in the first place. this gets the guy mad and he starts fighting(hitting,kicking,etc.)with the cop who calls in backup. so happy ending though. guy goes to jail because aparently he has done this severl times before.

  • MM October 17, 2010, 9:45 am

    I was in high school and a passenger in a small car with several friends. We were leaving the parking lot, waiting for a break in the heavy traffic, when the driver in the truck behind us honked just as my friend started to pull out. Her instant reaction was to hit the brake, probably thinking he was warning her that she would hit someone/something. He honked again, much longer this time, and the passengers in our car started looking back wondering what his problem was. I didn’t see what happened at this point as I was painfully shy and afraid of confrontation in high school and I wouldn’t turn around to look. What I was told is the guy was throwing up his arms and yelling, and one of our passengers gave him the finger. Wrong move, I know. My friend pulled out into traffic with the guy right on our tail. He followed us closely for quite awhile (no one in our car was provoking him anymore) and our driver was getting worried. She started turning off onto residential streets trying to remember where the police station was (no cell phones back then) when she accidentally turned onto a neighborhood street ending in a cul-de-sac. She tried to quickly turn around but the driver beat us by pulling his long truck sideways and blocking our exit. He jumped out of the truck, walked right up to the car, and punched the back side window out. Our driver was able to back up and pull away just as the truck’s driver was trying to grab one of the girls through the broken window. We had to drive halway over someone’s lawn to get out around the truck. We found a grocery store up the road and used the payphone to call 911. We gave the guy’s license plate number and luckily they found and arrested him at his home within the hour.

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