Hi, I'm Laura, And I'm A Road Rage-a-Holic

The intensity of my fury at other drivers' petty slights freaks me out sometimes. Can someone help a lady out and tell me how to drive like a sane person? Or just tell me your craziest road rage story -- I'm easy to please.

Aug 11, 2013 at 10:30am | Leave a comment

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Um, yeah, this is me a few years ago, driving in my car and talking on the phone. :/  I KNOW. It was just for a sec! And I don't do that anymore, I swear! Now I have a Bluetooth situation where my phone calls come through my car stereo -- IT IS AWESOME.

So, I have a little issue. (Yes, I've stopped counting, because yes, I have an impressively vast variety of issues.) 

This particular issue isn't one that flares up every day, but it is chronic. Meaning I have to take preventative measures (calming teas, anxiety meds, meditation, etc.) to address it EVEN BEFORE IT HAPPENS. (Too bad those preventative measures don't actually help.)

Anyway, my little problem is: dun dun dun -- ROAD RAGE.

Raging on the road hasn't always been a problem for me. It began as soon as I got a car to take me to and from work, back in 2008. (Before that, I'd been a public transpo gal for a bunch of years.)

Other drivers -- a.k.a. bad drivers -- make my blood boil. Cut off by a biker? I'll make that biker want to die (OK, not really -- I'll actually just yell from within the safe confines of my car). Someone flashes me the finger? I roll down the window, thrust my own finger out high and proud into the wind, and scream creative zingers like "F***CCCCCKKKKKK YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU YOU F***CKKKKIIIINNNNNNGGGGGG CCCCC***NNNNNNTTTTT!" at the absolute highest decibel of my shouting range.

My life doesn't need to be in danger or anything in order to set me off; petty things like someone riding on my tail too close, or someone breezing through a yellow light right as it's turning red, or someone failing to put on their turn signal -- all these things have possessed me to, essentially, become possessed by Satan.

There've been two instances (I regret them both) when my road rage clearly could have led me into dangerous territory. In one, I tailgated someone a little too close for THEIR comfort (I know, hypocritical) so he kept slowing down, almost to the point of stopping. But we were on a HIGHWAY, for Christ's sake. You can't drive under 40 mph on a freaking highway! So I told him all about it -- passed him in high-speed dramatic fashion and screamed, "F*CK YOU, YOU F*CKING ASSHAT," or something to that effect, also throwing him the finger for good measure. Apparently he didn't like that, because he decided to try to run me off the road. He didn't succeed, but it was scary, and I was shaken enough to make a concerted effort to tamp down on my high-rage ways.

The second incident happened a couple years ago when I was trying to park on a super-busy street in San Francisco. I'd been driving around looking for a spot for, like, 6 years, when I saw one open up. I quickly made a U-turn to try to snag it. Right then, some douche-nozzle in a pickup truck sped in from out of nowhere and jammed the front of his car halfway into the spot. He didn't have time to go all the way in; he just wanted to "claim" it, I guess, and probably assumed I'd take the nasty hint and go away.

I didn't do that. I waited in my car and looked at him. He looked at me. We mouthed fun things at each other, like "WHAT THE F*CK????" and "I was here first!!!" (creative, I tell you). I figured I'd just wait him out -- at some point he'd have to Do the Right Thing, suck it up and bail, knowing I saw the spot first. Except he didn't bail. We just sat there, staring at each other, getting angrier and angrier. Finally, hoping to scare him into fleeing my spot, I put my car in reverse and started backing up. Like, backing up INTO HIS CAR. When I (lightly) bumped his bumper, he freaked out and started yelling again -- "YOU HIT ME!!!" (I'd really only tapped him gently). But it worked! It scared him out of my spot. And I parked. And sure, I was a little afraid that I'd return to find my wheels slashed, or my car keyed, or something. But no; all was alright in the end.

In any case, I'm well aware that the road isn't my problem. I'm well aware I have unresolved, long-repressed anger issues that are manifesting in the car -- where I feel safe enough, in my little one-woman bubble, to let them out. I know lots of women with similar issues, and I doubt that's a coincidence. Maybe more women tend to sit on their feelings, squash down their rage and resentment until a time/place it feels comfortable and OK enough to express it -- and that place is the car.

The thing is, it actually ISN'T safe. I took a "traffic school" course recently and I actually LEARNED some things in it (gasp! I know). It actually managed to freak me out enough to lead me to seriously re-evaluate my behavior; I know it's been scary and unsafe. I also know road rage can lead to people getting shot. Or run off the road. Or distracted enough that their driving suffers and they crash.

Road rage is actually really scary, so I'm working on it. If anyone has pointers, let me know..