People think road rage is a big joke. Maybe. I don’t really know. I didn’t really ask anybody what they thought about road rage, or about anything else really. I just thought that it would be a good way to open up this discussion about road rage. And by discussion, I mean me, talking, discussing, kind of a one-sided thing, sure. But it doesn’t matter, like I said, it was just an opening, a way for me to say something like: people think it’s a big joke, but it’s not a joke. It’s serious.
I should know. I’ve been the victim of road rage several times. What I mean to say is, road rage has hijacked my mind on a number of occasions, leaving me completely vulnerable to wild mood swings while on the road. And to be slightly more literal, if it’s even possible to be more or less literal, one time for example, and I’m just going to get the punch line out of the way here early so you don’t think I’m wasting your time, it turned out that I was driving next to this giant truck, a giant polished steel truck, it was like cruising next to a huge mirror.
And so I had a big case of road rage against myself. I was both the perpetrator and the victim, which is really like double victimhood, because I happen to think that if you’re in the grips of a bad case of road rage, it’s out of your hands entirely, you’re just another victim of your own angry driving. But this time, with the mirrors, it was twice as bad. I looked to my right, again, it was me, my reflection, but I didn’t know this at the time, not yet, I was just minding my own and I just saw this joker staring back at me.
“Why don’t you keep your eyes on the road buddy!” I screamed out the window, but he (me) was screaming something back. You know where this is going to go right? Yeah, it was me. I was working myself up into a real frenzy. But somewhere in the middle of the rage, a rational part of my head kicked in, it said, Rob, what are you going to solve by screaming at this doofus? Why not try killing him with kindness?
I thought, yeah, I’ll smile and wave, give a really big exaggerated thumbs-up. That’ll show this asshole. So I did it, and I keep saying this over and over again, but it was my own reflection, so as I saw me try to kill myself with kindness, my fury came roaring back, I think I became more violent than ever. I started honking, I swerved a little closer to the right. No luck, because, seeing as how it was just me, it looked like this guy was trying the same trick.
Wow, I thought, this guy doesn’t fuck around. Maybe it was time to cool it off a little bit before something dangerous happened. I put my foot on the brakes and the mirror truck took off in front of me. I instantly realized what was going on, and I’d never felt more stupid. I looked at my reflection in the rearview mirror. My face was beet red, the veins by my temples bulging and pulsating.
I made a promise to myself right there that I’d turn my attitude around, for real this time, for good. Whatever it is that’s the opposite of road rage, I’d do that starting right that minute. It was time for a whole new outlook on motorized transportation. So I stopped at the light and turned my blinker on to make the next right. But I looked to the side and, to the right of me was another car, it wanted to go left. Huh, that was funny, we were in different lanes, he needed to make a left, I needed to make a right. We’d have to cross.
Normally something like this would have instantly caused me to start revving my engine, inching up closer to ensure that, the exact second that the light turns green, maybe even just before, that I’d be the one to turn first, me. But that was the old me. The new me wanted to be friendly, compassionate, so I waved the car on to go first.
Again, I don’t want to beat around the bush, but it wound up being another mirror truck. I’m not sure if it was the same one or if there was some sort of a mirror truck convoy going on, but you can imagine what happened next. No you go. No, you go. No, I insist. Seriously, I’m not moving. Well I’m not either. Well who the hell do you think you …
And then the mirror truck moved and I realized what was going on, again, I couldn’t believe it. So I started laughing. You’ve just got to let things go sometimes, right? You’ve just got to bow to the absurd and let it all roll off your shoulders.
But then the cop behind me hit his lights. “Pull over.” I pulled over. “What seems to be the problem officer?”
“Are you serious? I’ve been watching you for ten minutes, screaming, laughing, and now you’re just stopped here at this green light. What are you drunk?”
And I know I shouldn’t have resisted, but that cop just got me so pissed off, I got into a pulled-over rage, which, I’d like to make the distinction between road rage. If anything, it was curb rage, because, yeah, I pulled over. That dumb cop. I was the victim here! We were both victims! But he wouldn’t listen. He made me get out of the car and walk the line and blow into the breathalyzer, and when it came out clean, when I stood on one foot while counting backwards from fifty, he still wrote me a ticket, five hundred dollars and a four-point violation for road rage. It wasn’t road rage! I’m getting so angry just thinking about it! I’m a fucking victim here, goddamn it! And why the hell would a truck be covered by totally polished mirrors on the sides? What kind of a purpose does that serve?