Sunday, August 1, 2010
Why nice people buy pepper spray
It’s a bad thing for everyone when someone craves a feeling of power over their lives and can’t get it. It’s bad for the people who scan their groceries, for their children, for their co-workers, for their pets, and for people behind them on 89.
I’m reasonable in this respect. If someone hunkers down in the left lane doing that passive aggressive 55 mph thing (and it is intentional - you can see them checking the rear view mirror as though to assess their faux power over happy people) I wait and cut out when there’s a chance, then go back over, and coast along until someone comes along who’s in a bigger hurry. Then out I go and back I come, like it’s a happy highway ballet because I like that left lane. It’s zippy and more fun.
But I was one of the twelve or thirteen cars behind such a power-challenged type the other day. While the right lane trudged, clogged with traffic, a red van drove 56 mph in the left lane, eagerly checking out the white SUV in his rear-view mirror who drifted on his tail, wild with frustration. Weaving to the left and right, I thought the white SUV might actually pass on the left. Had there been a sudden stop by the red van, both he and the SUV would have involved more than themselves in a serious wreck.
Suddenly there was a break on the right and the white SUV darted out. With a gust of speed he passed the driver on the left who came unglued. Arms waving, head moving around, screaming, he railed at the SUV, now waaaay up the road. I could see his face in his own mirror, red, twisted.
Now I was behind him in place of the white SUV, but only politely close because traffic was heavy. Too close for him, however. He caught sight of me behind him, and jumped into the right lane. When I pulled alongside him he was like a crazy ape, raging inside a cage. We approached a light, I in the left lane, he on the right and he lowered his window. Pointing at me, he began screaming:
“Hey! Asshole! You’re an asshole!”
I ignored him.
He got louder. “Asshole! You! ASSHOLE!!”
The light took forever, but finally, he got his green arrow and made a right hand turn. Then he took a right into a nearby lot, screeched to a halt, and got out of his car. I said a very bad word and locked my doors. He pointed in my direction, still ranting. Boxed in, I looked at the median to my left and thought about driving over it should this psycho head my way. Then the light turned and I rushed away before anything else happened.
I got to work and sat in my chair looking at the same screen for twenty minutes before I could answer even easy questions.
It’s a bad thing for everyone when someone craves a feeling of power over their lives and can’t get it. It’s bad for the people who scan their groceries, for their children, for their co-workers, for their pets, and for people who have to use their highway to go to work.
With all my heart, I hope this man’s next confrontation is with a person who deals with his type all the time and knows how to put him in his place – like a cop.