Saturday, April 10, 2004

"911, what is the nature of your emergency?"

This morning I added to my life’s tally of highly disturbing car-related/road rage incidents. I was on my way to work (9 a.m. on a Saturday) and merged from a local residential street onto a medium-sized highway (U.S. 50 East near Rosslyn). It’s a bit of a blind merge, and while I definitely did a head check, I did also assume that because it was early on a Saturday morning that I would be pretty much in the clear. I merged one lane, then two. As I finished pulling into the center lane I did a final rear-view mirror check and there was a car ON TOP OF ME. Clearly this guy had been going very fast and I hadn’t seen him the first time b/c he wasn’t close enough to me yet, but by the time I hit the 2nd lane, there he was, and I had pretty much (completely inadvertently) cut him off. I, of course, felt badly about this, and did the obligatory cringe and mouthed “I’m sorry” while looking back at him. Feeble gesture, but the sentiment was genuine.

Well, apparently dude was spoiling for a fight, because he proceeded to speed up, pull in front of me and cut me off and then slowed way, WAY down in jerky fits and starts—i.e. I totally had to watch his every move and jam on my breaks because rear-ending him was a real possibility (we're talking slowing us both down to 10-15 mph on a 50 mph road). He was in prime jackass mode, so I resolved to change lanes and leave him be, except...whenever I tried to change lanes, so did he, staying in front me, continuing to slow down sporadically, cutting me off, weaving in front of me to prevent me from passing, turning on his hazards, etc. For a second I thought he was a cop and was trying to pull me over, but no siren, no lights—just a pure, scary ass hole.

Finally, fed up, I grabbed my phone, held it up and clearly mouthed “I’M CALLING THE POLICE.” Which I did. He seemed to find this even more cause to harass me, rolling down his window and sticking his hand (unsurprisingly clad in those knuckle-less racing gloves) and own cell phone out the window and wagging them at me. Finally the 911 dispatcher picked up and I reported him…Foolio has a personalized Virginia plate and I spent enough time looking at his bumper that I could say exactly what make, model, and color, and practically what year his car was for the police. As soon as he saw that I was genuinely making a call and talking to someone he took the first exit he could. I doubt that the 5-0 will find him, but it made me feel better to make the call nonetheless, and seeing me do it is what finally got him to back off.

So…I just don’t understand behavior like that. I get mad at other drivers all the time—if you’ve ever ridden with me you know this. I keep up a steady stream of “NICE one, Maryland” and similar commentary. But that’s as far as it goes. I would never use my car to give someone “payback” nor would I ever become physically or verbally aggressive. There is just NO NEED. I think the fact that he was a he and I’m a she played some part in it, but there’s more to it than that.

Anyway…if you see a dark silver/gray 2003 VW Passat w/ Virginia plates JAH FIRE, feel free to make a citizens’ arrest. Call me for backup.


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