Funny Stories About Past Me (FSAPM): Road Rage

There’s a new TIT in town. On a repeated (at least more than once) basis, Ashley and I will be bringing a little joy into your lives with amusing anecdotes featuring ourselves. Yes. It’s that navel gazing.

This is a blog.

I won’t be delving as far back into the past as Ashley did. This week, I bring you a story of a 27-year-old Bethro and her big mouth.

I think we can all agree that road rage is bad. Tragic things happen when drivers or those interacting with drivers become angry. My policy is “don’t engage.” Just move along. You never know when you are going to encounter that crazy who just can’t believe you “cut him off” (i.e., turned in front of him).

Good policy. And I stick to it. Except for maybe once every two years. I have no idea what happens when I am incapable of keeping my mouth shut. Some combo of too many video games and devil music or maybe the planets are in a poor alignment or maybe it’s some other cliche I have not thought of.

It was especially hard for me in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s tough to move to a new part of the country and not understand the rules. And the people you now live next to don’t even understand that their rules might be different and you need a little slack. They just think you’re an idiot.

It does no good to dwell on how quickly they would be smooshed on Storrow Drive or how many one ways they would get wrong near Weybosset Street or whether they would even make it onto Route One in Saugus. You just have to try to adapt. But it’s hard.

On one particular evening, I was driving through North Berkeley at the tail end of my 1 1/2 hour commute back home from my corporate monkey job. I was on Solano Ave (that means something to some of the crowd). Tired, in my air-conditioning-less car, I failed to see a pedestrian behind a car about to cross a crosswalk.

Ignoring my lack of x-ray vision, let me explain something to those who have not experienced Bay Area pedestrian self-righteousness.  People will dart out in front of cars because they have the right of way. They do have the right of way – no arguments there. But, it seems to me that if some driver fails to see you in time and you weigh a small fraction of the thing about to hit you, right of way does not matter. Furthermore, some street-crossers take this right so far that they march into the crosswalk with hands held out to either side telling everyone to STOP for them.

So a woman crosses in front of me. I brake fast. My tires squeal. My heart pounds.

And then.

She yells at me.

“It’s a crossWALK” she hollers and gestures widely with her arms to show me. I’m already pumped up from the scare, but now I am angry as well.

I stick my head out the window (sorry for the next part, Mim).

“And I fucking STOPPED” I let her know.

“But you had to brake fast” she retorts

I grow angrier and stick my head further out the window. “So you don’t like HOW I stopped?” I demand of her.

Except not of her, but of her back. Because she is power walking away from me.

Because in this case, I am the crazy person and she shouldn’t have engaged.

When he gets in the car, Mr Walker becomes Mr Wheeler

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4 Responses to Funny Stories About Past Me (FSAPM): Road Rage

  1. M M Mim says:

    No one ever deserved the F-bomb more than she.

  2. I remember hearing about this the next day at work. You were still furious.

  3. bethG says:

    You are awesome. Probably my first week living in Mountain View, I had a similar experience with a homeless woman walking where the sidewalk intersected the Target exit… she pounded the hood of my car. I just hadn’t seen her before, but I did stop in time and unlike normal people back in StL, she didn’t just walk behind my car– but insisted on walking in front. I’ve never seen so many unyielding pedestrians as in the Bay area.

    • Beth says:

      The worst part is that I have unknowingly adopted some of the attitude. I’ll treat crosswalks as though they have a shield around them and in Massachusetts, watch out! Not good.

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