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In which I grow a pair … of ovaries

It’s been possibly two years since I last did a guest post for my dear husband. I think it was a drunken rant. You’ll just have to pretend this one is drunken too as I forgot to drink.

After running some errands for work today, my boss and I decided to take a quick detour through the local Tim Horton’s drive-thru for coffee. This particular drive-thru has recently been upgraded to have two lanes for ordering which merge into one lane to approach the pick-up window. As we are nearing the ordering pillar and I roll down my window I am vaguely aware of some yelling coming from somewhere behind us but my brain isn’t really focused on it as I’m currently engaged in the long standing coffee ritual of “Don’t worry I’ve got it.” “Really? You don’t have to, I have some money.” “Really, no worries, it’s my treat.” “Look I’ve got change right here!” “No, really, it’s ok I have my card, don’t worry about it.” “Oh, ok, well thanks! Medium double-double then!”(c’mon, you’ve all done it). My boss on the other hand, free to look around at the new set up while I order listens to a large amount of ruckus coming from the other lane.

As I finish confirming my order I hear some of the yelling and it seems to be something involving traffic. I also hear my boss say “Get a load of this guy!” So I hesitate before pulling through to the merging lane because I suspect this guy is going to fly right through without looking. My suspicions are confirmed and he pulls through with his large, beat up looking, old, red SUV of some sort and stops extremely close to the car in front of him. As I cautiously approach behind him I can see him leaning out of his window, smoking and yelling incoherently at the car in front.

At this point the scene has my attention but mostly in the ‘uh … wow ok” kind of way as I’m uncertain if the two cars are full of some rowdy kids yelling back and forth or what (that happens a lot here). I become slightly alarmed however when he repeatedly revs his vehicle up to within an inch of the car in front, looking like he seriously wants to run it over. The merge lane rounds a corner of the building and it is then that I can see that the car in front has a single occupant, a small, young woman who is looking purposefully ahead and making no attempts at all to respond to this guy behind her. Unless you count slouching slightly a response.

My attention is now fully on the man as he is continuing to yell and curse at her while coming within inches of rear-ending her car. He stops on the last small movement forward of the line and I think to myself “Ok, this jerk has had his fill of road rage for the day, that was uncomfortable and ridiculous but no real harm done I guess, it’s over.” I am really not a confrontational person and am somewhat ashamed that I have walked by my share of people yelling at each other on the street, trying to pretend I didn’t see it. Lack of courage, self-preservation, societal pressures, call it what you will but I lack the certain something that lets heroes be heroes. I certainly don’t agree with the things I see and this was a perfect example of such, and so I grumbled and agreed whole heartedly when my boss said “People like him are dangerous, drivers with road rage like that.”

I was not expecting what happened next however. Jerk guy gets out of his car and immediately I sit up a little straighter. Every sense in my body fires into overdrive and I experience a pretty severe case of tunnel vision as I watch the guy walk up to the woman’s car. I can’t hear what he’s saying as he bends down into her window but I can clearly see that she is continuing to make no motions to acknowledge him and is still just staring straight ahead both hands on the wheel.

And then he spits in her face.

Read it again. He SPIT IN HER FACE.

At this point, I know, I KNOW, you’re right, it could have been much worse but FUCK THAT! And that is basically what my brain did. I think I actually heard something snap in my head. As the guy smugly walked back to his car I leaned out my window and yelled “Oi! To get his attention and then told him to “Piss off!” In hindsight yelling “Leave her alone” would have been much better but I was enraged. He of course responded with “Mind your own fucking business” and as he did so started to lean towards walking past his car and coming over to my truck but visibly checked the passenger seat first, saw my boss, hesitated and went back to his car. I yelled back to him “How about you not be a fucking asshole!” To which he simply repeated, “Mind your fucking business.”

I really should have said “Dude you’re in PUBLIC, how about you stop fucking harassing that woman and we’ll go back to minding our own fucking business you fucking disgrace of a human being.” But again, I was on autopilot and it seems my rage brain doesn’t articulate well.

He drove away and the adrenalin hit me. I don’t confront people! I was simultaneously proud of myself for saying something and disgusted that so many people are expected to (and like me gladly do) mind their own business in that situation. We did manage to get his license plate number but I’m not really sure what to do with it. I couldn’t see hers and unfortunately when I turned to collect my order I missed seeing where she drove off to as I had every intention of following her (sounds creepy) just to check if she was all right.

This is not okay. This is NOT OKAY PEOPLE! No, I did not know the details of what ever happened to provoke this jerk, but I don’t care. You don’t do that. And people like him need to know that it’s NOT OKAY to do that!

I know that it is hard to stand up, I really really really know. That was my first time ever, it was hard, I felt sick, I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I did it because I knew with 100% certainty that I was doing the right thing because people have a right not to be assaulted.

Maybe she did something really terrible. Maybe she pulled the guys dog from his vehicle and ran it over. Terrible! Terrible person! Deserves trial and jail and punishment! Still a fucking PERSON and deserves the bare minimum of fucking HUMAN DECENCY.

Now for that drink.

Comments

  1. says

    Well done, Jodi. I never know quite the right thing to say in the heat of the moment, so I too have wonderfully-framed, articulate things to shout… usually about one minute too late. It’s not uncommon.

  2. says

    Given my past history, I’d predict I’d have gotten even more involved (which might actually prove to be rather reckless some day)–I got a rush of adrenaline even reading your account.

    I once got in between two strangers (men) fighting on a sidewalk so they stopped; another time I made sure that a guy who was being verbally abusive to his partner in a first floor apartment knew I was watching from the street down below and when he told me to mind my own business, I said I am and that I was going to stay to make sure that he didn’t do anything to her.

    The only time looking back that I’m really angry with myself that I didn’t do more* was when I went with a friend to her ex-boyfriend’s place to pick up something (can’t recall what). If I recall correctly, they had both recently graduated high school. I was in second year of uni. He was alone and his parents were out. He let us in the house, but he wouldn’t give whatever it was back to her until he’d said his piece. They were upstairs and I was waiting in the foyer at the foot of the stairs. He started yelling at her and then grabbed her by the hair and was pulling her toward the stairs/railing. I told him to stop and said I would call the police (this was before cell phones, so I would have had to leave them to go search for a landline in the kitchen or wherever). I don’t know what would have happened but at just that moment his parents came home. Of course he let her go at that point and they never saw him with his hands on her. They intervened and made me leave my friend upstairs with him while we (his parents and I) all went to the basement to watch tv while they “worked it out”. Man. What I wouldn’t give to go back and tell his parents to go fuck themselves and call the police like I had wanted to. That guy should have been arrested for assault. But I was just 19 or 20 and still used to adults having veto power.

    *Actually, after writing this out, it calls to mind another time involving the same friend a few years before. It’s not quite the same, because I didn’t have an opportunity to get involved at the time the incident occurred, but I regret not doing more after the fact. We were in the Dominican Republic. We were 16 and not used to all the male attention we were getting from the men at the resort we were at. She came back to our room one night and told me she’d been raped by the guy (an employee of the resort) she had been engaging in a flirtation with. I had no clue what to say or do. I’d never even heard of date rape then (this is mid-80s). She cried. I don’t remember what I said. Probably not much in the way of help. Thank the gods that I didn’t say or imply that it was her fault or that I didn’t believe her. Still. I wish I’d been more useful/supportive/whatever. Neither of us ever told my family (it was my family we were on vacation with). Apparently, when she told her mother, her mother said she was lying.

  3. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    And people like him need to know that it’s NOT OKAY to do that!

    I’m not familiar with road rage types.
    Are they seriously that ignorant of decorum,
    or more dangerously, do they not care?
     
    Article: Wikipedia – Road rage, as a medical condition

  4. says

    A lot of people have smartphones these days – I keep mine in a cradle in the car ready to record video/sound in case of incident. I drive in London and there are some real loonies on the road. Not like this posts example but one got out of his car a while back and I grabbed my phone and pointed it at him as if recording. I’d not had the idea at the point as I was new to road rage in the city so was flustered and just pretended – unlocking and pressing record was too hard when adrenaline was flowing. He did a double take and backed off into the car. Next time – if it’s me or not – I’m determined to actually get a recording, at the least it could make a good YouTube video. I’m undecided if this will actually defuse situations but it is easier in a way than trying to reason with someone who is angry – especially as my reaction is likely to get angry myself and shout back!

  5. Jodi Thibeault says

    The cell phone recording idea is a great one and I even had my cell with me but didn’t even think to use it.

  6. embraceyourinnercrone says

    Unfortunately road rage is very common and at least in the US it is made worse by the availability of handguns.

    A few examples:

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/07/02/road-rage-behind-shooting-16-year-old-maine-girl-shot-along-major-interstate/

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-seattle-road-rage-20120924,0,524272.story

    That’s the downside to confronting someone in this situation you don’t know if they have a weapon, which maybe why the woman he was yelling at was just trying to ignore him, if you engage in conversation with someone who’s already in a rage they may escalate…

  7. jackal says

    Reminds me of the only time I intervened in harassment between strangers. Daytime, busy intersection, my partner and I were on foot waiting for the light to change. The van next to me was being driven by a woman of color. A car of white male teens pulled up next to her, and one shouted out the window, with a bad Mexican accent, the word “negro.” The woman in the car purposefully ignores them. Furious, I walk over and spit on their car. They shout something at me, and I flip them off. I couldn’t let them drive off thinking that that kind of behavior was acceptable. With the traffic and witnesses, my partner’s presence, and the fact that they were in a car and I was on foot, I didn’t think they’d have much of an opportunity to retaliate. Fortunately, I was right. The light changes, and they drive off, shouting, as I continue to flip them off.

  8. Tracey says

    I live in the USA and I encounter road rage all the time for daring to drive while female and petite. Someone wants the lane I’m in and just tries to barge right through me, expecting me to pull to the shoulder of the road to let them on. I’ve also encountered the, what, reverse of road rage? Road passive-aggressive? Example: there’s an exit coming up in about a mile. You put on your turn signal and the person in front of you speeds up/slows down to ride alongside you and block you from exiting, and once past the exit, speeds up giving you the finger. I’ve taken to putting on the turn signal two exits before I need it, and when they speed up, I slide in right behind them and I’m set for my exit. I’ve had that backfire, though; one jerk who was paying attention slammed on his brakes and STOPPED on the freeway. I had been paying attention and had left enough room to dodge around him and get in front of him, whereupon he floored it and flashed his lights and screamed at me until I took the exit.

  9. says

    A detail Jodi left out in the description is that he was apparently yelling at one point about a roundabout. It’s relatively new in town — only been there for about a year and a half — and people evidently don’t know how to use it. I’m very strongly leaning toward this being a road rage incident.

  10. John Horstman says

    @12: Could be; I’ve very nearly been hit on my bike (for the record, unlike a high percentage of cyclists I observe, I always follow traffic laws on my bike, including signaling both turns and lane changes, turning from the proper lane, and always coming to complete stops at stop signs; cyclists who break traffic laws induce rage in me as well, even when they don’t collide with me as a result of running a stop sign) twice by people making illegal left turns at a roundabout instead of driving around it. Nearly being killed or grievously injured tends to induce rage in me (I have no idea what was going on in the situation Jodi saw, of course; if it WAS a roundabout mishap, it could just as easily have been that the asshole guy made the illegal move and was pissed at the woman for actually following traffic laws).

    I’m a little torn, though: as inappropriate as the rageful display likely was, people breaking traffic laws is even less appropriate (I’ve been hit three times so far as a result, and one of those times resulted in me having facial scarring and chronic back problems). Given that traffic laws are enforced somewhere between sporadically and not at all, confronting people, perhaps very angrily, may be the only way to communicate that DRIVING BADLY is not acceptable. Jodi argues that even someone who does something terrible is “still a fucking PERSON and deserves the bare minimum of fucking HUMAN DECENCY,” but at the point where someone considers hir convenience getting somewhere thirty seconds faster more important than my well-being, I’m not sure I agree.

    Again, I’m not sure the guy’s rage was at all justified, but if I were in a position where someone had missed hitting me by inches because ze pulled some thoughtless, illegal move (or thoughtful, illegal move consciously intended to frighten, intimidate, or harass me – this happens once every month or two), I could see myself behaving in a similar fashion to that guy. The only time I had the chance to actually confront someone – who nearly hit me by failing to yield right of way at an intersection where ze had a stop sign and I didn’t – I wasn’t exactly shouting and I didn’t spit at hir, but I did swear a lot and use a forceful tone in explaining how ze had almost hit me and how if being one car length closer to hir destination was more important than my life, I hoped ze encountered someone with the same attitude, soon, at high velocity.

  11. says

    @14: You’re fucking kidding me, right?

    Note that this was not a car vs. bike incident, but car vs. car.

    Assuming that she did something stupid at the roundabout (whether through inconsiderate haste, or just having trouble figuring out where she was going): his reaction was to use his vehicle as an instrument of intimidation (note also that he came close to hitting Jodi’s car), culminating in an act of assault. That’s way over the line of any reasonable, controlled angry response. That should be grounds for roadside suspension, and you don’t get your license back until you’ve passed an anger management course. Drivers *will* do dumb things (and don’t tell me you’ve never), part of being a good driver is knowing how to keep your cool and not retaliate.

  12. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Again, I’m not sure the guy’s rage was at all justified

    You’re “not sure” if a large angry man spitting in the face of a small women is “justified”?

  13. jamie says

    As a 17 year old guy (20 years ago), I intervened in a fight between two teenage girls who were smashing each other’s heads into the footpath. One of them kicked me in the groin, which necessitated a weeklong stay in hospital after complications from the haematoma that developed. My brother has been bashed after trying to stop a couple of guys beating up another guy at a fast food joint.

    It’s a tough situation – you always want to help people when you spot such egregious imbalances of power, but there’s always this uncomfortable undercurrent of self preservation lurking beneath the surface. Where do you draw the line with injecting yourself into these situations?

  14. Red-Green in Blue says

    John Horstman,

    Given that traffic laws are enforced somewhere between sporadically and not at all, confronting people, perhaps very angrily, may be the only way to communicate that DRIVING BADLY is not acceptable.

    And then again, it might not.

    I am an exceedingly boring, careful driver, and it absolutely does my head in to see the sheer incompetence, speeding and outright lack of consideration for other road users. But once, I lost it with another driver after being forced to do an emergency stop by a particularly insane piece of inappropriate (and pointless) overtaking at speed near a pedestrian crossing on a congested inner-city residential street with lots of pedestrians around. It was such a shockingly bad piece of driving that I start shouting, playing my horn and revving my engine at the offending driver, with the result that this huge guy got out of his car and started striding towards mine while apparently feeling for something in his jacket. As he did so, one of his three male passengers got out of the other side and started making his way to the other side of my car (i.e. he wasn’t coming to stop his friend going over the edge). For all I know, I might have been the latest stabbing victim on the BBC news that night, but I was saved by the fact that there were so many other people around and the traffic started to move, so that he was causing an obstruction and other drivers started beeping horns impatiently.

    That was fifteen years ago, and I still get a cold chill when I remember it. It was an utterly stupid thing to do and completely counterproductive.

    I, and many other cyclists these days, use helmet cams to constantly record the traffic for evidence in case of careless or dangerous driving, aggression, or collision. (And if someone is so determined as to try and steal or damage both cams, then that in itself will look pretty bad in court.) A pair of the new HD 16:9 ones sold for snow-boarding and skiing provide essentially all-round coverage. Such footage has led to several prosecutions and publicly shamed one bus company in Glasgow into retraining their drivers.

    I suggest that this is a far better way of dealing with bad driving than aggression – which invariably turns the initially aggrieved party into the worse driver.

  15. hypatiasdaughter says

    #10 Tracey You don’t, by chance, live in Georgia? ‘Cause think they must teach that maneuver in the driving schools here.
    My husband drives a Ford 250 and people pull that crap all the time. They pass him, pull in front of him and then slow down. I figure they feel they are entitled to be first in line.
    And I think turn signals are illegal here, because they are so rarely used.
    Someone once joked that they don’t use their turn signal because it’s nobody’s business where they are going – except I am not sure they meant it as a joke.

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