Friday, July 21, 2006

Rage Against Road Rage

So my home city drivers struck again last week, and as a result, I've been sorely tempted to start executing my long-ago idea to saw Florida off the continent and watch it float away. A few months back, when I first hatched this nefarious plan, it was mainly due to the sheer number of buzzing, twitchy, fangy, nastyass bugs and arachnids that keep scuttling into my house despite the fact that I've practically put a thick layer of caulks and sealants around the entire structure--hairy spiders, quick little scorpions, beetles the size of my head, and one giant, crunchy millipede that nearly carried off the baby before I threw an ottoman at it. (It might still be flailing angrily under there, for all I know, since I haven't moved said ottoman since the traumatic millipede sighting. The ottoman still sits in a totally random spot in my living room, tilted at a crazy angle between my TV and the wall....)

This time, the resurrection of my Free Florida! plan is due to the road rage. (OK, and the bugs. Always the bugs.)

Let me just say that I'm tempted to buy one of those neon advertising signs that some cities put on their taxis, and program it to say, "I have small children in this car, YOU FREAKING MORON." Because the road rage in my city is really starting to freak me out. Keep in mind that I've lived and driven in some cities with the alleged "worst drivers" in the US--Boston, DC, Chicago, Los Angeles--and I reguarly played chicken with the buses and taxis in Seoul, Korea. I've NEVER been afraid of driving. You simply keep up with the speed in DC, use your turn signal and let people merge in L.A., try not to let the construction in Chicago make you insane, and close your eyes and pray in Boston (Flailing your hands and swearing helps sometimes, too). In Seoul, you always, always let the taxis and buses win. But THIS stupid, smallish, deceptively benign-looking Florida city that I live in? It's horrifying. It makes L.A. freeways look like the country roads around Random Lake, Wisconsin.

I suspect it might be the poor water quality here--I've read that excess quantities of lead can lead to aggressive tendencies and a loss of I.Q. So maybe my area is devolving into a bunch of slow-witted slackjaws bent on mutual self-destruction by automobile--like the Morlocks in HG Wells' The Time Machine if someone had given them a bunch of Hummers and pickup trucks. If I just wait a few years, they might all Darwin themselves off the planet by crashing together into the ocean out of sheer spite.

Problem is, I have my girls in the car with me most days when I'm driving, and I don't think I can wait that long. People tailgate in the RIGHT LANE here, even when the left lane is empty. If they don't like something you did, no matter how legal, they'll veer around you and slam on their brakes when they're directly in front of you, causing you to slam on yours and give your entire family a nasty case of whiplash. (I think I've mentioned before that a doctor here KILLED a woman with this brilliant manoeuver.) Nobody uses his/her blinker, opting instead to come to a careening halt seconds before making a surprise turn.

Last week, I was driving along in my calm, quiet, newly built neighborhood-with-no-soul, with a large white truck a polite, one-car distance behind me. As the four-lane road we were on changed to a two-lane road, some blisteringly stupid driver in a BMW suddenly veered around the truck and abruptly squeezed into the space between us, causing the truck to slam on his brakes. The BMW started tailgating me (apparently because I had made the unfathomable decision NOT to go 80 mph in a residential area), and the obviously peeved driver of the white truck started tailgating him. We made a nice little cars-and-truck sandwich all the way down the road, until I turned into my subdivision-with-no-soul, hoping that the two would just keep going. Instead, they followed me, and we sandwiched our way closer to my house. And then, in my rearview mirror, I watched the BMW driver wrench his wheel to the left and U-turn RIGHT INTO THE WHITE TRUCK.

Why this sudden display of driving brilliance, you ask? Clearly, it was road rage: The BMW driver wanted to surprise the tailgating truck driver and make him slam on his brakes. Instead, Beemer McAngryPants crunched up his shiny new BMW, then got out of said car and started puffing out his chest, obviously itching for a fight.

I left before the two "drivers" could start throwing punches, afraid that if I stuck around, they might get back into their vehicles and start slamming them into my Scion for fun. And regular visitors know that my Scion has been through a lot already this year.

I won't go into the 911 call I made to report the accident and the reckless driving, because it makes my head want to explode, but suffice to say it involved repeating myself slowly and loudly several times over while the operator interrupted me now and then to discuss her manicure with a coworker.

Sometimes, a girl just needs an idiot-seeking ray gun....


Jen said...

OMG! That's awful! I am definitely glad I live in a rural area with little traffic. Road rage exists here, but it's pretty mellow compared to this.
Wow, what a story.
Grrrrrr. If a 911 operator did that I would definitely say something because they're recorded.
What a pain in the butt for you though.

Tracy Montoya said...

I told the cop who called me, Jen, as well as the Sheriff's office, but I don't think they particularly cared. Maybe I could call and ask for a dispatch supervisor, but somehow, I don't think it would help.

Karen said...

Yay for our tax dollars at work.

I'm cringing thinking I'm about to start doing that 2x daily drive from the beach to downtown and back again - 3 more weeks til the kids are back in school. Atlantic Blvd has more red light runners than tail-gateing fools, and a very large number of people who should just be riding the bus instead.

Tracy Montoya said...

Karen, for some reason I thought you lived in Georgia. Huh. And I've always harbored the idea that everything was better by the beaches. So sorry to hear that's not the case. We have red light runners over here, too. So annoying.

Sharron said...

As long as we're sawing off states...let's include TX. :-)

MaryF said...

Oh, good LORD!!! What a mess.

And Sharron....heyyyyy!!!

Bruce said...

It doesn't matter whether you have a wedding cake to deliever, a hot crock of baked beans sitting on the seat going to a picnic at Hanna Park, or a half dozen kids on board - most people think their responsibilities to others on the road ends just outside of their bumpers. There is at least one human life in every moving vehicle and that alone demands common courtesy. Problem is, common courtesy just isn't all that common anymore.

Tracy Montoya said...

Wow, I'm behind in my comments to comments. Sharron, we can totally include TX.

Hi, Mary! I didn't realize you and Sharron knew each other!

Tracy Montoya said...

Bruce, that's all so true. Everyone deserves to have their safety respected on the road, but too often that's not the case.

Anyway, welcome!

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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