July 31, 2006

road rage confession

Yesterday I spent the afternoon helping Cynthia with her wedding invitations. The process was involved, requiring precision and creativity. I decided that if I get married, that will be a "pay someone to do it" expense. I always thought wedding invitations were easy, I was wrong.

As I was heading out the door to drive home (at 12:15 in the morning) I joked with her brother Donny about our records times from Kingsburg to Kerman. (He dated some Kerman girls years ago.) The towns are both farming communities, with populations around 9,000. The distance is about 38 miles between the two, and the only landmark along the way is the city of Fresno- the rest is wide open country road. He bragged a record of 18 minutes, admitting he was driving "over a buck twenty". My best time is 24 minutes, set 2 years ago, I'm pretty proud of it. It's legit, 24 minutes.

So last night I jumped on the 99 freeway and looked at my clock.. 12:21. I was cruising along, no one else was on the road. I turned up the Classic Rock station and looked forward to getting home. I slowed down for construction zones and overall was making great time, my (alleged) narcolepsy started to kick in, so I rolled down the windows. I got on the 180, and the country road began. Grapevineyards, almond orchards surrounding a two lane highway, big moon in the sky, windows rolled down and steering wheel tapping Classic Rock.. not bad at all.

On this 17 mile stretch of road there is only one opportunity for a passing lane. I got behind a brand new Mitsubishi just before the passing lane started. Great, I thought, as he was traveling slower than I was, it couldn't come at a better time. When the lane started, I waited for him to move over to the slow lane, that didn't happen. So I moved over and started to pass him. That's when he gunned his gas and went well "over a buck twenty" to not allow me to pass. I refused to make eye contact, and definitely did not desire to drive anywhere near 120 mph. When the passing lane ended he slowed down again, considerably. At this point there were a procession of cars so I couldn't cross over to their lane to pass. Two different times, I tried to pass when the road was clear and he again sped up so I couldn't... then slowed down to a crawl of 30 mph when it was impossible for me to pass.

I've NEVER had road rage before. I've sat in hours of traffic in LA, lived in Ft. Lauderdale with infamous Canadian drivers, and travelled internationally with crazy car experiences... but never have I wanted to yell and kick someone in their shin because of their driving.

Maybe it's because it felt so personal. Maybe it's because I was tired, Maybe it's that he ruined my Rock session. Maybe it's because I took well over 45 minutes to get home. Maybe it was because he pulled into the city of Kerman and the only thing I could do was hold down my horn for about 5 seconds. Maybe it was because he was from my little town and I hate to think jerks live here. Lastly, maybe it's because this town is so small- that it's likely I know that jerk.

Whatever the reason, I raged inside. I don't even remotely have anger issues, but if that guy confessed in the grocery store today, I'd want to shake my head and tell him he's rude. The truth is... I'd probably shake my head and then ask "How have you been since high school? How's the family? Do you still have your dog Max? blah. blah. blah." The sad part is that I'd really care about the family and dog and the Mitsubishi driver. And I'd forget about the virtual fight scene I created, while driving 37mph on a 60mph road. For the record, I won the fight, easily.

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