"If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain."

Adlai E. Stevenson Jr.

A Library in Your Pocket

December 28, 2009

Road Rage: Zero to Homicidal in Two Blocks

I was first in line  at the four way intersection, but had to miss my turn because some pedestrians  were still in the crosswalk directly in my path. By the time my way was clear, another car had already started to turn out of turn so again I had no choice but to wait.

More often than I wish were true,  my reaction to such minor irritants is grossly disproportionate.  But this day,  I was unfazed.   I had just finished walking my two dogs, it was a sunny Sunday early afternoon and I was  feeling uncharacteristically  mellow and forgiving. Then came the horn from the car behind.

Fully prepared to ignore the obnoxious honking and continue on my nearly merry way, I proceeded through the intersection. The honker pulled out from behind and gunned it to my driver side.  "You fucking idiot," he screamed.  "Get off the road asshole,"  his girlfriend screeched.

I will be the first to admit I can be a fucking idiot,  I am often an asshole and there are many times I should get off the road. But this was not one of those days. I had done nothing wrong. As chance would have it, the honking couple caught the light at the very next block and  continued  their  tirade.  The girlfriend  screamed, "why do you have so many dogs?" Two is not a lot of dogs, I could  have responded, but before I could say anything, the honker shouted. "because she has no friends!"  They were giddy at their imagined triumph over me.

I could have told them that both prudence and the law dictated I give the right of way to those gone by.  I could have told them that  I  had only one dog for the past ten years and just acquired the second dog six months ago when it was abandoned in an alley by some asshole not unlike  themselves. I could have  taken an even higher road and said nothing.  I took the one less high and that made all the difference.

The light would be changing soon.  I didn't have time for rational civility and, frankly,  they didn't deserve it.  I yelled back first to the woman. "What did you say? I can't hear you because  your nose is so big."   To be honest,  she was not unattractive, but  her nose did have a modest Roman hook going on.  She was visibly wounded by the first strike. She tried to say something, but I drowned her out, shouting "big nose big nose big nose." I had her nearly in tears.

Next I  squared off on the honker who was screaming something unintelligible at me. I shouted back, "I can't hear you. Your girlfriend's nose is in the way. No wait. That's a reflection of her nose off your bald head."  Actually, he was a good ten years from bald. The honker tried to lunge at me, but was restrained by his seatbelt. They were now both visibly shaking.

"Big nose bald head big nose bald head!"  I was a  relentless moron.  When  the light finally turned green, he screamed, "We are going to follow you home and kill you."  She nodded in full blown, wide eyed maniacal agreement. I braked to force him ahead of me as we both made a right turn at the light. Pulling behind him, I took out my cell phone and pretended to take pictures of their car.  He made a sudden left and sped off and I proceeded ever more merrily toward home.

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