Friday, April 9, 2010

When Someone Cuts You Off...

Almost immediately when I get on the freeway in the morning, I have to get over into at least the #4 lane. The freeway splits, and I have to split to the left. Most people seem to be unable to read signs because they wait until the last minute to jump to and from the #3 and #4 lanes. As such, I think it's safer to drive in the #2 lane if I'm going south, and the #5-- left-- lane if I'm going north to avoid the idiots. This morning, I tried to do just that when some old asshole decided differently.

I assessed and signaled appropriately. I pulled to the left with caution and speed, so as to not create confusion in the driver behind me. Next thing I know, a horn is blaring, and the car that was a few lengths behind me is now up my ass. Given that we were approaching the merge, I was in the war zone lane, and I was already half way into the left lane, I thought the safest course of action would be to continue my merge. There wasn't time to fully assess what would happen if I had to swerve back into my lane. People could have been trying to take my spot, and if I swerved back, I could have caused an accident.

Most people don't seem to understand that this situation is what the horn is actually used for. Someone was clearly planning on hitting me to get what he wanted, so I honked. When a car is about to hit you, you honk. That's what it's used for. When I realized this old codger was more interested in maintaining his status as king of the left lane than safety, I pulled back into my lane, hoping that didn't have repercussions. It didn't.

What I did next takes some explanation. The other day, I was listening on NPR to a piece about etiquette. Some woman had written a book where she explained basically that she thinks it's the duty of polite people to make rude people feel bad for being rude. Maybe the rude person will learn a lesson, but probably not. More importantly, it's your duty to punish the rude person. He not only acted rudely, he acted dangerously. It is my duty as a polite person to make sure his day is completely ruined.

After the merge, when I was certain there would be no more cars to my right, I pulled out my cell phone. I flipped it open and pointed it at his license plate. I did not take a picture. I then, after assessing there were no other cars in the immediate vicinity, pulled up next to him and pointed my phone at his face. Predictably, he did the same to me, but I'm pretty sure he took pictures.

I hope he spends the rest of the day wondering if I'm going to report him to the police. I actually hope he doesn't learn from this. I hope he thinks of me as the guy who dared to try to merge into his lane then went bitching to the authorities. On my end, whether he goes to the police or not, I have here an immediate written record of my side of the story. He failed to yield the right of way and used his horn illegally. Oh, also he tried to drive me into other cars.

Normally, when this happens, I feel angry, probably because I feel helpless. It feels good to have done something, no matter how small, about it. A word of warning, though. If you think this was a good idea, please, make sure you put driving safety first. If there were other cars close by or if I even had to break the speed limit to do this, I wouldn't have done it.


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