Beautiful days and road rage
I was driving into town last week on one of those sweet mornings when it seemed as if spring had finally decided to show up for real – and maybe even stick around. The sky was clear and the air was warm. A great morning.I stopped for the red light at the Owl Creek intersection. I was five or six cars back from the light and when it turned green we all started moving ahead slowly. Then, at the point where two lanes merge into one, someone came racing up on my right and made it clear that he was determined to wedge into line in front of me.There wasn’t any room in front of me; traffic was moving slowly, and we were all bumper-to-bumper. Still, most of the time I would have slowed up – even hit my brakes – and let the guy into line. Hey, I’ve been that guy on the right often enough, looking for a space in line, so I can empathize. Anyway, once you’re in that two-lane stretch, heading into town, one more car in front of you doesn’t make much difference.But this time I wasn’t inclined to make room – mostly because this wasn’t a car looking to get in front of me. It was a large-size delivery van, like one of the big UPS trucks, except this one wasn’t UPS. It was white, not brown.I don’t like getting stuck behind big trucks. Often as not, they’re spewing clouds of black exhaust, which makes for an unpleasant drive. Plus, I hate having my view of the road ahead completely blocked, which is what happens when you’re right behind a truck.It’s not a big deal, but, what the heck, this guy had already passed half a dozen other cars, so I figured he could get in line behind me. I glanced in the mirror and the car behind me had dropped back. There was plenty of room back there.So I held my place and the delivery truck slowed and pulled in line behind me.All pretty simple.Then I checked the mirror again and I could see the driver of the truck, clearly visible through the big vertical windshield. And he was giving me the finger. He was working at it, pumping his arm up and down and waving his hand from side to side a little, just to make sure I got the message.I thought it seemed a little excessive. I hadn’t cut him off or sped up to deny him a place in line. But still, just because I was having a nice morning didn’t mean everyone else had to be in a good mood.I took another look in the mirror. He was still waving that big middle finger at me.Geez.Eventually, traffic got up to speed and we headed on into town. The truck dropped back and I forgot about him.When I got to Mill Street, I pulled into the left-turn lane to go down to the post office. I looked to my right and that delivery van had caught up to me and, as he passed, he slowed down and leaned out to make some more vigorous obscene gestures.I was impressed. This guy had held a grudge for the entire 10 minutes from Owl Creek into town.Then, as he pulled past me, I burst out laughing.On the side of the van, in big letters, it said “Sno-White.”I was getting flipped off – with great hostility – by Snow White. It was like going to Disneyland and getting mugged by Goofy.I wondered if maybe the driver was overcompensating, if perhaps he felt his masculinity was threatened because he had to drive around all day labeled “Sno-White.”I thought about the final scenes in the movie “Ghost Busters,” where New York City is threatened with destruction by the demonic, 100-foot-tall Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man.And then … then I just had to smile. Because it was still a beautiful spring day.And I wasn’t the one in a rage.Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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