Just walk away
I didn’t think things like this still happened, but boy, was I wrong. A few days ago, I was preparing to make a left turn into a down-valley gas emporium from Killer 82. My turn lane was about 200 feet ahead, and noticing a pickup truck directly on my tail, I flicked on the appropriate turn signal a little early, supposing the tail-gater would have enough opportunity to figure out my intentions and back off a bit.As I began to slow down to enter the proper turn lane, this “dude” started laying on his horn and flashing his headlights at me. With a big roar of his diesel engine, he got right on the rear bumper of my canvas-topped Jeep Wrangler and, I swear, there wasn’t room enough left to even get something small, such as his brain, in between the two vehicles.I figured this was his turn to express his displeasure and on the way by, would probably flaunt his lack of imagination by flashing a single digit at me, but to my surprise, he followed me directly into the filling station. This upped the ante a bit, as there was now a plethora of possibilities opening up before my mind, none of them particularly pleasant. I wondered just how crazy he might be, and hoped he’d cool down as fast as he seemed to heat up. And, on the other hand (as in “fat chance”), he might have something useful to say. This guy was probably not a gun totin’ maniac, or he’d have given me the courtesy of realizing I might have one, as well. No, before stopping at the pumps, I figured we were down to knives and fists, in anticipation of further developments.Most cranky people use their cars as a “shielded” extension of themselves in trying to “get even” with other drivers. When it comes to face-to-face confrontation, they usually disappear like snow on a warm day. Which, of course, takes it out of the realm of “road rage” and puts it more into the “pissing match” category. These drivers are the original “airbags.” Once I stopped, this guy was a little hesitant about what to do, and the upper hand was mine, I reckoned. Instead of jumping out of his truck and continuing with the momentum he had started, he pulled up on my left, on the opposite side of the pumps and rolled the passenger window down. Maybe he was smarter than I gave him credit for earlier. The passenger seat contained a reasonably good-looking dog of hard-to-determine mix, and he (the dog) looked at me as though he might want to be friendly, almost in an apologetic way, as if to say, “It’s always crazy in here.”As I reached the truck, the driver began asking me, in a very distraught voice, what kind of a “dick head” did I think I was? My reply was at the tip of my tongue, something brilliant like, “I didn’t realize we got a choice,” but he kept repeating “dick head” over and over so fast that I wasn’t getting a chance to clearly state my rejoinder. And I’ve learned that it’s foolhardy to waste a good one – rejoinder, that is. Between all the name calling, he informed me (incorrectly, according to statute) that it was my responsibility to get out of his way by crossing the double-yellow line that divides the highway and slow down somewhere else besides in front of his big diesel “work” truck. Never mind the oncoming traffic. In the old days, I might have taken a chance on the friendly looking mutt and crawled in the passenger door with a blaze of speed, blood in my eye, trying to “educate” this name-caller with a little Western manipulation of my own. We’d have both regretted it. Besides, his continual reference to male sexual appendages was getting tiresome, he was beginning to embarrass himself, and I realized he had problems far worse than my Jeep and me. There was only one thing left to do. I turned and walked away. Tony Vagneur’s column appears in The Aspen Times every Saturday. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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