The guy in the car next to us was losing his mind. We were stationary in double left-hand turn lanes. His rage wasn’t directed at us. Yet. It was focused instead on the car directly ahead of him, operated by a teenage kid talking on his cellphone.
He kept making “hang up” motions with his fingers. The kid must have seen it in his rearview mirror because he pantomimed a sex act with one of his own fingers.
I don’t agree with people talking on cellphones while driving, but I do enjoy a show. The angrier the guy got, the more “flippant” Kid Cellphone became.
The second the arrow turned green, the guy leaned on his horn even though the vehicles in front of the kid hadn’t had time to move yet.
Out of the corner of his eye, the guy must have seen me smiling because he rolled down his window and challenged us to pull over so he could teach me some manners.
So engrossed was he in settling some imaginary score, that he failed to notice the kid ahead had pulled away. Cars behind him started honking, which caused his rage to go nuclear.
For the next few miles, the guy followed us. He flashed his lights and kept motioning for us to pull over. We didn’t because my wife was driving.
I’m not against fighting per se, only that it has to be for a better reason than someone else talking on his cellphone. Also, I’m old. It takes longer to heal.
The guy finally made a smoking right turn and whatever was driving him out of his mind became someone else’s problem. One could only hope that it didn’t involve his wife and kids.
Most people call this kind of behavior “road rage.” I call it being an [deleted].” It’s amazing how little it takes to drive people to it.
We could help reduce road rage. I’m not sure how it could be scientifically measured, but I suspect that such incidents rarely get their start on the road. Either you’re a jerk to begin with, or you had a bad day and aren’t in the mood to be patient.
If the Legislature wanted to do something helpful, it might consider looking into some way to reduce this public menace. Perhaps some kind of meat thermometer that, when pounded into a driver’s skull by the police, would reveal exactly how furiously impaired a driver was.
Anything over the 0.05 BAC (big a--hole content) would be evidence that you’re too mad to be driving.
Note: In rural or less populated areas, the presumptive level of rage would be 0.08 BAC because few may really care if you go ballistic and hit a cow.
A conviction for DWR (driving while raging) would result in a large fine, loss of driving privileges and a requirement that the meat thermometer remain in your head for a year after regaining your license.
I’m making this suggestion because of my experience investigating rage-caused traffic accidents — like the time a woman felt slighted by a guy in a big four-wheel drive truck.
She followed him around honking and screaming at him. At a stop sign, the guy had enough. He jacked it into four-wheel drive, threw it into reverse and backed up onto the woman’s hood. Then he sped off.
This wouldn’t have happened if a rage thermometer had been in use. I’ll leave the details to the Legislature, which, like all great ideas, almost guarantees that it will never happen.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.