Last year I made a New Year’s resolution not to make any New Year’s resolutions because I always immediately break them. Of course I didn’t remember making this resolution until I was in the car one day sitting in holiday traffic and getting really steamed about all the rude people on the road. After someone cut me off and my daughter yelled out, “Watch where your goin’, you ding-dong,” I realized that I might not be setting the best example for my children. I decided then that I was going to break my last New Year’s resolution and resolve to work on my road rage.
When I lived in New York City, I didn’t really have a problem with road rage. This was most likely due to the fact that I didn’t have a car. Once we moved to the suburbs, though, we got a car and I actually had to do quite a bit of driving. I soon learned that the suburbs are filled with bad drivers. And most of them, it seemed, were always right in front of me. Or behind me. Or cutting me off. Or stealing my parking space. My usual calm response to this was a few choice words, some fist-shaking, and an occasional, full-blown hissy fit.
Realizing that I could benefit from a little bit less hostility, I decided to work on being a kinder, gentler driver. For a while, I was much better. When people cut me off, I would just smile and wave them on. If someone tailgated me, I would pull over and let them pass. When somebody else swooped in and stole the mall parking spot I’d been waiting for and there weren’t any other spots within a mile of the mall entrance, I just let her have it (the spot… I let her have the spot!).
Then one day I found myself behind a car that was going so slowly, it might as well have been going backwards. I immediately took note of the fact that the car was a big, old, cream-colored Lincoln sedan with Florida plates and, it seemed, quite mysteriously, to be driving itself. Well, that’s not exactly true. I could see a pair of hands on the steering wheel, but there was no head. It was a headless, Floridian driver doing 10 miles an hour in a 35 mile-an-hour zone on a one-lane road and I was stuck behind it, losing my mind.
If ever there was a recipe for road rage, here it was. Of course, I was very late for an appointment, to boot, so what little patience I had wore thin after five miles of this. I thought, all we needed was a couple of floats, a marching band, and some Snoopy balloons and we could have our own suburban parade.
For five miles I tailgated the headless driver, getting more and more frustrated, and mentally willing him/her/it to pull over, or turn, or be beamed up to an alien space ship and flown away. Finally, we got to a major intersection, and the Lincoln pulled over to make a turn. I pulled up next to it and looked over. There, behind the wheel, was a very old lady, about 110 years old. I immediately felt awful for tailgating her and belatedly recalled my New Years resolution. I gave her a weak smile and a little, apologetic wave of my hand.
She looked over at me, raised her hand in return…
And gave me the finger.
©2008, T. Beckerman. All rights reserved. For more Lost in Suburbia, visit Tracy Beckerman at www.lostinsuburbia.net, and check out her hilarious new book “Rebel without a Minivan” at Amazon and www.rebelwithoutaminivan.com