Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dear Ms. Duumaas,

Hi. You probably don’t remember me, but I was in the small hatchback car you were tailgating so relentlessly the other day. You look confused…. Let me refresh your memory.

We were traveling up ______ Road towards the North Shore. I first noticed YOU when the road was four lanes wide and you were dead on my ass. I couldn’t help but notice because the shadow of your big ass SUV loomed in my rear view mirror and blocked my view of anything else. I have to say I was confused as to your purpose. I was a decent and safe distance from the car in front of me and that car to the next car and so on and so forth. There really was no way I could increase my speed nor could anyone else. After all, it WAS 4:45 PM and many people were traveling home after work. I, on the other hand, had decided to throw a curveball into the normal weekday after work rituals and had my teenage son, our border collie, and a surfboard traveling with me. I was seeking joy in the form of a splurge trip to the North Shore. You, it appeared, were trying to fuck with my resolve to seek weekend joy on a mere weekday.

So be it.

When you decided to use the two long blocks that pass the Wal-Mart complex, where there are two lanes traveling north, to attempt to pass me, I have to admit, you were able to get under my skin and touch a nerve. As I watched through my rear view mirror your zig into the lane on your right and your barreling up behind the poor old man in the sedan traveling alongside me, I felt the tension increase in my entire body. An eyebrow rose. When riding on the old guy’s ass did not accomplish your purpose you zagged back behind me. Then you repeated the zig and zag maneuvers, twice I believe. Each time you pulled up even closer on mine and grandpa’s rear. Your SUV looked like some modern day transformer version of Ms Packman, trying to gobble us up, spit us out, and move on to the next two victims in this stream of cars.

For a moment, I have to admit I forgot about joy, about nature, about twisting routines. I can’t really say I forgot about living in the moment. I was feeling pretty alive when I shouted at my rear view mirror, “What the FUCK??!! Are you fucking nearsighted? Where do you expect us to go YOU. DUMB. ASS. BITCH!”

My son slightly twisted his head in my direction and raised an eyebrow himself. Border Collie, a sensitive creature, took on a look of panic.

As we approached the intersection you were back behind grandpa, who I might add was so focused on the road in front of him that he was spared the awareness you were about to flatten him. Since the lane you were in was a right turn only lane to a housing development, I was so hoping that you lived there and the crimp you had put in my shoulders would be relaxing soon.

Yeah. That would have been nice. But no.

At the very last second you cut back in behind me. I was kind of hoping the guy you cut off would give you some of your own medicine. From what I could see in my rear view mirror, he had the equipment. He had a very shiny, very detailed, spanking white Ford F-250. But that is pretty insane of me to hope for because a) in any unforeseen event up the road you would both roll over my little North Shore entourage; and b) it is a mean and negative thought, which I am trying not to have because it isn’t good for my health and it isn’t the person I want to be.

Still, when I realized that the next ten miles of two way country back road was going to be a nonstop tailgating extravaganza, I shouted at my rear view mirror again.

SON OF A FUCKING BITCH.

By the way, Ms Duumaas, did you know that border collies are quite intelligent? Mine KNOWS that the word fuck is used mostly when I or my husband is not happy. It upsets BC when we are not happy. So at this point, BC comes flying up between my son and me with his forelegs on the center compartment and he starts licking my ear to make me all better. As I struggle to get my ear out of licking range, I become a less aware driver.

My son, who has been in a surfer dude cruz state looking out his window, suddenly comes to life. He, like everyone in our house, adores BC. He pulls BC off my ear and as he’s trying to get him in the back seat, son sees YOU. And I know you can’t see us because our windows are tinted, but son was giving you stink eye.

“MOM! That crazy lady behind us is going to hit us and BC is going to fly through the windshield. Is she nuts??? What is WRONG with her??? DO SOMETHING!”

So I slowly back off on the gas and slow my car. Yeah. The passive aggressive approach to being tailgated. At first you only sniff my ass more. But you finally figure it out. And although you still were too close for comfort, you do back off a bit.

For the next few miles I keep an eye on you. My eyes dart between the road in front of me and my rear view mirror. And I notice something quite unnerving. Since you have been curtailed from driving all fucking gangbusters, you have decided to have a smoke break. Your left arm is hanging out your window with a cigarette, which you take a drag off of, um, like every five to ten seconds. And your right hand. Yeah. It’s holding a cell phone. You’re gabbing away. No blue tooth. No ear piece. You are holding that cell phone right up to your ear. So one has to wonder. If your left hand is hanging out the window with a lit cigarette and your right hand is holding a phone up to your ear, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU USING TO STEER??

The actual perverse thought that ran through my head was that you were some kind of weird freakzoid hermaphrodite. That you had some talented appendage hanging between your legs and you were using that to steer your vehicle. Six o’clock position. I guess it is even scarier that you are not that hermaphrodite. That you either were barreling along at fifty miles per hour behind me hands free of said steering wheel, or else merely using the inside of one of your forearms to barely have control of your tank.

As we approached the next development you got in the left turn lane. Thank-you Jesus.

AND you were going to pull up next to me.

AND you were riding with your windows down.

I rolled my window down. My son was all like, “Mom, let it go, don’t say anything.”

I’m not sure what I would have said, but what I saw rendered me speechless.

You pulled up a little ahead of me so instead of being parallel to you; I was looking into your back seat. There, in center position, was a car seat and in that car seat was an adorable, precious little boy. I’d say about 18 months old.

I should have been even more upset with you, but it actually took the steam out of my sails. Your son is so cute. And so innocent. How could I throw my rage at that little guy?

You didn’t seem to notice me. You were getting off the phone. You looked pretty pissed off. Maybe you were fighting with your husband. Maybe you’re in the middle of a really bad time. Maybe you’re always mad. I don’t know.

I snapped back though. I was actually able to get back to the person I am trying to be.

Nonjudgmental. Joyful. Grateful.

And when I got to the North Shore and was immersed in my sunset and I was back to my moment of joy, I tried to send it to you. Because I think maybe you needed it even more than me that day. Maybe a lot of days. I hope things get better for you.

26 comments:

only a movie said...

Always a good idea to send some positive energy toward some one who might be experiencing a bit of road rage... nice story. I like the range of emotions.

thistle said...

OMG..we are existing in some kind of parallel looking glass universe thingy...i have been involved in this exact same scenario so many times...involving the same colorful language...in fact, identical right down to the little one in the carseat behind the psycho at the wheel...wowzer!!

and for the record, my dogs know exactly what the F-bomb means...ie 'take cover'...only the Beautiful One is brave enough to hang out with me once i start throwing that one around...dogs...so much smarter than people...

Liz said...

I am humbled by the ending to your story - I very rarely can muster that much compassion and empathy for the D.A.B.s I encounter in my own life!

But aside from the ending, I have been in EXACTLY the same situation more times than I can count, and I am also a fan of slowing to a crawl to send a message to the D.A.B tailgater of the moment.

Kathy said...

Positive energy is goooooooooooood. Negative energy baaaaaaaaad.

Tailgating bad. I would have, and actually have done the same thing. When I'm alone, I've been known to slam on my brakes when they get too close.

Hopefully her bad day got better.

Kristan said...

WOW. You took that ending in a completely different direction than I expected, and you are a far, FAR better person than I am.

It's interesting, b/c I only drive "poorly" (i.e. too slow) when I have a reason, i.e., my dog is shaking in the backseat and we're on our way to the vet; or my dad is having pains in his side and we're on our way to the hospital and every bump makes him plead with me to be more careful; etc. So I always think, Maybe people have a reason, and I try to remember that.

But somehow, I can't. And I yell at people who smoke and talk on the cell phone at the same time. If it's really really bad, I honk. Because it's DANGEROUS to drive like sh*t. And I really can't stand people who endanger others. Somehow "need a cig" is not a good enough reason to me. At the very least, do ONE at a time.

On the other hand, I never honk slow old people. I might grumble about them to myself, but I never honk. I don't want to scare them.

So I sort of follow my own rule, and I sort of don't?

I dunno. But anyway, good story!

Kristan said...

Oh, and the licking to make you feel better? Riley totally does that too! Only not in the car, because he still isn't used to controlling his body/momentum in a moving vehicle yet.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I have been able to let things go a lot easier as I get older, and especially since I was sick. I'm now a big fan of not holding grudges, and not fretting over times where I ere.

One of my closest friends and I used to work together, a long time ago. There was this guy there who SOOOOO used to irritate me. He'd suck up to management, lie, and then turn around a be such a slacker. I wanted to do... SOMETHING. My friend said, "let it go. When the shit hits the fan you don't want to be downwind from him. Besides, we go home to our lives and he has to live with himself 24/7."

thistle said...

Amen to that...have to learn to pick your battles...altho some days it's harder to step away than others...tales like this will make me think a bit more before dropping the f-bomb

and because i realize now i forgot to say it the first time i dropped by...great post!!

Vodka Mom said...

that is SO true. We never, never know what demons or battles someone else is fighting.

i'm kind of glad you didn't kick his ass. you're the bigger car, uh, I mean person.

Dave said...

Wow is all I can say.
You took us as you did, through an amazing paradigm shift.
Quite a story.
Quite an ending.
Thanks

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I thought about sticking with funny and leaving the story hanging at the intersection. I had assumed my reaction would come off like a fizzle and a drizzle. But once I wrote it, I realized the ending was probably more important than the funny.

Rhea said...

Wow, I think I just lived through that with you, every step of the way. sheesh. Unbelievable!

Mental P Mama said...

Wow. Ms. Duumass is probably a transplant from Fairfield County, CT. And, you, my dear, are very impressive with your high road. I don't know if I could have done that.

smiles4u said...

I liked this post because I think we have all experienced drivers like this and we really do have a choice in how we are going to respond. I love how you ended it...great choice so that the rest of your day wasn't affected. And you are so right, she most likely needed it!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

When I realize I can let go of anger, after that it's easier.

sherri said...

fantastic post.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Thank-you Sherri.

Twenty Four At Heart said...

I just love it when people drive with no hands. Or text while they drive. I am so paranoid since my accident, I would have been freaking out if I were you.

starrlife said...

I'm going to submit this to Schmutzie's Five Star Friday for next week. Too hilarious!

Cristin said...

Perfection. I told off a driver once in a white car. Ever since then, when Graham sees a white car he asks me if white cars are bad... I have to curb my road rage for sure....

Day Dreamer said...

This was a great post!!

I like that you were sending her some good moments. She probably did need it.

junkbox fiction said...

thoroughly enjoyed it. thanks!

Carole said...

Loved the post! I am a recovered Road Rage Diva. You did a great job!

Ashley said...

Hahaha! I love the passive aggressive approach to tailgaters. That's my angle. :)

Stopping by from SITS!

Dari said...

This is a fabulous rendition of a day in shitty traffic!!! I have been there so many times! I am the brake check queen when people piss me off. ha ha Now that I have a baby with me though, I have stopped doing that, JIC. I can't believe she was so wreckless with an infant in the car! Great story and I am glad you still got to enjoy your day :)

Great post SITSta!

Heather A@desertnightcreations.com said...

Really, Really great post. One of the best I've read so far!