Well It hasn’t happened in quite sometime, but yesterday morning ‘road rage’ reared its ugly head on the 210 freeway. And this time around it wasn’t me who was enraged, but someone driving a dark grey Chevy Malibu who lost their cool, and boy did they lose it!
Getting on to the 210 Frwy westbound at San Dimas Ave isn’t always easy. What you have is a two lane on-ramp that narrows down to one lane. On weekday mornings there is a signal light at the top of the ramp that allows only one car per green, per lane to enter the freeway. Then instead of blending into the slow lane of the 210 like most on-ramps, the on-ramp becomes an actual lane. If you stay in it you exit onto the 57 Frwy South. The slow lane or #4 lane of the 210 also becomes an exit onto the 57, so if you want to get on the 210 West, you must first merge into the #4 lane and then quickly merge into the # 3 lane. If you don’t, you’re forced onto the 57. There have been a few occasions when I haven’t been able to move across lanes and been forced onto the 57 resulting in a little rage of my own. I’m really surprised there aren’t more accidents there.
Yesterday morning I was able to move into the #4 lane without any problem, but getting into the #3 lane was a bear! There was a convoy of large trucks who were closely following one another leave no room to move over. I thought for sure I was going to get stuck getting onto the 57 but finally the last of the trucks passed and there was just enough room between the last truck and an mid-size vehicle to squeeze in. Needless to say the guy driving the car that I pulled in front of, was not too happy. He gave his horn a couple of long blasts and although he was already close to me, he pulled up even closer.
Yeah I’d have to say the guy was pissed! His hands clutched the top of the steering wheel and he was leaning forward sneering at me! Then suddenly he pulled into the left lane and pulled up along side me. I didn’t bother to look over. He then tapped his horn a couple of times. I was going to continue ignoring him, but this little voice inside my head kept telling me to play with him a bit so I turned my head and looked at him. He immediately shot me the finger and his face contorted in rage as he screamed what I can only assume were obscenities. I simply stared at him. I have to say I was more than a little surprised to see that this raging maniac was wearing a very nice suit and tie, it seemed so out of character. Without reacting I looked away. The guy was livid and laid on the horn again. I could have understood if I had cut him off or forced him to brake when I cut in, but I hadn’t! And it hadn’t been a last minute or surprise move, hell I had my directional on since just after leaving the light at the top of the ramp. No this guy was just insane!
A moment or two later I turned towards him again. He immediately made a jerky motion with the steering wheel as if he were going to swerve into me. I’m sure he was expecting a major reaction on my part, but hell, I’ve used the very same move myself when I’ve been in a rage. I did notice however that his passenger window was now down and he was gesturing for me to put my window down which I did. With all the wind and traffic noise I could barely hear him and didn’t understand a thing he was saying. He went on screaming just the same. I finally just shook my head from side to side, smiled and closed my window. I’d had enough.
Well that seemed to piss him off even more! He quickly grabbed what looked like a 7-11 coffee cup from the cup holder on the dash and flung it out the window, but at the speed we were traveling it never reached my vehicle and simple shot back against the rear window and sprayed the side of his car. I’m sure that didn’t help matters any. I looked over again trying to hold in the smirk on my face, but he must have seen it. He gave me the finger, said something that if I were a lip reader, I would probably say was ‘vacuum,’ slowed a bit and pulled behind me again.
Every time I looked in the mirror he seemed to be flipping me off. I recognized the menacing grin he wore, I’d wore it often. He was going to play with me awhile until his anger subsided. Well the first chance I got I changed lanes, but like my shadow he was right behind me. I managed to pass the six truck convoy that had blocked me before and when it was safe I pulled into the lane in front of them. My stalker squeezed in behind me causing the semi to brake slightly. He immediately blasted my stalker with his air horn but he didn’t care, he was on a mission.
About a mile from the Grand Ave exit traffic suddenly slowed to a crawl. My buddy was still right on my ass. I glanced in the rear-view expecting the finger and he surprised me. We were moving so slowly that he was able to give me the finger with both hands this time. Still I kept my cool, knowing that a reaction was exactly what he wanted. I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction, still I didn’t want him to think I was afraid either, so when I we had slowed down to a near stop I turned around, smiled and shot him the peace sign.
A quarter mile or so from Grand Ave I had the opportunity to move over to the slow lane and did. He tried but couldn’t squeeze in behind me. So there we were side by side. He was still steaming. He wasn’t screaming but his mouth was moving a mile a minute and he was still flipping me the bird. As we inched our way nearer to the Grand Ave off-ramp I turned on my signal preparing to get off. I knew he couldn’t see my signal and being the smart ass that I am, I thought about opening my window, sticking out my arm and actually giving a hand signal for a right turn just to piss him off some more, but didn’t. Instead I opened my window and his too immediately came down. A barrage of words and insults befitting a truck driver spewed from his mouth. The cars were practically standing still, so I could easily make out every word. I waited patiently while he raged on then said to him, “I’m getting off here at Grand, just wanted you to know, it’s been fun! Have a nice day!” I don’t know if he even heard me but I didn’t care.
With that I rolled up the window and hoped to make it to the off-ramp before he jumped out of his car and came after me. If that had happened I was sure I could pull on to the shoulder and get to the ramp, but it didn’t happen. In fact as I pulled off the ramp I looked over to find him staring at me. His mouth wasn’t moving but in one final act of rage he shot me the finger. I in turn smiled and gave him the peace sign as I drove off. I honestly wanted so badly to give him the finger and had planned to, but having been in his position before I knew he would see it as a cowardly act just as I would have. It was better this way. What do you know I’ve become more of a pacifist than a hawk.
That wasn’t the first time I’ve exchanged words with a road rager and probably wont be the last, but usually we’re both raging! This time I didn’t allow myself to get sucked into the game. No that’s not entirely true, I didn’t allow myself to get caught up in the rage game, instead I was playing a game of my own, the “Calm is Power Game,” and I think I won… this time…