A Cautionary Tale About Rear-View Mirrors.

And, to a lesser extent, rural roads, speed limits and internalizing road rage.

I live in a very rural area in northern Washington state. Travel on any of the “main highways” means you’re driving on a two-lane road. Consequently, for this former Southern-Californian, I’m excited by the fact that traffic is pretty much non-existant – but driven insane when stuck behind a slow driver.

I don’t mind slow, you understand, as long as it happens to be faster than me. When someone comes up behind me, they are obviously going too fast, and should go around me if they want to keep hot-dogging it like that.When I come up on them, however, they are obviously too slow. Dorks.

I was in my “Dorks” phase during a recent trip, as the car ahead of me was not only going slower than I would have liked, but was actually going a couple of miles under the speed limit. When I’m behind a Dork that is doing the speed limit, I am much more understanding. I’m not happy about it, but I am understanding.

The biggest fear in a rural area when behind someone who is not travelling as fast as you would like: that they are going “your way.” When you get close to that fork in the road where you want to go left, you hope they are going right. You don’t want them to go “your way,” increasing your torture. You want to be free of them, and wish them well as they go “their way,” solving your problem.

The woman in the car ahead of me was approaching my turn. With a simple left, I would be heading to the next town, and would no longer be this person’s unwilling travel companion, as she would hopefully continue straight. Blessings to her and her travels.

But it was not to be. As she approached my turn, she actually had the audacity to get into the turn lane. Darn it, she was going “my way.”

With this information landing square in my mind, I became a gorrila. I actualy gripped the wheel tightly with both hands, made a growling noise, and pulled and pushed myself against and away from the wheel a few times, like I was trying to escape my cage. That may seem like a bit much, but after all, I was in a cage of sorts, I was behind the Dork.

The woman stopped her vehichle appropriately in the turn lane, carefully looked both ways, as any safe driver would, and turned her vehicle on to my road.

Then she immediately pulled her vehicle to the side of the road, allowing me to turn and pass her.

Now, I am pulled from my self-absorption, and forced to ponder a few points before making the turn myself:

  • Was I tailgating? Probably.
  • Was I making rude faces behind her during our entire trip? Being the theatrical guy that I am, I would most likely have to place this one in the affirmative category.
  • Did she watch me do my Planet of the Apes transformation? Actually see me grow hair all over my body and thump my chest while baring my teeth in what I will now call one of the most embarrasing moments of my life behind the wheel that I will remember on my death-bed?

I really didn’t want to answer that one. I calmly made my turn. I calmly drove past her, and preceded to follow the speed limit until reaching my destination, no longer concerned about my road, but my actions.

Please remember that in driving, and in life, there are rear-view mirrors.

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