I was driving to our brand new corporate office the other day when I had a one-sided conversation with another driver. I had been to the new office only once before and was not yet comfortable with the route and exits or the exact location of our building. Most drivers who drive in unfamiliar areas tend to look at the “big picture” of where they’re going, and they tend to forget little things like signs. As I drove down the circular exit I saw that I was about to merge onto a road that was two lanes wide, which eventually narrowed to one lane. A red car was speeding along as I approached the merge. To my surprise, the driver momentarily slammed on his brakes. I did the same, thinking there was something in the road. He sped up again and so did I. He then slammed on his brakes again and came to a complete stop right in the middle of the roadway. Knowing how dangerous this can be, I sped up to his car and rolled my window down, thinking that he was having some kind of emergency and needed assistance. The window was already rolled down, and I saw a little girl in the front passenger seat sitting next to the driver, who had a look of incredible consternation on his face. This is a job for CRISIS MAN! . . . or so I thought. The driver practically crushed the girl as he leaned over her to shout at me, “Can't you read the #%*&@=& yield sign?!!”
Now back in the day (before CPI, which will hereafter be referred to as BCPI), I would have responded in kind, but now the only thing I could think was, “Man, I didn't even see that yield sign.” Two things kept me from yelling back. One was the little girl in the front seat, who I could only imagine was the driver’s daughter. She looked to be around six or seven. The other was that I just didn't feel like it. I was actually a little amazed that I felt so calm and that I had no reply at all. I was thankful that I was able to rationally detach. The man gunned his accelerator and sped off. I continued on my way and was at the office in a few moments.
Violence begets violence, or so we are told. But the man’s violent temper only made me feel sorry for him, and sorrier for his daughter. What happens, I thought, when she accidentally breaks something in the house or spills her milk? Does he yell and scream at her or worse? I was a little peeved, but not at the driver. I was upset with myself for not having seen the yield sign. I convinced myself that it either didn't exist or that it was posted in a place that was not readily visible to drivers coming from my direction. So I took the same exit when I went to the office a couple days later, and sure enough there it was. Not one, but two yield signs. I had been so busy looking for our new building that I hadn't noticed the sign.
Was that man right to be upset? Of course he was! In his position, I would have been upset too—especially if my daughter was in the car. Does the man need to rethink his response to situations like these? You bet! Stopping your car in the middle of a highway for the sole purpose of yelling at another driver is not only dangerous, it's downright stupid. It could even be considered child abuse if you have kids with you when you do it.
Driving is stressful enough without displaying your anger toward every motorist who makes a mistake. Bad driving, intentional or not, simply needs to be forgiven, if for no other reason than that forgiving mistakes makes everyone safer.
So, if that driver is reading this blog, I'd like to say that I sincerely apologize. I didn't mean to get so close and cause you to brake so quickly. But please do us all a favor and forgive and forget. If not for me, then do it for your daughter.
You don't have to swerve wildly to get these helpful hints about behavior management.