Living Columns & Blogs

Motoring around the Tri-Cities and beyond

You can’t convince me there is a single person out there who hasn’t been irritated by obnoxious drivers.

Nor can you convince me that all of us, at some time or another, hasn’t been viewed by someone else as that “annoying driver”.

Maybe some of us more often than others… never myself, of course!

A Canadian friend of mine recently blogged about an experience driving whereby a woman cut her off forcing her to slam on her breaks. She steamed about the ordeal and finally, when she was at a light next to the woman was surprised when the other driver rolled down her window and apologized admitting that it was her mistake and that she knew she had cut my friend off and that it was an accident, she didn’t know where her head was. My friend was completely taken aback as she accepted the woman’s apology and they went on their separate ways. The situation completely diffused because the other driver stepped up to the plate and owned up to the fact that she had made an error in judgment.

I think the drivers in the Tri-Cities are pretty average. Most are friendly people just trying to get from point A to point B. I have lived at two extremes.

My early childhood in Wyoming reigns as the most friendly drivers ever — we used to tease my dad as he drove (below the speed limit) down a country road and he would flip his fingers up (the first three) at every passing car, to wave hi. And so did all the other drivers. Not because it was a small town and they knew each other (which was sometimes the case), but because it was the polite thing to do.

The opposite extreme was living in Reno, Nev., where speed limits meant next to nothing and driving appeared to be a contact sport.

In car and cyclist collisions (yes, there were many while we were there), the cyclist was most often ticketed as they were being hauled away in the ambulance and the talk the following week would be about how stupid people were to ride their bikes on the roads. I loved living in Reno, I really did, but driving around the city was not something I relished.

The other day, I wondered for a minute where I was. We were leaving from our Saturday morning swimming lessons. I had assigned my husband the task of putting our daughter in her car seat since she is at that stage where she pushes her hips in the air, twists and wails when faced with the sight of her car seat. My husband can more easily and quickly wrangle her into her seat while I help our son.

My husband was standing at the door struggling with our daughter, the front door of the car open as well when the car next to us starts to move. He waves signaling that he was standing there, surely the woman just overlooked him. (Something I have done.)

Instead she waves at him and continues to back out while her car actually starts pushing the front door of my car shut.

So now not only is she scratching her car, potentially damaging my door but is also endangering my husband and my daughter with a large vehicle not two feet away.

By this point my husband is getting ticked. He is yelling at her to stop!

She continues backing out, gets even with him, rolls down her window and yells, “I am in a hurry and I need you to move.”

No please, no apology. Just *I* and *I need*.

My husband replies that he is putting our daughter in her seat, hold on a minute.

Her reply was that she too had put a child in a car seat (motioning to her son in the back -- because apparently she has the right of way with being faster at getting him in the seat?) and insists once again that we “get out of the way.”

To her benefit, she did end with “get out of the way, please, thank you” all in one breath before rolling her window back up.

My husband and I were both blown away as she drove off. I reminded myself afterward that maybe there was a medical emergency and she was on her way to the ER — because that was the only situation I could think of whereby a person should get away with this level of rudeness.

My husband admitted that he was about to stoop to “construction yard talk.”

The incident stuck with me long after we had all driven off. Is this the behavior we want our children to witness?

Wouldn’t it have just been easier as she was going to her car to say, “I see you are putting a child in, I hate to bother you but I am in a real hurry. Would you mind if I pulled out first?”

Common courtesy is all.