By Nanci Dixon
Yesterday I had an experience that unnerved me. I had thought I was seeing light at the end of the long COVID tunnel. The elections are over, there is a real possibility of going back to work and the children back to school… I thought all that would lighten the tensions. Evidently not.
The exit from the interstate was abysmally slow. There was at least a two-mile line of cars. It was going to take me 30 minutes just to get to the stoplight. Once I finally got close enough, I immediately saw the problem. Cars were packing the cross-street and there was nowhere to cross over for a left-hand turn. The waiting cars would need to nudge out and stop traffic to get through. This is in Phoenix, where drivers are not the most accommodating to people nudging in.
As the turn signal changed – once, twice, soon ten or more cycles – cars began to honk. I tapped my horn lightly to encourage the car in front of me to at least try to get out.
I became aware that nothing was going to change, and I was still going to be watching the left turn arrow come and go. Knowing that approaching a car could well end up poorly, I waited until I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I got out of my car and knocked on the driver’s window, as politely as I could. The young woman lowered her window slightly. I realized she was scared and didn’t know what to do. I told her that I was just going to get right back on the interstate in the opposite direction so I wouldn’t have to try and cross over. She could do this too. She was thankful for a solution she hadn’t seen. Problem solved.
As I was returning to my car an older man stormed down the side of the road, obviously in a fit of rage. I told him as he passed me that she was just scared and at the next light we would all be moving again.
He just could not let it go
As he raced to her window, he blasted her with every swear word I have ever heard and a couple more. He performed an angry tirade that easily could have escalated into a road rage death. It was a tantrum versed for something else and as he ranted I could feel it was more than being stuck in a traffic jam on a Saturday morning.
It was a culmination of the last year, perhaps of many years, and I was reminded of the increase in road rage incidents, domestic violence calls and deaths this past year.
I was ashamed for him, for someone in my rather advanced age bracket, acting that way toward a young driver – afraid, confused, and uncertain. I was also ashamed of the literally hundreds of cars backed up that no one reached out to help. And in the end, I was ashamed that while I could honk lightly in anonymity, it took me so long to put my own fears aside to help. Lesson learned.
And still, I ask myself: Why is everyone so angry?