Thursday, 28 May 2015

Road Rage; Why Grampas Should Be Off-Roaded

This morning (exactly an hour ago as I begin writing this) I was a victim of road rage on my way to work. I'm still shaking as I write this post.

I was travelling up a busy road on my way to the office. This road has two lanes because it splits in two; the left lane is for traffic towards the business park and the right lane is for traffic towards a residential area. The problem is that the traffic in the right hand lane moves much more quickly because there are about three times as many people who want to head towards the business park for work. This means that some people cruise freely up the right hand lane and then try to bully their way into the left lane when it reaches the point where it splits. This causes me unimaginable anger because it makes my drive about 15 minutes longer each morning just so that some douchebag with 'somewhere to be' can get ahead.

I was a victim of the aforementioned douchebaggery this morning when a man aggressively cut in front of me into the left lane. He didn't have enough room to enter the lane safely, he didn't indicate and he certainly didn't care about the fact I had to slam my breaks on to avoid a collision. I beeped my horn before he had even got into my lane to alert him to the fact that there was a big black 4x4 in the exact location he was sliding his second hand, £3 grand man-mobile into. He didn't care.

In fact, he took the time to swear at me in his rear view mirror and laugh. Then he stopped his vehicle; handbrake up. The traffic in front of him progressed and the people inside their cars continued to live their lives. This moron however had decided that I was going to pay for having the audacity to beep at him; he was going to sit in the lane and block the traffic. I graciously took time out of my day to ensure that I returned his offer in the form of a middle finger.

Cars behind me beeped, this Warrior of the Road just stared at me. He gave this game up after about 30 seconds (which felt like about 3 hours) and moved forwards. I decided at this point that I was calling the police.

I didn't take the decision to call the police lightly, but my brief analysis of the whole ridiculous situation left me seriously wondering if he was perhaps still drunk from the night before. He seemed to be hypo-aggressive and he also wasn't bothered about any of the drivers around him. I hit dial and began to explain the situation I was in to the call handler for Thames Valley Police. This is where sh*t got real.

The driver got fully out of his car. He stood in the road with his phone in his hand, I think he was trying to take pictures or videos of my car, or of me (maybe I'm going to be YouTube famous now). I started to panic and the emergency call handler quickly took down his registration number from me and asked me to lock my doors. The man was shouting and screaming at me and gesticulating amongst the clever obscenities he was throwing out. I have absolutely zero clue what he was saying (as I was on the phone to the police), it's probably a good thing that I couldn't hear him as I doubt he was screaming about the beautiful weather.

I am ashamed to say that the man that got out of this car looked exactly as I expected him to. I could have drawn him. He was around 55 years old, white, and practically lopsided from the sizeable chip on his shoulder. He was wearing a black leather jacket and some borderline fashionable sunglasses. He was bald and carrying a Samsung smartphone (don't judge him, it was probably on a good deal down Carphone Warehouse).

The man started towards my car and then retreated back to his own. It's likely that he was fully aware that I was on the phone to the police as you can usually hear the conversation from outside the vehicle. He promptly gave me the finger AGAIN and sped off in a way which would have been quite Fast and Furious if he didn't have to stop 20 yards down the road because of the traffic in front of him. The emergency call handler asked me if I could turn around or get out of his radius somehow but I couldn't turn off the road, I had nowhere to go. I gave him a very wide birth and followed cautiously until we reached a roundabout where he turned right and I turned left.

Then I cried. I cried all the way to the carpark at work where I knew there would be security guards and a security barrier that you could only bypass with an authorised pass-card. I parked up and cried some more whilst hiding from any potential colleagues that might wonder if I had perhaps just completely lost my mind; it was all very art nouveau, but the reality is that I was pretty shaken up. The police were amazing and stayed on the phone with me until I told them that I was safe. I'm hoping I get a call back as I've been reassured that there is a lot of CCTV on that junction and I will very happily go for dangerous driving or threatening behaviour charges.

However, all of this left me wondering; who the hell are these people? I can't count on one hand the number of my friends who have jumped out of their car to verbally abuse someone after causing them to perform a dangerous emergency stop. That is because I don't HAVE any friends who have done that. I have never been in a situation where I've felt that it's appropriate for me to bully other road users into speeding up or slowing down in a dangerous way. I've definitely never been angry enough to confront another road user about their driving in a physical manner. Yes, there are arseh*les on the road but the reality is that there are arseh*les everywhere. I ignore them in the office, I ignore them in the supermarket, I ignore them in the pub. I might roll my eyes to make myself feel better but ultimately they go on to complete their mission to be the biggest arseh*le on the planet and I finish my wine in peace reassured by the fact that nobody could possible steal the "Biggest Arseh*le" crown from Katie Hopkins.

I truly believe that there is a generation of road users that have a sense of entitlement and they pair it with a bullish, dangerous air of superiority. It seems to be that men between 50 and 65 feel that they have absolutely earned the right to be on the road simply because they've spent the past 30 years driving to their disappointing but well paid job as Manager of DFS Slough, and that if they were suddenly tasked with beating Lewis Hamilton in a race to the death they would absolutely bazz all over him and even have enough time to drink a coffee (decaf of course, none of them can sleep at night) before he even appeared as a spec on the horizon.

I know what you're thinking: "Sian, that is a sweeping generalisation". Yes, it absolutely is. I'm sure that 25 year old girls have had road rage too, but they're not the ones in the Daily Mail punching cyclists off their bikes in London are they? They're not the ones being pulled over on Road Wars for shouting at the 16 year old at the car-wash for not waxing their car bonnet right to the edges are they? These men are the ones you see haggling at the car dealership to get £100 off their maroon Skoda Fabia because the petrol tank wasn't quite 100% full, like the naughty man said it would be, and they absolutely know their rights as a consumer because they've not a missed a Thursday night episode of Watchdog for 44 years.

Listen, you lot. You have NO RIGHT to direct your tiny-penis-fuelled anger at me. Yes, I'm probably listening to Taylor Swift with my windows down. Yes, I've likely got a skinny white Americano in the cup holder. We're an alien race to you, I get that, but if we have to live with your insufferable mid-life crisis you can at least lose the attitude and suffer the morning commute in silence with the rest of us. Maybe try some Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, you might just like it.
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