Ok, this is only tangentially related to travel, but I want to reflect upon a road rage incident in Los Angeles that occurred over the weekend.
Road Rage In Los Angeles
Sunday afternoon I was driving through a two-lane canyon in Los Angeles. There’s a point in the road in which a speed sensor triggers a traffic light if you are driving more than 45 miles per hour. All the “locals” are aware of this and will slow down accordingly as we approach the point.
But when I slowed down, a guy in an oversized white van who had been tailgating me all the way down the canyon, barreled around me in the narrow bike lane. Coming within inches of my car, I honked at him, holding down my horn for three seconds. He had triggered the traffic signal but went right through the red light. He pulled into the intersection ahead and parked diagonally so as to block the road.
As I sat at the opposite end of the intersection, he stepped out of his van, still blocking my right of way. It was a portly man. He was screaming, though I had my windows up and could not make out what he was saying. He was also signaling for me to get out of the car. Quite honestly, I was expecting him to pull a gun.
Did I mention my two children, one 11 months and the other four years old, were in the backseat?
When the light turned green, I had a choice to make. There were now cars behind me and cars traveling in the opposite direction. I truly was blocked.
I proceeded toward him, straddling the double yellow line and narrowly weaving around the car traveling the opposite direction. He stepped aside just in time…I was prepared to hit him if necessary to protect my children. Thankfully, he did not jump out in front of the car or grab onto it.
I continued traveling down the canyon, which ends in an industrial neighborhood of Los Angeles. As I was traveling down the road, I noticed the white van in my rearview mirror. He was flooring it, with lights flashing at me. He was quickly gaining ground. The road was mostly empty.
I tapped the car and surged ahead…his van was no match for my car. But then we hit a red light…and I was not going to go through it. As he approached, the light turned green and I surged ahead again and onto a freeway onramp. He followed me, but I quickly lost him.
And that was that…
But I cannot tell you how scary that was. It would have been scary had I been alone, but it was incredibly scary when I had my two kids in the backseat. I was prepared to run him over if he did not move aside or tried to open the car doors. Thankfully, that was not necessary.
And all of this made me think of life. We don’t know when it will be our time to go. Some have died from COVID-19, others die of cancer. I could have died, along with my kids, for honking my horn at a dangerous driver. It happens, especially in the United States.
Will I still use my horn? Yes. Will I still use two-lane roads? Yes. But my goodness, it was a reminder of how anger can master us if we do not master it. That’s a timely lesson for all of us.