Rage against the rude

David Sneed //June 4, 2012//

Rage against the rude

David Sneed //June 4, 2012//

I had to go to the DMV for a renewal.  As I wobbled in a tiny plastic chair contemplating Dante’s description of Hell, I overheard a father and daughter nearby.  He was gracing her with last-minute advice before she began her driving career.

“When you get on the highway, move to the left lane. Cars won’t be getting on or off, and you only have to pay attention to the guy in front of you. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing; just watch the guy in front and you’ll be fine.”

Hearing this both put my mind at ease, and made me wonder. That is to say I was confused and horrified that these instructions were being given to anyone, much less a Justin Beiber fan fixing to pilot a cruise missile on the Interstate.

The part that made me feel better was that now I understood. I understood that the doofus doing 55 in the left lane while texting isn’t out to ruin my day – they just don’t know any better.

I’m scared, on the other hand, because her dad is an idiot.  Driving is about so much more than what the car in front of you is doing, and she’ll never know that. Her father taught her what his father probably taught him: driving is all about you.

A few weeks ago I heard the topic of road rage discussed on a radio show. The DJ was making the easy argument that we only act like aggressive lunatics when we’re in a car.
I disagree; and so does anyone who’s ever tried to get around the four-abreast family at the mall. The problem is one of courtesy – the understanding that other people also live here.

Try to tell me that you’ve never walked 200 yards in a straight line down an airport concourse to have someone come out from a shop, walk a few feet in your direction, and just stop directly in your path. This isn’t just a road issue. I suffer sidewalk rage, too.

Let me return to the common defenses to discourtesy in a car.  You have every right to drive 54 in the left lane, but let me make two points:

1) The sign says “Slower cars keep right,” not “Cars going less than the speed limit keep right” for a reason.

2) You have every right not to say hello or accept a handshake, and you are within your rights to chew with your mouth open.  But you don’t, and the reason is the courtesy slapped into you by your mother at Thanksgiving dinner.

We don’t teach driving etiquette, and that’s a shame. Here’s what I told my kids: If you cause someone to use their brakes when they otherwise wouldn’t – you’re doing something wrong. I taught them the Golden Rule applies to driving just like it applies everywhere else in life.

I’m not the best driver technically speaking – I can barely stay in my lane – but I do know what other people around me are doing (or about to do) and I make allowances for them. I believe that Social Awareness should be taught beginning in 2nd grade, and to get a driver’s license you should have to prove you possess it.