BY MARY MALLOY
We have all read about the terrible occurrences involving "road rage" - the stabbings, shootings, the horrific intentional forcing-off-the-road accidents, and at the least, the threats and accusations shouted from vehicle to vehicle - the "King of the Road" syndrome, or the "I will not allow this on my piece of the parkway" citizenry.
And sometimes with deadly results.
But what I encounter every day, in my short, one-mile drive to drop the kids off at school and then onto my local workplace, has me shaking my head and saying, "What is with people nowadays?" They are so rude..."road rude"!
It's but a crucial one step behind road rage, but nevertheless, I get angry myself when I encounter these people. It's the nastiness, thoughtlessness and downright not-so-nice actions of other drivers in my own neighborhood - not on a four-lane expressway, not in some tough neighborhood, but right here on Long Island. And it is at its worst during the rush hour times - going to, and coming home from work.
You know what I mean: you do the right thing and flick your turning signal on to change lanes. All this means to the road-ruder in the desired lane is a signal to creep up as close as they can to the car in front of them to make sure you don't get into their lane. How rude! This one gets to me - they are not just ignoring you - they are intentionally letting you know that you will not, under and circumstances, get in front of their car. Hmmphh! There must be some primitive defense mechanism at work here - a territorial thing, seated deep in our caveman cortex that says, "do not let this intruder into my space - danger, danger, danger!" Or, they are just late for work and allowing you to get ahead of them will totally destroy their on-time record.
Another rude and dangerous maneuver is when the driver tries to beat you at the light as they turn left in front of you - clearly an illegal move, but oh so common. I can spot them now - first, you see their left turn signal (see, they think giving you this clear warning allows them freedom to turn at any time, even in front of your going-straight car) They are sitting up in their seats, and their arms are crooked to turn that wheel as soon as the light turns green. Their eyes are darting from the light, to their destination, to your car, (sometimes locking squinting eyes with yours) and back again. Now, what do you do? You know their gonna try it, so if you go straight anyway you can be in the right but still be injured. I usually proceed lightly, lean on my horn, and yes - gesture wildly. All kidding aside, there is an elderly gentleman on my corner who does this move every single morning, as he drives his grandchildren to school. Someday, I am afraid someone will not see what he intends to do, and those kids will be statistics. That's just "road stupid."
Remember Robert Fulghum's book, "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten"? Sharing. Taking turns. Being polite. Some people never read that, or went to kindergarten either, apparently. What ever happened to taking turns? Especially at four-way stop signs. One pet peeve of mine is when there is a quad stop and drivers try to sneak (or roll, or slip through) behind the car in front of them. Hello!!?? Do you think we cannot see you? You are driving more than a ton of metal and steel. Wait your turn. It's my turn!
Another opportunist driver is the one who takes advantage of a racing ambulance by using its wake as a chance to speed behind it, as if they were part of the entourage racing to the hospital. This happened to me recently, when I heard the ambulance a few cars behind me. As I pulled over, as did the two cars behind me, the third car pulled out behind the emegency vehilce and waved us all goodbye, suckers that we were.
Do we need to go back to our old driver's manuals? I have seen people just freeze, come to a complete stop, when they hear an ambulance approaching. Figure it out! Pull over, get out of the way, do something to help the situation! And don't use it as an excuse to get an escort to the next intersection.
At the crossroads of Sunrise Highway and Ocean Avenue in Lynbrook, they changed right lane to a "turning lane only," leaving the center lane for going straight, south over the highway. Now, giving people the benefit of the doubt and few months time, EVERY TIME I am at that intersection, cars who should be turning right race across the highway when the light turns green to illegally cut into the "straight lane." I know this is going to happen, and I find myself fighting for my own lane (yes, I am territorial too!) but if I continue on, I would be right - and possibly injured. And I get angry. And I am ashamed of myself for getting that angry.
Hey, everyone, let's not let our rush to get someplace while putting our lives and those of our families and neighbors in jeopardy. Take turns, share the road, and be kind. I promise I will wave you in the next time you want to (legally) get into my lane.
Mary Malloy is a published writer, having written humorous, ongoing columns in local newspapers including The East Rockaway Observer,The Five Towns Forum, Nassau Tribune, Nassau Community Newspaper Group, & Long Island Woman periodical. She recently married her childhood sweetheart and is the mother of five children, ages 12 to 30 --and the grandmother of a lively toddler name Thomas. She experiences every day life by coping, juggling and living on (and loving) Long Island, New York and sharing the humor and the ironies of life with others.