Disclaimer: Kids, do not try this at home.

When he runs the red light at the T intersection, he doesn’t hesitate, doesn’t slow down to take the turn that puts him directly in my path on the straightaway, and I barely avoid rear-ending him, lay on the horn and then hit the brakes a second time when he brakes intentionally just to piss me off.  In that second, rage wells up in me like a match to a blowtorch.

The color of his car never registers even though I am on him like a pit bull, through two lights and into a used car lot not far from where I live, desperate to rip away large pieces of him and throw them to my pretend brood of lion cubs for a late-afternoon snack. This isn’t twenty years ago when I was in my prime, not even ten years ago. And though it’s been a decade or two since I was this irrational, this determined to kick someone’s ass, even at my age there is still room for completely inappropriate behavior, no matter how many bazillion times I have told one husband or the other, told all my kids, avoid road rage altercations no matter what; you never know what you might be up against — a loaded gun, a tripping wanna-be thug way bigger and badder than you. Still, I stayed on him, would have stayed on him longer if need be.

Maybe it was green, maybe it was dark green, maybe a sedan, I think it was a sedan, a traditional sedan, a Toyota maybe, though these details are mostly lost to me, or never really captured in the heat of the moment and I’m just making shit up — though it was more like ten or fifteen moments.

What I do recall was how he stopped just inside the dirt parking lot, how I pulled in behind him, flew out of my car, left the car running, the door open, and headed towards him like a steam roller, all five feet two inches of me. I was out of my car first and as he straightened, before I reached him, to six feet tall and some, then turned towards me, perhaps in disbelief, I could see he was half my age, lean, covered in tattoos, probably doing part-time work as a transport driver, and he simply stood there.

After all his bravado behind the wheel, his dare when he slammed on his brakes intentionally at the onset, he just stood there as the kicked-up dust settled around us, as I closed in as fast as my short legs could carry me. Was I suddenly a reminder of someone — his mother, a favorite aunt, a not-so- favorite aunt — or did he just think how ridiculous the whole thing seemed, too surreal? Perhaps he was stoned and it all happened too fast for him to keep pace. What was this little old lady really going to do when she got there, to where he was standing, waiting, watching — all this flashing in his brain, perhaps, in the seconds before I hit him, both hands to the chest, like the little engine that could: I CAN take him down, I CAN take him down, I CAN take him down. 

He fell back an inch, not much more, never lost his balance. I doubt I even hurt him, and he stood there, silent. Maybe he was laughing to himself, maybe he was watching it all play out like a movie on the big screen. I looked at him, he looked at me, and then the screaming began, my own, until he eventually turned and walked away. Maybe there was some part of him that held onto a lesson from his childhood: never hit a woman, especially an older woman. And maybe, just maybe, he won’t do that again and some other driver’s life will be spared by his restraint. Or maybe it will have no impact at all. Maybe he won’t even remember it. Still, despite my usual leeway on the road, my live-and- let live mantra, on that occasion, as irrational as it was, for a moment I felt vindicated — and that works for me.

Check out MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction)

“I do not see any beauty in self-restraint.” – Mary MacLane, Canadian Author

“You cannot control the results, only your actions.” – Allan Lokos, founder of the Community Meditation Center in New York as well as a popular mindfulness author.

Image: Public domain stock photo

1 comment

Mary Panke

It’s a fascinating snapshot of life intersecting: age (older/younger), gender (female/male), mental state (responsible/irresponsible), legality(moving violation/stopping in a lot), expression (voice/mute), emotion (regret/vindication), power (authentic/superficial). – Mary

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