08 December 2005

Road rage as a participatory sport

I pulled out onto Erindale Road today, turning right (north) from Delawney Street behind another vehicle. Fully expecting them to proceed smoothly and knowing that there was plenty of shelter from the traffic islands to do this if they bailed, I followed them across two very temporarily empty lanes.

When they propped instead of proceeding, I widened my turn and parked behind their left rear quarter, not blocking the driver’s view of northbound traffic, and waited for them to pick a gap in said traffic and get on with it.

Instead of looking for a gap, the driver and her boyfriend ignored the traffic and started verbally abusing me — and I do mean abusing, too, starting with “WTF do you think you’re doing?” and working down from there to coarse and most uninformed discussions of my anatomy and habits.

So I picked my own gap and drove off past them. There was plenty of room for them to follow me, but they were much too busy with important things like hurling abuse and feeling self-righteous to actually pay any attention to the traffic. Another driver waiting on Delawney for the intersection to clear started abusing them for continuing to block it as I dwindled rapidly from view.

I saw no reports of Balcatta riots on the evening news, so I presume they were able to settle their remaining differences without bloodshed, but it does make me wonder just what sends someone so troppo, makes it so necessary for their own (wrong, IMESHO) PoV to be heard that they completely lose the plot while still in nominal control of a tonne or two of potentially lethal metal in the middle of four very busy lanes of traffic.

If abuse is going to be handed out, it might as well server a useful purpose, for which I much prefer my own techniques.

I employed one particular technique out of the window as a passenger many years ago to great effect while changing premises from Rockingham to Kardinya: the driver of another vehicle had begun to pull out of a tee junction directly in front of our heavily laden sedan plus trailer and my driver had to swerve into the other lane (to the horror of a driver there) to avoid a collision. I screamed “ABUSE!” at them at the top of my lungs as we passed. The driver hadn’t heard what I said, but his passenger did and was laughing so hard that he couldn’t coherently explain to his driver. They were both still laughing when they pulled up next to us at a traffic light in Spearwood about 10km later.

In tangentially related news I recently acquired a VHS-tape-sized "Perth Compact Street Directory" for AUD$10 from BigW with the intent of carrying it in my backpack while out cycling, and it turned out to be most useful for getting a street name right and for picking the correct street out of the relatively low-res imagery sections of Rockingham.

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