Native rage

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While driving on I-25 the other day, my husband very thoughtfully leaned on his horn in response to a timid mini-van driver as she was merging. She looked over at us and was greeted with the sight of my husband’s extended middle finger in addition to my pointed shrug. Screw you, but good GOD I am sorry!

A few years ago I found myself on the receiving end of a pretty mind-blowing incident of road rage. (It’s important to me that you hear an unbiased account of how not my fault it was, so please focus up.)

It’s Christmas Eve 2009 in Colorado Springs — I suppose, in all places — and I was lollygaggling home after an uneventful day at work. “Lollygaggling," by the way, is a somewhat laid-back style of driving developed in New Jersey that involves wearing a seatbelt and using turn signals. (It’s just regular driving, I guess, following all the rules.)

I’m driving east on Cimarron and I’m in the right-hand lane in my tiny red Civic, literally driving in the shadow of a needlessly enormous pick-up truck.

I need to turn left. “No problem!” Someone in the right mind might say, “put on your blinker and move on with your life.”

So, falalala… that’s what I did. (So we’re clear, I was falalalala-ing, because I was alone on Christmas Eve. Falalalala was all I had.) But, guess what? The Monster-Beast-Life-Ruining Truck — a fun little nickname I came up with for the pick-up truck after several hours of brainstorming and vicarious emotion mapping — isn’t keen on letting me change lanes.

When I slow down, he slows down. When I speed up, he speeds up. Great.

As I mentioned earlier, I need to turn LEFT. So I put the pedal, as they say, to the metal. Luckily, nine-year-old Civics seem almost the same as brand new Corvettes, and I’m quickly able to pull ahead of MBLRT and slide into the turning lane. He didn’t even have to tap the brakes. The story should end there, but of course it doesn’t.

MBLRT swerves behind me, passes me in the on-coming traffic lane, pulls in front of me and slams on his brakes to a stop.

The entire chain of events blasted all rational thought and gut instinct out of my system, so I politely pull behind him and wait to die. Oh, no problem here, sir.

My parents came down on us pretty hard when it came to manners, but they kind of only glossed over stranger danger, and offered maybe a short list of how to avoid violent assaults. Which is why, apparently, as the man makes his way towards my window, my brain lands on, "Hey? May as well open my window, he looks like he has to something to say!”

That’s how I know MBLRT called me the C-word.

He was also brandishing what appeared to be a legitimate nightstick.

But, although I was violated by a seemingly never-ending string of obscenities, I was not physically hurt. Sticks and stones, I guess.

Eventually, my brain dusted itself off, smoothed the wrinkles in its skirt and suggested that I close my window and haul it out of there — ride my Civic straight into safety. I wound up driving in circles for about 30 minutes, until I could be sure MBLRT and his league of monster truck goons wasn’t following me.

When I finally made it home, I collapsed on the couch and called my parents, tearfully recounting the details of how big of a C-word I was.

“Geez,” my mom opined.

Even now I pay pretty obsessive attention to cars behind me when I drive. Some people hold grudges for a long time — something MBLRT and I must have in common. The Civic is gone — too much of a loose cannon I'd say — but even without her, my nightmarish flashbacks stubbornly remain.

These days, I'm more inclined to miss my turn and drive into a ditch and partially explode than cross another MBLRT. Instead of honking or flipping off other drivers on the road, I’ve developed a sort of pointed shrug — it’s as though I’m just aggressively apologizing at all times.

I’m sure the MBLRT method of driving/handling day-to-day problems is not exclusive to Colorado Springs. But having recently married a Springs native, I have to wonder if it’s not an inherent problem in the Pikes Peak region.

Just try to keep your cool out there, guys. Maybe flip on a turn signal every once in a while just to make sure it works and to freak everybody out. And, you know, because it's the law. But above all else, be kind to other drivers: Obviously, they're giving licenses to every C-Word out there.

K. Ring, a writer with extensive experience in news and communications, has been bottoming out in various potholes around Colorado Springs for 7 years. She lives in Hillside with a handsome husband and an emotionally erratic dog. You can follow K. on twitter (@SinghRing) or email questions and comments to RingKKS@gmail.com.

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