road rage is an interesting concept. growing up, i remember my parents using their car horns to alert other drivers of their idiocy, but that and maybe the occasional “fucking scumbag piece of shit” under their breath was about the extent of it. growing up in new england, liberal use of your horn is ingrained in you from the beginning.
when i got my driver’s license i was exposed to just how many bad drivers are out there on the road at any given moment, and if you’ve ever driven on the 95 anywhere on the east coast then you know exactly what the seventh circle of hell is like.
while i’ve certainly had my share of outbursts, i don’t think i’d ever resort to some of the more ambitious retaliatory actions that others have, such as the man who killed another couple with a crossbow that he pulled out of his trunk when the two cars had pulled over to exchange insurance information after a fender bender. that one was included in the connecticut dmv’s booklet for kids getting their driver’s permits. filed under the section of “please don’t do this.” there was a cartoon illustration and everything.
i’m not sure if it’s possible to have reverse road rage, but last week i came pretty close. i was walking home from the gym, headphones on and a an extra hop in my giddyup, when out of nowhere i heard this obnoxious buzzing of an engine. it wasn’t nearly loud enough to be a car. i squinted in the distance and didn’t see anything, behind me was the same.
the buzzing grew louder and approached quickly. on the other side of the street roaring down the alley was a man and what i assume was his son in some kind of raggedy ass go kart coming towards me at a cool 40mph.
now, this is a residential neighborhood and it was about 10:30pm so there wasn’t a big chance of running into a car, but this guy came driving through the alley, crossed the street without slowing down to check for cars and plowed through the alley on my side, the entrance to which was about a foot and a half in front of me.
it may not sound like a big deal, but everything i just described took place in about 8 seconds, luke perry style, from the moment i first heard the engine, saw them coming and nearly got taken out. so i was a little flustered.
on top of all that, as they drove by me, the dad yelled in a sarcastic valley girl voice, “sooorrrrrrrry,” which made him and his progeny laugh like a couple of malnourished hyenas.
with this reckless slight kicking my attitude into high gear, i yelled -and i mean i fucking yelled, in a guttural, animalistic scream-
“your son wets the bed! YOUR SON WETS THE BED!”
i stopped for a second, not realizing why that involuntarily came out of my mouth, but before i could even think about what just happened, i saw it.
staring back at me with two soulless, deadened eyes and just a hint of a tear was the boy. the look on that kids face was that of a heartbroken puppy being told by its owner that it was a bad dog for the first time. deer in the headlights, spirit absolutely crushed, like i had just told the world his secret. which obviously means i was right, and technically did tell the world, or at least the neighborhood, his secret.
and as i felt a twinge of guilt wash over me, i immediately realized something: this humiliating moment would build more character for the boy than anything his dickhead father could ever hope to instill in him. seeing someone in the real world other than his family, give him a hard dose of truth for the first time in his life.
not mommy or daddy telling him it’s okay to have pop tarts for dinner instead of chicken and vegetables; not grandma telling him it’s fine that he struck out to end his little league game and no, i swear you didn’t ruin all the hopes and dreams of your teammates.
this was a stranger, on a dark street late at night, telling him what he so desperately needed to know: you are not special, and wetting the bed at your age is not normal. if this were home alone, you would be fuller and no one would want to share a room with you.
and for that, i knew i had done society a great service, and i smiled to myself as a slight breeze came back through the alley. my alley.