Rant and Rave


Stop the World, I Wanna Get Off!

The Other Side of Road Rage

by Tom Magliozzi


It seems that everywhere I turn, the world is getting worse and worse--more and more hopeless. Now it's road rage. I can't believe the aggressiveness, the rudeness, the complete lack of civility and consideration I hear about. For example, motorists in New York City refuse to pull over for an ambulance. An ambulance! Taking a dying person to a hospital, and some downtown stockbroker thinks his meeting is more important. Give me a break. Some guy shoots a woman who cut him off in traffic. Shoots her! Kills her! In Boston, drivers refuse to come to the mandatory stop for school buses. A kid gets hit every week because some absolutely stupid, moronic jerk has to get to work on time. Stop the world, guys--I want out. There's no hope. It's gone too far.

At least that's what the media would have us believe. I've seen all the road rage TV specials; read all the newspaper and news magazine articles; listened to all the talk shows. They all conclude that the reasons for this behavior are so deep-rooted in our warped psyches that 1) it's hopeless; and 2) we should DEFINITELY not try to do anything about it, lest we too become victims of the madness.

Well, on reconsideration, don't bother to stop the world, because I realize I've got nowhere else to go. So, we had better fix the world we have. And, personally, I'm mad as hell and I ain't gonna take it anymore. The reason we're paralyzed is that we see the perpetrators as an amorphous mass of millions of unidentified motorists.

What can any one of us possibly do? I know what I'd *like* to do. Take, for example, that bimbo who was tailgating me all the way down I-93 this morning at 65 mph. I wanted to stop her, pull her out of her big, fancy sport utility vehicle and give her the dope slap she so justly deserved. I wanted to tell her how rude it is to creep up someone's backside because he's driving only 10 mph over the speed limit and that's not fast enough for her. I wanted to ask her if her mother ever taught her any damn manners. And I wanted to put an UNremovable bumper sticker on her SUV that said "I am an unmitigated rude jerk and I deserve whatever I get."

God, I wanted to do that. But I didn't.

But, doesn't someone have to do it? If no one does, won't she and others of her ilk take over the world? Won't THEY determine what's right? Do I want people like her determining the standards of acceptable public behavior?

So, who's gonna do it? How about this: the people we PAY to do it. Yeah--the police. I know, I know--the police can't be everywhere. But can't they be somewhere?

On Route 128 around Boston, the police could, if they wanted to, issue 100,000 citations a day for speeding and tailgating. Instead, they are conspicuously absent during rush hours. By their absence, they are condoning--and reinforcing--illegal and uncivil behavior. Don't tell me that they don't KNOW 100,000 drivers are speeding and tailgating every day. They know, but they don't want to disrupt rush-hour traffic!

Good thinking, boys.

I blame the police for every confrontation because they never tell anyone their behavior is wrong. I blame them for every highway fatality because they never stop the people who drive recklessly. I blame them for every incident caused by road rage. I blame them for my anger, my distress, my pain and suffering! (I also blame the Mass. Registry of Motor vehicles--but that's another story.)

YOU are the only one who can stop this blatant dereliction of duty. You are the one who must tell the police that you want them to do the job you pay them for. But you won't. And here's why. Because you're a coward. You know what's right. You know that, indirectly, every scofflaw is responsible sooner or later for the 1,000 people who die on the roads every week. And you know, in your heart, that you yourself are one of those scofflaws. But you don't want YOUR license revoked. You don't want to take responsibility for anyone's death. Sure, you may drive too fast. Yes, you've tailgated to get the person in front of you to get on with it. You've blown the horn when someone hesitated for a nanosecond when the light turned green. And you may not really stop at every stop sign. But, you're basically a nice person. You don't deserve to be punished for any of these minor infractions.

Great. Sleep tight, and pray it's not your kid who gets hit by the jerk passing the stopped school bus. Pray that you're not in the ambulance that doesn't get to the hospital in time. But just pray. Don't do anything else about it. Good luck. Jerk.

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