Those are humans behind the wheel
It was one of those days when it was still hovering around 100 degrees at 7:30 p.m. CDOT had decided to conduct their chip seal project on Interstate 70 in the middle of Glenwood’s rush hour, and everywhere there was a road, it seemed, there were cars backed up on it.
My husband Erik, my 10-year-old stepdaughter Elizabeth and I had dinner in Glenwood that night, then threw ourselves into the fray. We inched along with everyone else on the bypass, crawling from Veltus Park to the West Glenwood I-70 onramp in a lightning-fast 45 minutes. Actually, it would have been faster if we had gotten out of the car and crawled rather than stay with the car. But that poses logistical problems.
By the time we reached the West Glenwood westbound onramp, we were ready to end this particular driving chapter. Since I was driving, I watched as motorists took turns merging between the equally slow-moving vehicles that were stuck on I-70. It was really quite civilized. Everyone took turns – one car would yield while a vehicle would merge, another would yield and then another car would merge. Everyone knew everybody else was crabby and that no one wanted to be there, but there we were.
Finally, it was our turn to merge into I-70 traffic, and I slowly moved up into position, inching towards a truck with a local construction company name painted on its passenger door. But as I angled in, the truck moved forward too. The driver had no intention of letting me in. I inched forward some more. The truck wasn’t stopping. The driver got as close as he possibly could to the vehicle ahead of him and held fast. He wasn’t letting me in for anything.
Here’s when the road rage kicked in. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was being tired at the end of a long day and maybe it was being trapped in traffic for almost an hour, but I yelled something mean, and even used a very inappropriate hand gesture.
“Carrie!” Elizabeth said.
My 10-year-old stepdaughter was right. I made a pact with myself several years ago that road rage is not something I want or need to do. But I had let myself give in to The Double R. Road rage. Even though I immediately explained to Elizabeth that it really makes me mad when people are inconsiderate of others, she was right. You don’t fight fire with fire.
We wrote down the name of the construction company and we took down the license plate, feeling thankful that we didn’t get in front of the truck since the driver was now relentlessly tailgating the car in front of him.
Now relaxed and with the proper perspective in place, I called the construction company the next day and told the little story to the man who answered the phone. By then, I was completely calmed down.
“You know, we’ve probably all done it, but it just chapped me to be sitting in traffic like everybody was and to deal with something like that,” I told him. The man said he was going to have a talk with the driver.
About an hour passed and my phone rang.
“Is this Carrie?” asked the man on the other end of the line. When I said yes, he explained he was the truck’s driver. He’d also had a long day, and said he didn’t see me pulling in, which I still find a little tough to believe.
But who cares? Suddenly, the driver had a voice and an apology. He was human, just like me. We laughed a little, and I thanked him more than once for calling me back.
Later, I told Elizabeth that the truck driver called me and apologized. I told her he was a nice guy and that he was sorry. He’d had a bad day. It happens.
In the newsroom, the police scanner is on all the time. We hear stories every day about road rage incidents. My little altercation reminded me that we’re all susceptible to giving in to it – and that we don’t have to. After all, we’re all human.
– Carrie Click is a reporter for the Post Independent. Her column appears most Tuesdays.
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