I’m kind of a stickler for traffic rules: stop signs, speed limits, signaling, at least putting pants on before I get in the car even though we don’t have leather seats so I wouldn’t stick to them, wearing my seatbelt—you get the idea. Sometimes I know the rules don’t have to be strictly followed. There are times when I can see enough of an intersection from a distance that I know I don’t have to stop because there aren’t any cars coming the other way. I do it anyway because I worry that if I get in the habit of breezing through the intersection one of these days I won’t look when there is another car coming. I even have some history with this. Riding my bike as a kid I got in the habit of not stopping at intersections because there were so few cars around, and then I almost got hit by a driver who also didn’t stop.
In my neighborhood, and in neighborhoods generally, I’m especially careful about the speed limit and usually try to stay a mile or two under it because I never know when I’m going to go around a curve or over a hill and find someone walking along the street or a kid on their bike. Hitting someone can, at the very least, cause significant delays.
Most drivers who end up behind me don’t seem to have a problem with this, but the other day a guy was following me so closely I could see his nose hair in my rearview mirror. This was a case where “riding my bumper” wasn’t just an expression. I think he was making actual contact. When I stopped at a stop sign he revved his engine hard and I could see him waving his arms and yelling and then he just followed me through the intersection. A few times he swerved trying to get around me, on a two-lane street, but then had to get back in line because of cars coming the other way.
Here’s the deal: I try not to be judgmental. Maybe he was trying to get to a hospital or he had some other emergency and that’s why he was in such a hurry. Fortunately a turn was coming up and I hoped I could get out of his way. I put on my turn signal and stopped.
Here’s the other deal: he pulled around, blocking me so I couldn’t turn, and spent at least thirty seconds giving me the finger and screaming at me through the closed window of his car. Now I could be judgmental. If it had been a real emergency he wouldn’t have time for that. Or if it was a real emergency he was making it worse.
He then sped off, still in the wrong lane, and when he went over the hill was probably going fifty in a 25MPH zone.
I just hope he didn’t hit anyone.