Rule Follower.





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.

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  1. Allison

    I feel this with every bone in my carcass. I am willing to relax my standards if it doesn’t affect anyone else – but it almost always does. Have I been mad enough to stop my car and block another driver to yell at them? Yes. Have I done it? Glad you’re OK – hope the other driver eventually saw the error of his ways.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I have a bad feeling the other driver hit the error of his ways. I just hope he didn’t take anyone else out when he did it.

  2. giac mcley

    but chris, didn’t the state legislature in special session earlier this year criminalise driving within the posted speed limit? congress too, just try the interstate.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Our state legislature has been up to a lot of creative shenanigans lately but this is one I’m not aware of. I’ll stick to the posted speed limit until they ram it up my tailpipe.


    I often think about a comedian (I think it was Gallagher) who suggested that we all be given toy guns with rubber tipped darts, that we shoot at awful and obnoxious drivers, and that the police stop the cars that are covered with darts. A great solution to a universal problem, Chris, and thanks for following the rules.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I think that’s an excellent suggestion. It’s better than some of the ones I’ve heard. I knew a guy who carried a flare gun in his car and threatened to use it on obnoxious drivers. Fortunately he never did, at least not that I know of. I suspect it would have caused more trouble than it solved, which is why using a flare gun on city streets is against the rules.


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