Like anyone who has driven for more than a month, I have found myself embarrassed because I pulled out in front of someone who was coming down the road and I didn't see them. You know, like being at a corner where a tree hangs a little too far over or where trucks are parked and you can't see a vehicle coming. I am always embarrassed when I do this and hope like heck when I reach the next light or a stop sign that the person I turned in front of has either turned off the road along the way or I beat them through the stop.
That's because I don't know how to handle sitting at a stop light with the person I just scared the hell out of pulled up next to me. I mean, what do you do in this situation?
You can't just roll down the window, get the persons attention and say "I'm sorry I almost wrecked your new Corvette and came close to killing you. Are you alright?"
More than likely if you rolled down your window the person would either:
(A) Run the light to get away from some crazy person who tried to do them in;
(B) Keep their windows rolled up and pretend they were speaking on their phone to 911, or;
(C) Pull out a pistol and let you have it.
I know I have seen drivers do that to me and I get mad, but if you take into account everyone cuts people off, pulls in front of someone or turns without a signal at sometime in their life you need to give the person in the car doing the infraction a break. That is, of course, unless after they do it to you, you start to see a pattern of doing crazing things to other drivers.
This idea of road rage over what is most of time an innocent mistake we all make shows the narcism in each of us. When we do something wrong on the road it is either because it was a total mistake or we believe we are entitled to do it because something important is going on in our lives and we have to get somewhere as fast as we can. Few of us remember that we have been on the other end of that kind of behavior before.
I have to wonder when this began. Did it only begin with cars because things move so quickly, or in the horse and buggy days were people picked off with a Winchester when their horse bumped into someone elses wagon.
Maybe it began even farther back, when people walked everywhere. I can see a person on a crowded early London street with everyone walking and someone comes out of a hidden door off to the side and almost knocks someone else down. The offended pulls out a big knife and the guy who did it says "I..I..I beg your pardon."
It may sound silly but it had to start somewhere. But just like people will often say things in a text or in an email they would never say to your face, I think people, when they are next to each other in a crowd will not be near as put out as they are in their cars? I had to wonder why, when I thought about it.
I think it is because we don't see a car as the person driving it, but as an inanimate object. They become a thing, not someone who is a husband, son, brother, mother, daughter or sister to someone. The steel, the glass, the showy color all signify that "something" is causing us trouble in our sweet quiet path down the road, not a person. We can't know what they are thinking as they control their two tons of metal and plastic. Maybe they are having a bad day or maybe they are distracted by an argument with their spouse. In a crowd of people we would hardly notice it, but in the fast lane it is pretty easy to judge someone else and their intentions without never really knowing what is going on.
It has often been said that the machine age has dehumanized life. Well if it has it isn't only in the industrial complexes many work in where human beings are just little fleas compared to large machines and profit agendas, it is also on our roads. The cars and trucks and RV's and motorcycles and everything else in our way, become obstacles to avoid, not people to regard.
Few of us, however, would purposely run someone down in a vehicle even if we could get away with it, so laws against raging drivers are pretty useless other than to add another charge after a deed is done. No one thinks that they might go to jail in the anger that accompanies a road rage incident, they just want to "get even" or show that they cannot be "dissed" like that.
When we see people as people, whether it be as they drive a machine or walk down the sidewalk or in a mall, we tend to be much softer on them. Certainly those individuals with sociopathic tendencies don't see that, because all that counts to them is themselves.
But for most of us, looking at someone as a person tends to make us realize our own frailties as well.