phynedyning

“I’m impatient, you’re rude”

In Lifestyle on May 25, 2011 at 10:47 am

“Everyone who drives slower than me is an idiot, and everyone who drives faster than me is a maniac.”


I have been had a recent, maniacal (almost obsessive) fascination with the angry/aggressive behavior of drivers who are otherwise nice people.

Yesterday, I journeyed out to refill “Jack’s” medication at the Hy Vee pharmacy nearby.  When I emerged, minutes later, the sky had opened and I found myself wondering if G-d had forgotten about the promise not drown mankind twice.  I stood under the overhang outside the store and watched the rain, enjoying a jovial conversation with some kids from Indiana.

Suddenly, a small Kia zoomed to the (red) curb in front of the doors.  A man jumped out of the front seat and ran to a grocery cart stashed under the awning.  He quickly loaded his single sack of dog food and began to head for the driver’s side door.

A horn blared.

“Hey ***-hole! Are you special?”

The voice came from a white SUV stopped behind the Kia.  The driver of the Kia looked at me and asked, “Did you hear that?”  I shrugged.  The damage had been done and there was no sense throwing gasoline on the flames.

The Kia driver had turned his four-way flashers on and had parked well to the side to allow other vehicles sufficient clearance to pass.  The driver did not go inside the store.  He merely sprinted from the Kia, retrieved his bag of dog food, and sprinted back to his car.  The whole schpiel took him less than fifteen seconds.

The SUV driver leaned on the horn.

I opened the copy of Cityview I had picked up from the rack inside the store.

Cityview is my newspaper of choice.  It is a delightful break from the corporate-approved and Iowa Ministry of Economic Development blather served up, pre-masticated for the masses, by the Des Moines Register.

Inside, Cityview’s editor and publisher, Shane Goodman was holding court below the masthead, in part, on his impatience with some drivers.

Goodman detailed his impatience with drivers who cruise at 15mph in 40mph zones.

Then he took on “…the driver who holds up dozens of cars in the right turning lane (sic) but waits for the light to turn green to go straight.”

Aha!

Goodman may have a valid point against inconsiderate drivers who do so in a lane marked “right turn only”.  But then, going straight in a lane so-marked would be a violation, not just bad manners.

Two points:

One, unless a lane is a designated turn lane, a car in that lane may proceed straight ahead when the signal permits doing so.  It would make no sense to require otherwise, especially if the driver wishes to enter a driveway or street immediately on the right beyond the intersection.

Two, there is no requirement for a driver to turn right on red.  Notice the excerpt from the Iowa Code below:

321.257  OFFICIAL TRAFFIC-CONTROL SIGNAL. 1.  For the purposes of this section “stop at the official traffic-control signal” means stopping at the first opportunity at either the clearly marked stop line or before entering the crosswalk or before entering the intersection. 2.  Official traffic-control signals consisting of colored lights or colored lighted arrows shall regulate vehicle and pedestrian       traffic in the following manner: a.  A “steady circular red” light means vehicular traffic shall stop.  Vehicular traffic shall remain standing until a signal to proceed is shown or vehicular traffic, unless prohibited by a sign, may cautiously enter the intersection to make a right turn from the right lane of traffic or a left turn from a one-way street to a one-way street from the left lane of traffic on a one-way street onto the leftmost lane of traffic on a one-way street.  Turns made under this paragraph shall be made in a manner that does not interfere with other vehicular or pedestrian traffic lawfully using the intersection.


If drivers were required to turn right on red, the bolded “may” would read, “shall”.

Goodman’s self-critical comments about his impatience made me think.

“Ah!  To impatient people, anything that interferes with their immediate gratification is “rude” or “inconsiderate”.  The offender’s actions need not be truly rude.  Their actions need only be relabeled as rude to draw a no quarter response from the otherwise nice, but impatient, person they inconvenienced.  Being rude to, or punishing, rude people is socially acceptable!

Case in point.

A person claiming to be a civil process server banged repeatedly on my door over several weeks to ask if I had seen my neighbor for whom she had some legal papers.  It is my policy not to give information about anybody simply because someone demands that information.

I would not want my neighbor giving information to anyone about my coming and going.  So, why would I aggress upon his/her likely similar expectation?

One afternoon, I busied myself with a vehicle repair in my driveway.  A shadow fell over me.  I looked up and there stood the attorney’s hireling responsible for all of the door banging.

“Have you seen your neighbor?” she asked in an officious tone.

I worked silently on the car.

“Look, it would be better if you just told me.  I’m an officer of the court.”

“I have nothing to offer you.  I am not the person you are seeking and I have told you so on numerous occasions.  I do not keep track of my neighbors and I am not compelled to become a neighborhood busybody and snitch.  Now, since you no longer have a lawful authority or purpose to remain on my property demanding answers, I am asking you to leave.”

Her face reddened.  “There’s no need to be rude” she fumed.  She walked to the rear of the car I was working on and made a big show of writing down my vehicle’s license number.

After she stomped off, I contemplated my “rude” behavior.

I had not raised my voice and did not use vulgar language or gestures.  I merely re-stated that I was not the person sought and that I respected the privacy of my neighbors.  Then, because there was no further business between us to be discussed, I asked her to leave.

But!

The woman had a much different scenario playing in her head as she approached me.

She would ask me about my neighbor’s comings and goings and I would babble the times I see my neighbor and might even helpfully offer to call her the next time my neighbor is home.

It did not happen that way.  She was impatient to deliver her packet of assigned legal papers to her target.  I had thwarted her plans.

Consequently, her expectation of immediate gratification transformed my reasonable expectation to be left alone into “rudeness” that deserved a punishing act by her.

Now, I get the anger and aggression displayed by so many drivers.  I will pick on Shane for the purpose of illustration.

Goodman sees the intersection ahead and wishes to turn right.  The light is red and right turns on red are not prohibited at this intersection.  Goodman anticipates that the driver of the lead car will turn right on red and that he (Goodman) will soon be at the intersection to turn right when it is his turn to do so.  His fingers drum on the steering wheel in anticipation.

But, the driver of the lead car does not wish to turn right.  The lead car remains motionless until the light turns green…the lead car goes straight.

The lane, contrary to reality, is the turning lane for Goodman and it was rude of the driver in the lead to obstruct Goodman’s anticipated progress.

The driver who blew the horn and cursed at the man picking up his dog food saw himself proceeding, uninhibited, out of the supermarket parking lot and going about his planned business.

The driver of the Kia interfered with those plans, causing the driver of the SUV to defer his immediate gratification.

Immediate gratification deferred…cause of delay is “rudeness”…I am justified to punish rudeness with a horn blast and stern language.

“You’re driving slower than I saw myself going.  How rude!  I’ll punish your rudeness by tailgating.”

“I saw myself zipping through Beaverdale.  I didn’t expect someone to be in the crosswalk, but there you are.  How rude!  I’ll punish you by blowing my horn.”

I am betting if asked, the angry/aggressive drivers would attribute their actions to the “rudeness” or “inconsiderate acts” of other drivers.

Nice people do not like rudeness and want rude people to be nice.  It becomes their self-appointed duty to correct rude behavior.

My question has been answered.

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