Yesterday, I experienced extreme road rage. Not just someone who flipped me off and drove off, but an aggressive driver whose actions could have killed me and others.
I was traveling on I-5 the major north-south freeway in Oregon. The section I was driving was in the mountains on a steep grade. I was traveling in the left lane in a pack of about 7 or 8 vehicles. I was number two behind the lead vehicle. To be honest, we were all moving at a good clip, but still safe if we kept our distance.
The right lane was filled with slow trucks, some with their emergency blinkers on giving approaching vehicles a heads up. It was obvious our pack of cars would begin to break up and pull over once we reached the top of the grade.
Behind me was the problem. The person driving a silver SUV was tailgating me gesturing wildly that I was to immediately pull over and let him pass. His rage had taken over causing him to not realize if he could be patient for just a minute or two, this would be resolved. He would have none of it. He had tunnel vision. The road belonged to him.
After our pack of cars reached the summit and finally passed the long line of trucks, the vehicle ahead of me pulled over and I followed suit. The raging driver started to do the same but cut into my lane like I was not there. I swerved out of the way, but that was not enough for him. He swerved once again, this time trying to hit me. What he failed to realize his rage was now in full control of his actions. He had set himself up perfectly to become the victim of a PIT maneuver (pursuit intervention technique), something I would have gladly performed had this been a police pursuit. If I had stood my ground in my lane and pressed into him, he would have spun around and who knows what would have happened, none of it good.
As the driver sped off, I had lots of thoughts, some I needed to confess. The driver was the poster child for why rage in any circumstance is never the right choice. The enraged man driving behind me felt he owned the road and I would be his enemy until he comes up behind the next group of vehicles who were unwilling to do 85 through the twists and turns of a mountainous freeway. Uncontrolled emotional rage takes us to dark places. Rage wanted to invite me into its folly, but I declined the invitation.
Rage is increasing in our world. It’s not just on the road or social media. Its potential is everywhere in a world filled with fear. Rage is trying to get into our heads and take control of our remaining good sense. At first, rage knocks on the door of our heart disguised as a justification for what we consider as our right to do whatever our emotions tell us to do. Unless we deal with the invitation to rage early in the process, we will travel through life being a compliant victim to its enticement.
The enraged driver behind me felt like he owned the road and wanted to punish me for my failure to yield to his demand to pass. I would his enemy for a while until he sped on ahead and pulled up behind the next group of vehicles who were also unwilling to obey his unsafe and enraged demand to get out of his way. Such is the nonsense of rage, on the road or in our minds.