Photo by Karl Hörnfeldt / Unsplash

A quiet drive to the neighborhood store almost ends in a bloody crash, and what I did about it

It had been a decent day up to that point, but bearing down on  hot. Hot makes people crazy, and we are headed for far more hot, whether or not you happen to believe in climate change. In a few years, there will be a "heat belt" in the USA, serving up days with temps up to 125 degrees.

An ‘extreme heat belt’ will impact over 100 million Americans in the next 30 years, study finds
Worsening heat and humidity as a result of climate change will bring extremely dangerous heat indices to much of the United States in the next 30 years, increasing both the intensity and frequency of the hottest days of the year, according to a new study published Monday.

If you think eggs cook on the sidewalk, watch what happens to you, or your infant in a stroller, or to those poor dogs, people and babies left in the car. I suspect that will become a brand new way to accidentally dispatch various family members you need gone. Just lock 'em in, tell 'em you'll; be RIGHT back, and walk away. Let Mother Nature cook 'em. Honestly, while I joke, I do not underestimate the American crazy. We are capable of anything these days.

We are already a very angry nation. For proof, see social media. However add lousy food and sedentary habits:

How Microbiomes Affect Fear
There’s evidence that microbiomes can influence the fear responses of their hosts, possibly by releasing compounds that affect the brain’s neuroanatomy and function.

And people who have fallen off the deep end in terms of their political and religious beliefs. We have an evil stew. Even up here in mild, calm, kind Eugene.

I have no idea what was going on with the sixty-ish White woman in the maroon Toyota Sienna behind me. I was driving north on Bertelsen Road to go to a local store for supplies. I was driving the speed limit and about to turn left, had my left hand signal on, and pulled into the turn zone. That woman was already in the lane and driving WAY too fast, so apparently she had to slow down to allow me in. I had checked my left mirror and had plenty of room, but ONLY if that car was driving safely.

She wasn't. She was speeding, and had to put on the brakes.

Far be it for THIS woman to be forced to allow another driver into the turn lane.

She nearly slammed my bumper, I watched her, slowed more for the turn (I am, after all, driving with one hand down) and made the turn.

The next couple of seconds were interesting. My left signal was still on because I was making an immediate left hand turn into the store parking lot. This woman roars by me on this two-lane street, and appears on my left just as I am turning left.

I nearly drove right into her. So I hit the horn. Parked. Got out of my car to watch her bitter, angry face as she marched towards the door.

From a distance I asked, "Are you genuinely OUT OF YOUR MIND?"

She reached  into her purse and I turned to reach into mine. I do not have a gun, but I do have a camera. Apparently she thought better of it and disappeared into the store.

Some people chase such folks and get into terribly dangerous altercations. Really? And this will end well for anyone? Nope.

I walked to the back of her car, snapped a photo  of her license and then drove across the street to a shady spot where I could call the cops.

As someone who has had to write incident reports, I am good at this. I very calmly described precisely what happened, including the directions we were headed, specifics of her car and behavior, exactly what had transpired, the time, all of it without passion or extreme emotion. It is far more effective to  be calm, factual, crisp and clear. I read off the license plate number.

I am ex-military. This is precisely the kind of situation where that kind of calm pays off. Authority figures take us far more seriously when we can be factual, careful with details and deliver the incident, not the incendiary feelings.

People respect calm. They understand anger, but anger often leads to exaggeration, and calm implies clear thinking.

I watched her return to her car and then told the 911 operator what direction she was headed. Then it's up to them. Not my business after this.

We get killed when we try to police others. The phone camera has a job to do these days, and while I never thought I'd ever use it for such a reason, there you are. I did.

The day had been hovering at ninety. I get how heat affects us. However, when an aging white woman is perfectly willing to endanger another driver over some perceived insult or infraction, or to gain an extra three seconds of advantage into a parking lot that had perhaps three cars in it, that tells me that she's damned dangerous on the road.

As a military veteran who had leadership responsibilities, I always and forever default away from "it's all about me" to "how does this affect others?" The answer is why I called 911. I feel the same about drunk driving or animal abuse. It's about the impact on others.

I'm a big girl. I get injured, I get better. I live to fight another day.

What about if Mrs. Pissed-at-the-World takes out a car full of kids and dogs?

Along with everything else, road rage is on the rise:

Road Rage Statistics and Facts in 2022 | Bankrate
To help shed light on the rapidly growing issue of road rage, we compiled the latest statistics and facts about road rage in the U.S.

Heat is going to exacerbate it, too.

One reason I left Denver was that the roads were full of pissed-off people with Confederate flags in the backs of their trucks, weaving in and out of fast traffic. And folks who didn't bother to notice early morning joggers. And folks who assumed that cyclists are stealing "their" roads, and needed to be taken out.

NPR Cookie Consent and Choices

And we're not alone:

Cycling deaths investigated by OPP up 300% since this time last year | CBC News
Ontario Provincial Police say they have seen a 300 per cent spike in cyclist deaths so far this year. A Toronto cycling advocate calls the increase a “very troubling upward trend.”

When this aging woman, with an injury, can't drive safely four miles to a store to get supplies, imaging cycling. Imaging walking.

Imaging doing all those things while Black or Brown or Asian, which is already rife with danger.

You get it.

We are an angry, angry, ANGRY nation.

However, my response isn't to get even, which gets us killed or in jail. My response is to report. That doesn't make me a Karen, albeit this bitter female likely thinks of me this way. It does mean that I am not willing to tolerate dangerously aggressive driving, because the next person she encounters may go off the road, taking a car full of kids and family with them.

That is why I report. You should too. Let the cops take care of the crazies, and live to drive another day.

Photo by Caique Silva / Unsplash

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