Thursday, February 25, 2010

How To Handle Getting Flipped Off On The Road

Who among us can honestly say his or her driving hasn't, at one time or other, elicited "the finger" from a fellow motorist?  We've ALL been "flipped off" from time to time.
My first incident happened when I was 21-years old, lean and dressed to the 9's in a tuxedo, heading to my parents house to pick them up for a wedding(not mine).  I was about to turn right on to Curtner Ave. from Meridian Ave. in San Jose, California, when this gorgeous girl changed lanes from behind me, pulled along side and swiftly flipped me "the bird"! 
  I was stunned. (I must have accidentally cut her off.)  All I could do was shrug my shoulders, as she flashed a quick smile and sped off.  I guess that wasn't so bad, however, what happened  two days ago...was even better!
Heading southbound on De La Cruz Blvd. in Santa Clara, California,  I eased down to the speed limit as is a daily habit between Martin and Reed Avenue, because Santa Clara traffic cops constantly patrol that corridor with radar.  In fact, I had just noticed a motorcycle unit about 100-yards up,  pointing his lidar-gun in my direction....when at the same moment,  this pick-up truck sped-up behind me from out of nowhere.
The driver laid on his horn, changed lanes and raced by while vigorously flipping me off, as he flew past. Unfortunately, whatever satisfaction he may have enjoyed was short-lived!  From my rear-view mirror, I saw the motorcycle cop pull out and blow by me to flag down the fast-fingered driver. 
Upon catching up, I noticed the stopped driver's right hand cupped over his forehead , displaying a much more civil gesture!  Unfortunately, flipping someone off or getting flipped off seldom ends with a ticket or a peaceful chuckle. Thousands of road rage incidents stem from this foul hand gesture, leading to violence, injury and death...among other things. 
Take what happened last year in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  An Australian businessman living and working there got mad and flipped off a local driver, who then followed him home, beat him up, and called the police. The local driver happened to be an Arab-Emirates Government official. The Australian was immediately thrown in jail for a month, and then deported along with his working wife.
This past June, a 62-year old New Jersey man was killed after crazily chasing down a young woman who had flipped him off.  His front bumper clipped her from behind, sending his car flipping out of control, and ejecting him.
"The bird" can get you into trouble elsewhere, too.  At the Canadian Legislature in the province of New Brunswick recently, a Liberal Party official flipped-off a Progressive Conservative adversary during a debate, and was suspended for three days without pay!
Back on the road, the simplest rule is to never, never, flip anyone off! Ignore it, and AVOID danger. But, what about receiving the insulting gesture?  A woman in Foster City, California suffered extreme anxiety following her first episode, when a man tailgated and flipped her off repeatedly, before finally turning the corner in another direction. She couldn't stop wondering what she'd done wrong.  "Couldn't the man see I was helpless and alone, with a baby in the back seat?", she wondered.
After a week of poor sleep, the woman finally called a handful of girlfriends to see how they handled getting flipped off, and some of thier answers made sense.  One would slap the side of her head and whisper the words 'I'm sorry'...which got an "ok, no problem" reaction. 
Another woman met the bird by blowing back a kiss, while another, into Yoga yelled back  "Go to Yoga" to any naughty hand signals.  A final remedy was to pick up the cell phone and act as if you're calling the police! This usually did the trick, and these ideas finally gave the anxious woman some piece-of-mind.
As mentioned in a previous blog, the best way to deal with unkind, aggressive driving behavior is to steer clear of it,  by driving safely, ignoring horns, verbal insults or the infamous bird flip which can often inflame road rage incidents..
Should danger persist despite avoidance or apology, use your cell phone to call for help, and drive to either a police station or other populated area...but,  NEVER drive strait least not until totally clear of of danger. This is all COMMON SENSE.  Use it!
Thanks, drive carefully, and stay out of harms way,
"Best Wishes"--PTCJr
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