Driving on Highway 92, I saw a guy behind me in a Subaru. He was honking, honking a lot. One would think I had a flat tire or an emergency situation happening. We were driving 55, and I was maybe 200 feet from the person in front of me, same rate of speed. I would have rather created more space (it takes 400 feet to stop at that speed)… but the guy who was behind me was honking, obviously.
We approached the red light, and the turn lane opened. To my relief, the Subaru fury guy zoomed around, expressed himself in other angry ways, and turned right. I was rid of him.
I watched my thoughts: I was driving well. I actually have professional background to judge that, having taught Driver’s Ed for a decade. I was going the same speed as the driver in front of me. Although I would normally want to create more space between myself and the person I was following when I had a tailgater (he was a car length back), I did not because he was obviously imbalanced and I didn’t want to appear hostile. I just kept doing me. I stayed very consistent and predictable. That makes it easier for the other to pass.
But his rage was not about me. Or maybe it was. He might have saved one literal second if I was closer to the guy I was following.
Then I saw my thoughts turn to “what if”. What if he knew my life circumstances, if he realized how he was treating ME after all I have been through? What if I was driving away from a funeral? What if I was one of those gun carrying, equally angry drivers who had “just had enough”? People have died for much less. What if I was learning how to drive, or if I was 90 and half blind? What if I was his grandma? What if? I started to cry. And him, my thoughts and prayers turned to this hostile, dangerous, hurt human: Maybe his wife was at home giving birth? Perhaps he just lost his job, or doesn’t know how he can buy food for his kids this week? Maybe his life utterly sucks to the level that there was nothing more that he could be in this existence? Horrible. What if?