You don’t own the road. I know it is so hard to believe and so profoundly, deeply unfair, but you don’t own the length of road between where you are now and where you want to be. I don’t mean where you want to be in 1.2 seconds because, ok, you might arguably have rights to that space. I am saying you don’t own the whole path from A to B. You also don’t own all of the lanes when you are going around a curve that actually requires you to steer. You don’t own the entire street, even for the few moments you are stopped in the middle of it to send off a quick text. Therefore, you don’t need to have fits when someone else, namely Me, goes around you, merges into a lane you have claimed, makes a turn several hundred feet in front of you, takes an exit you were thinking of using, or stops for a red light that you intended to run.
Because you don’t own the road, it is equally unnecessary to punish me for my use of it. I do enjoy your aggravated gesticulations, including the head shake, fist shake, wide open palm wave that indicates your shock at my actions, and the very classy, very classic middle finger. I particularly like the performances where you mime punching me, shooting me, or shaking me by the neck. I admit that I find more disturbing your swerving toward me, tailgating me, and the ever effective pulling in front of me and slamming on your brakes. But you know, I have ten airbags. I’ll probably survive the wreck. Will you?
I find it curious that none of you, upon our mutual arrival at the natural foods co op, are sufficiently committed to your defense of road territory to actually speak to me outside the confines of your auto armor. If you feel strongly enough about my trespass that you are willing to teach your toddler passengers new words and gestures, perhaps you might consider real communication with me.
We aren’t having a race. I mean it. I am not racing you. If I happen to pass you, it is because you are going slower than me. Most likely you are going slower because you are on the phone or texting. When I do pass you, I am not emasculating you. Or stealing your feminine power. I am not trying to beat you home – I don’t know or care where you live or when you get there. I am not trying to get to the co op before you do, because I am pretty sure they have enough organic French lentils for all of us.
Because it isn’t a race, if I attempt to merge onto the highway, I am certainly not challenging your position in the flow of traffic. I know, I know, it feels like I am pushing you back, diminishing you, making you a loser when I merge. But I promise, I won’t contest it if you must accelerate wildly to pass me after I squeeze into your lane two seconds before you run me off the road.
Even if you did own the road, I’d still use your space, and if we were racing I would win. You see yourself as the Road Warrior, you are the BMW or the Peugeot in the Ronin chase, you are playing Grand Theft Auto in real time, you are the master of all of you survey in your powerful machine thrumming with the might of 90 or maybe even 400 horses. But make no mistake, you aren’t the master. My car is faster, nimbler, and probably smaller than yours – it has the trifecta of urban maneuverability. I could take you if I wanted. Easily. But I am polite so I don’t. Most of the time.