Firstly, let me apologise for the picture. I don't mean to be deliberately rude. But it is an illustration that is relevant and depicts something that happened to me today.
Someone flicked me the bird. It's not the first time that it's happened and it probably won't be the last. What was different about today was that I flicked it back. This is not my normal reaction but boy, did that person deserve it.
Road rage. It is a thing. I have been in the car with other people who succumb to it; I have been in cars and been the victim of it. Flicking the bird is probably the mildest of its directly confrontational forms. It's certainly not as bad as taking a baseball bat to someone's lights at the next traffic lights because they cut you up, or tailgating somebody after they have displayed discourteous driving to teach them a lesson and intimidate them.
However, it is a way of showing disdain and disrespect to another road user and I take umbrage at it. I don't think it's necessary.
The times where I have been flicked the middle finger I can count on three fingers, aptly enough. One was by a truck driver with "truck nuts" (if you don't know what they are Google them) because I was not quick enough to turn into a car park to get out of his way.
The second time was a couple of months ago at a roundabout where a driver pulled out in front of me when it was my right of way, proceeded to block my path and then flicked the bird at me when I looked at him as I passed. I will admit to calling him an idiot, clearly enunciated as I went past him but his middle finger may have obscured his view of this.
The third time was today on the M4 motorway as I was returning home from having a wonderful lunch with my friend, Helen. The traffic was nose-to-tail and red lights were winking on and off as cars, trucks and vans alike inched forward. Ah, the Great British Traffic Jam.
I quickly called my husband to find out what was going on and he reported that the M4 was closed and as I was at the junction where the M4 joins the M5, that it would be a shrewd move to get off at this junction onto the M5.
And so, that's what I tried to do, only the cars to the left of me didn't want to let me in order for me to get off the motorway. This is a horrible situation to be in. You are desperately indicating that you want to join the lane but the cars that are currently there are possessive of their space and do not want you to join their happy little band! NO! KEEP OUT! How DARE you try to continue your journey in the same way as me? How DARE you think that I would let you in? Who do you think you are?
I'm not sure what happens in the fog of the small-minded motorist but I was disregarded by a steely faced woman with a neat bob in a silver hatchback first of all. I had to keep trying to make my way in because otherwise, I would miss the opportunity and so I tried again. The next car was a black Ford Kuga, driven by a middle aged male, who also did not let me in and then! And then! Had the temerity to flick the finger to me after not letting ME in!
Having already been thwarted by "Steely Bob", the indignity of having an insult thrown at me, albeit digitally, by an ignorant driver because I dared, DARED, to try and change lane threw me into an anger that has only been reserved for wrestling sessions with my boys when I have to go "She-Hulk" to get them off me.
I found myself flicking the finger and swearing, shouting F-Bombs and ranting about the unfairness of it all. Looking back, I am deeply ashamed. Truly. But I have to admit that part of me is also secretly supportive of my actions as in my opinion, he deserved to be given the bird back.
I was still talking to my husband at this point and you'll be pleased to know that I had the presence of mind to find out if he had me on speaker phone and whether the kids were around. They weren't. Although it may have been a case of closing the stable door after the horse had bolted, if you know what I mean.
The reason that I feel so hard done by is that I don't think that I deserved that middle finger salute. And I think that my indignation at being treated in this way was so strong that my body automatically reacted by reciprocating it. With knobs on (British expression which means that you did it with more gusto and enthusiasm than the original). And then needed to express it verbally too. I acted on an instinctive level because I was so mad in my righteousness.
Not my proudest moment but one which I can understand fully. It is also not an attitude that I would promote and as you will see, I soon resumed my normal cheery level-headed disposition.
As a result of his inconsideration, "Kuga Driver" now had the joy of me sitting behind him in a queue of traffic. You see, the driver behind him had infinitely more manners and I gave them a cheery wave of recognition as they allowed me to swap lanes. "Kuga Driver" should have been feeling very uncomfortable from this moment on as I was glowering at his reflection in his rear view mirror. My eyes were like seering lasers. He should at least have been feeling warmer. I doubt he took any notice at all! But it made me feel better.
And then, further ahead, a Jeep wanted to be let in too and again, the lane that I had now joined were preventing its passage. "Steely Bob" and "Kuga Driver" continued their reign of indifference to the plight of others.
But not me! No! I flashed my lights and left a space, the Jeep entered what I will now call my lane and rewarded me with the double flash of their hazard warning lights as a thank you, the international road users' indicator of gratitude to their fellow motorist.
I hope"Kuga Driver" saw this. He should have seen the flash of my lights in his rear view mirror and been curious as to why he was being flashed. Perhaps he thought I was trying to attract his attention. I hope he saw my act of generosity and thought long and hard about his selfish driving ways, examining his behaviour for its flaws and vowing to rectify them immediately for the good of all car driving mankind.
Wouldn't that be wonderful?
But I know he didn't. He will have continued on his merry way, oblivious to my fury and thinking to himself that he managed to get one over another driver with his lack of consideration.
Why is it that we act this way? Why is it seen as weakness to allow someone into a line of traffic? Why do we feel like we are being taken advantage of by being generous to someone else?
I feel like we share the roads. We all use them to get to where we've got to go. No-one has more ownership than another and we should all be courteous to other road users.
I am not of the school of thought where I feel like I am being tricked if I let someone in. My mindset is one of acquiescence and this means that we are all safer as a result. I don't want to be belligerent behind the wheel because that is a big heavy piece of metal that can inflict a lot of harm. I've seen what that does and I don't want any further part of that.
So, if you have the inclination to keep your place and not let someone in, think again. Think about what you are going to gain from taking that attitude. I think you'll find it's about six metres. Whereas if you let them in you may gain a cheery wave and a smile and I think that that is a much nicer reward.
Or even one of these below, everyone's favourite digital signal.
About the Creator
Mum, blogger, crafter, reviewer, writer, traveller: I love to write and I am not limited by form. Here, you will find stories, articles, opinion pieces, poems, all of which reflect me: who I am, what I love, what I feel, how I view things.
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!