Dude! It was just a merge!
To the guy in the Pinto wagon who followed me twenty miles across New Jersey. Oh sure, when I first realized that you really were angry, and you were honking and shouting at me (with your window up), I thought I should pull off the road and kick your ass. My second reaction? This guy is obviously nuts, and might have a gun or other weapon, or at least, be someone who would get some weird satisfaction from smashing my window with a brick. Yea, that would be fair retribution for pulling ahead of somebody when the two lanes merge.
But most of my male defensive rage disappeared not long after you stopped honking your horn – which I remind you, you must have had going for a mile or two at least, from one backed up stop light to the next, down 206. So how could you work so hard to hang onto your anger? I started to become rational—even compassionate—very quickly. You must have had a pretty bad morning, or a pretty bad life, up to that point, to be so angry with a total stranger who just pulled in front of you at a merge. And then to follow me? And glare at every intersection? You had plenty of opportunity to pull ahead and get where you were going faster, if that was really what was important. But you stayed angry, and kept shouting obscene threats to your closed window, and kept following me. I got to experience a fear. What if this guy is more than a little nuts? What if he’s a Psycho-killer??
Then my survival instinct kicked in. If you were going to follow and attack me, sucker, I was gonna make damn sure you’d pay for your insane craziness. Oh yea. You stay behind me? I’ll pull into a Starbucks parking lot and see how committed you are. I’ll wait until you pull in behind me, then I…do something. Drive away, run you over, call the cops, or the baristas. But you know, once you start thinking about this, letting your imagination run, you can just go to incredible extremes with it. What if this guy gets my license number? Manages to find out where I live? And so on.
At that point I figured it out. Take the iPhone, take good picture. Get a record of the guy’s face, of his car. And I did. And make sure he sees me taking the picture. For extra measure, I might tweet it. Internet to the rescue. Sort of.
Because really, he was in the slow lane. I was in the fast lane. The lanes merged. He pulled forward, I pulled forward. He backed off his accelerator, I didn’t. It was just a merge. Dude! It was just a merge!!