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COMMENTARY:

Crude, Rude and Socially Unacceptable

by LYNDA LAMBERT
A car came around the curve too wide and too fast. I had to slam on my brakes, because I knew if I kept going forward, she would definitely hit me. I hit the horn once to alert her to my presence, but she kept coming, so I laid on it.
Today was Saturday; yet I went to the mall. I went at 3 p.m., hoping against hope that the hordes would have dissipated. No such luck.

Making my way round and round the parking garage with its 2-way up/downs, I held my breath a couple of times as SUVs came swooping around the curves. But it wasn’t until I was almost to where I wanted to be that I blew my horn.

A car came around the curve too wide and too fast. I had to slam on my brakes, because I knew if I kept going forward, she would definitely hit me. I hit the horn once to alert her to my presence, but she kept coming, so I laid on it.

She missed me not by inches, but by a whisper.

I think I said, "Thank God", breathed a sigh of relief and was getting ready to move again, when I realized she’d stopped. I looked up.

"F**k you, bitch!" she screamed out her window.

I’d love to tell you that I replied, "Have a nice day to you, too," as I have in other circumstances—such as this when someone is being crude, rude and socially unacceptable. But the truth is, it just happens too often. I wasn’t in the mood to be ironic, so I said, "Oh, f**k you, too, moron." I didn’t scream it, just said it in an exasperated tone of voice—just loud enough so she could hear—and put my car into gear, shaking my head.

I was astounded to see in my rear view mirror, as I pulled away, that she was getting out of her car.

"You better go, bitch! I’ll kick your...." I didn’t hear what she was going to kick, but I could imagine.

This was no teenager, but a full-grown woman. What did she really think she was going to do to me? Part of me wished I’d cared enough to stop the car and deck her. But the truth is, I’ve never hit anyone in my life, nor am I sure I could except in defense of my life. So, it’s just as well I moved on.

What does it buy you to be so angry all the time, but an early grave from too much stress?
But I honestly don’t know why people act this way. What does it buy you to be so angry all the time, but an early grave from too much stress?

I know for a fact that if I had been she, if I had stopped, it would have been to apologize for scaring the bejesus out of some old woman. I know it because, just like everyone in the world, on occasion, I am the moron, and I have smiled, and waved, and attempted to apologize for my mistake.

I cannot say that I am totally a nice person, however. Part of me wishes fervently that as she stood there, screaming after me, another car, driving as recklessly as she had, had come around the corner and crumpled her bumper—I’m in favor of poetic justice. I’ve only seen it happen once, though.

More than 35 years ago, my then-husband and I were taking a nice drive around the winding roads of Loch Raven Reservoir north of Baltimore, when suddenly this guy in a little sports car came roaring up behind us, crossed over the double yellow line and passed us at about 70 miles an hour. We both wondered if he would end up in the lake; there was no way he could take those curves at those speeds.

About 20 minutes later, as we reached the developments on Greenspring Avenue, we saw him again. He had not made the corner, but had shot up the grassy embankment like a skier off a ski jump, and landed—yes, this is totally true—he had landed in the top of someone’s cherry tree. He was unharmed and sitting in the car, looking around, as if he didn’t understand.

Garey and I laughed about it as we putt-putted by in our old VW Bug. And I laugh about it still. If only every rude, unsafe driver could meet with a similar punishment, life would be the better for it. (I do still wonder, however: how did they get him down?)
Lynda Lambert, a college English instructor, is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.



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This story was published on October 9, 2006.