Road rage: Nine out of 10 people say they don’t have it. Actually, I have no idea if that’s true; I just made up the statistic to get your attention. But the subject has been on my mind a lot lately, since the portion of Main Street in East Hampton Village approaching The Star can bring out the worst in a lot of people. To wit: Wednesday morning.
So there I was, tooling along southbound somewhat above the speed limit while simultaneously quizzing my 12-year-old for an upcoming science test, when a shiny, newish Jeep — you know, the type with the annoying LED light bar — came up fast behind us. I began the usual merge at about the Presbyterian Church, as its driver signaled to make a left. Ah well, thwarted in his need for speed, he laid on his horn then tailgated the rest of the way until I turned into the driveway.
Time was, I might have tapped the brakes on my car to antagonize him, but I no longer do that. Generally. Instead, as he passed I offered a sarcastic gesture, though not the one you are thinking of, I am sure. He answered with the old standby one-finger salute and on he blazed. Whether he was steaming or laughing, there was no way for me to tell.
Addressing my passenger, I said that it was best not to get too heated up on the road when these things inevitably happen and to try to see the humor in the situation rather than get angry in return. Road rage can be dangerous and lead to a lot of bad things; just look at The Star’s police pages.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say that at my worst, my road rage index never got above an 8, though opinions on this may vary. Whatever the case, I would not, for example, follow another driver home, as an otherwise mild-mannered friend confessed he once did. I don’t remember the story exactly, but I believe it began on Madison Street in Sag Harbor and ended up south of the highway someplace in Sagaponack, thankfully without coming to blows.
Such confrontations can be embarrassing for all involved. Some years ago, again southbound on Main Street and being tailgated tightly then passed in a huff, I gestured to indicate the number three then made a quick one-inch sign with my thumb and index finger. Alas, this time I made eye contact with the other driver, who turned out to be my friend Shawn. Shawn appeared none too amused. He took it in stride eventually, but I do recall that the next time I saw him at the Talkhouse, he absolutely did not buy me a beer.