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Ducking glass bird, thumb in the ditch!

by effenheimer at 06:01 PM on February 01, 2002

I am an awesome driver. Not just as far as stunts and wheelies are concerned but in the little things. The two-second following rule, turning into a skid, pumping the breaks ó all good especially in bad weather.

Even when the weather isnít horrid, I rock behind the wheel. I use my turn signal, stop BEFORE the crosswalks ó not in them ó and I never cut people off if I can help it.

Energy exists as either wave or particle. Waves and particles disrupt or change other waves and particles, which is why leaving your television on all night keeps the ghosts away. That is basic science.

There is another kind of bad voodoo energy that seems incapable of disruption and that is road rage. Sure this topic was REALLY hot a few years ago, but people are up to some serious sick shlt these days. For some reason or other people are just ungodly mad about something. Who can blame them? We live in uncertain times. Mad bombers aside, this economy is no picnic and who likes to feel like chattel?

I would like to claim to be above any and all road rage, but I am not. In fact, my fingers hurt from all of the flipping off Iíve been doing lately. I think Iím getting carpal tunnel syndrome and may soon have to wear a special brace when I drive.

The problem is the force I use. In order to signal oneís disgust at other drivers with authority, one must first brace the middle finger against the thumb and then with a flicking motion move the middle finger into the full upright position.

This gives that most offensive of digits a sort of lightening quickness.

Itís a kind of magic that makes the finger almost appear from nowhere.

I donít live far from where I work, in fact, I live in a cave in the Loess Hills, entering and exiting only under the cover of darkness in my jet-powered Caprice Classic... not unlike Batman.

It takes me five minutes to get to and from work, yet in that time, I will invariably come across drivers who get livid at the slightest perceived failure of other drivers to conform to their Utopian idea of traffic flow.

It isnít just drivers. Last week this otherwise lovely octogenarian gentleman had a conniption fit because I stopped a bit quickly in front of his crosswalk. I didnít enter it, just stopped quickly.

He stood looking far off to the south, avoiding my gaze as I tooted my horn letting him know I was more than happy to allow him to cross.

He WAS there first and I believe that is his right. I tooted my horn pulling him gently from his reverie. A toot that said, hey, I care about your health and welfare on this chilly day as opposed to sustained "eff you, granpa move your ass."

Then he said something while waving his arms I couldnít quite make out that sounded like ďducking glass bird, thumb in the ditch?!Ē

Needless to say, I was stunned and wondered what a ducking glass bird might be.

Of course, I flipped him off. Didnít want to, felt I owed it to him.

That was when I felt the pop in my knuckle that my doctor, a famous Jordanian biathlete, said was the worst case of repetitive stress disorder he had seen outside of one particular baboon at the Henry Doorly Zoo known as Mr. Bates.

I would have to take it easy.

On the way out of the parking lot, his nurse cut me off. She knew what she was doing. So I raised the back of my hand, lowered my thumb and pinkie finger and shouted, ďRead between the lines, Florence Nightingale!Ē

On the way home, I was tailgated by a red SUV with vanity plates that read ďJETSKRS.Ē I wondered what ďjetsuckersĒ was supposed to mean as I applied my break light to no avail. A little trick I learned in driverís ed circa 1984, not actually slowing down, just giving the impression that if I were to stop ... watch out!

Then jetsuckers passed me in the turning lane of North Broadway as I was about to make my appropriately signaled lane changer doing 50 m.p.h. in a 35 m.p.h. zone. I know because after I missed my turn I had nothing better to do than follow jetsucker, gauge jetsuckers speed and write down jetsuckers license plate number to turn in to the cops for reckless driving.

Two seconds, folks, itís not too much to ask.

Like most things, road rage is a symptom of a greater problem. Itís like attention deficit disorder for adult drivers ó a critical impatience combined with far too much horsepower and an insatiable desire to control the road. Perhaps Ritalin is the answer.

Itís as though life, being an uncontrollable mess most days, should at least be serene on the streets and when it is not, artificially empowered by huge engines and a ton of metal, we become a tool for vengeance. Well, a tool anyway.

Recently, a truck driver smashed another truck driver between the rig and the other truckerís after a road rage altercation. This is not simple rage, this is sadistic revenge fantasy stuff for people who spend WAY too much time on the road.

We could all advocate taking it easier but that is not usually an option for Americans. We like to go and go fast lest we feel unproductive. So it goes.

Think before you get in your car and think twice before you get mad. Donít take things personally and try not to be unreasonable on either side of the fence. Going too fast or too slow are equally likely to irritate others.

And remember that while flipping people off feels good for a little while, it ultimately leaves you feeling empty inside, distances you from others and can tear the ligaments in your finger if you do it too hard.

Next time: Stories from when I drove a cab in Houston, Texas revealing two or three more kinds of people I hate.

comments (3)

wow, thanks - that's a good tip about fast flipping. i never thought of using the thumb to speed up the flip. i was practicing while i read. btw - i was never more proud of my white-haired old mother than when she came home and announced she had given another driver the finger. go, mom!

by lavonne at February 1, 2002 6:48 PM

you know, i've been practicing that finger flick too -- it really gives some emphasis to the gesture, but i can feel it being less than good for the tendons.

by kd at February 2, 2002 12:53 AM

Eff, that's one of the funnier things I have ever read. Ducking glass bird! Too beautiful man.

by Ezy at January 13, 2003 12:14 PM

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