Saturday, December 17, 2011
driving pet peeve number 328: aggressive courtesy
Like most people, I find the holiday season one of such mixed feelings. On the one hand there's the season of love and giving and Santa and of course the baby bejeebus (credit, Hokgardner), all combining to bring out our kindest selves.
On the other hand there is Christmas shopping and navigating a crowded parking lot. This recent spate of frantic beat-the-rush browsing has brought to the fore one of my driving pet peeves: Aggressive courtesy.
Or is that, courteous aggression?
Not sure. I'll let you decide.
Yesterday was the latest and a typical example. I'm in my car wanting to make a left into a parking lane. There is an oncoming black truck with darkish windows. It's drizzling* and his windshield is foggy. With my blinker on, I'm waiting for him to pass by me, but he's not moving, he's ... what? Waiting for me to cross in front of him? Then I see movement through the windshield. I believe he is signaling to let me pass. Not quite sure so I sit. I don't want to take the risk, I can't really see for sure and anyway, he has the right of way. If our fenders crunch insurance is gonna make me pay. So I wave him on.
But now he waves harder. Oh I see, another man driver insisting on playing the gentleman. But I wave him on, thanks but no thanks. He proceeds, gunning it. And now he drives by me, waving his hand in a display of disgust, hand turned toward his face, jerking upwards, looking down at me, shaking his head, scowl on his face, as if to say... what? How dare I not take advantage of his seemingly courteous gesture? Even though doing would require that I trust a complete stranger, in the rain, in a monster truck the color of evil?
I have a hard time shaking off these exchanges. They always involve a man and he is usually alone, often at 4-way stops. It seems as if these courteously aggressive drivers insist on asserting some sort of power or, why else the angry gesturing when I don't comply? Does a generous offering in a vehicle by a man (some men) demand the woman assent? Because this you go... no, you go exhange happens with women drivers, too, but it never ends with them proverbially flipping me off with an angry wave. So I don't get it. I am left assuming it is some kind of chauvanistic ritual left over from the not-so-long-ago era we now know as Mad Men.
I used to wonder how the show got its name. Now I'm pretty sure I know.
*Yes, we in the land of worst-drought-in-history (yes, I blogged about it, here and taken pictures of it, here) have been getting rain. Several days of it. Ground is soaked. Thank you, thank you, thank you Mother Nature!