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 drizzlingand 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 gentle man

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, shaking his head, scowl on his face, as if to say... what?  How dare I not take advantage of his seemingly courteous gesture?  When doing so 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.  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 exchange happens with women drivers, too, but it never ends with them proverbially flipping me off with an angry wave. I am left believing it is some kind of chauvinistic ritual from the era we now know as Mad Men.

I used to wonder how the show got its name.  Now 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!


Lee said...

Another ol annoying bossy boots. Just blow the ol coot a kiss and smile. It'll make them crazy (crazier).

smalltownme said...

We were stopped at a two way stop. The car to our right did NOT have a stop sign, yet stopped anyway and waved us to go. We did not go, fearing that he would change his mind and run into us. I just wish people would observe the rules of right of way. One of my pet peeves.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I've been hit by another car after being waved across by someone, so I would DEFINITELY decline that offer.

Coffeypot said...

I just shut my eyes, stomp the gas and go. If I don't hear metal, then I know I made it and it's okay to open the peepers.

Glennis said...

Oh, Seattle is famous for the too-polite driver! A 4-way stop sign in Seattle is a nightmare - no one knows who is supposed to go!

Our two lane rural road sometimes has this problem where I have to make a left turn into traffic, and some 'Good Samaritan' stops and waves me on, meanwhile the guy behind him is pulling around to his right and if I went they'd smack right into me.

slow panic said...

That drives me crazy too. and people do drive like maniacs this time of year. I recently signed up for Amazon Prime. expensive yes -- but ordering stuff and not having to go out and pick it up in this crazy madness is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Here the only drivers who do that are usually driving trucks hauling really big trailers so I take the "go ahead" since they take twice as long to move through. But no one else is that "wavey."

Susan said...

I do agree. It is an agressive sort of behavior yet it doesn't seem to counterbalance the aggressive/agressive type like the guy in the Costco parking lot who demanded his right of way even though I was half way out of a parking space. He honked until I pulled back in.

Rachel Cotterill said...

Weird. I don't drive, so I've never seen this - but you get something a bit similar with opening doors and whatnot. I find it easier to give in (but of course, with doors it's much less dangerous).

JCK said...

I'm hoping your Christmas was light on Mad Men and heavy on good things.

Happy New Year!