Thursday, August 25, 2022

Road Rage and Other Travel Stories

Idiot. Crazy. Asshole, the latter designation reserved for drivers who not just violate good driving norms but whose actions also imperil or just physically undermine my safe transit.

Perhaps you’ve seen the comic strip where kids tell their mother they learn more vocabulary when riding with their father. They’re exposed to words that would make a sailor blush is the way their father’s language would have been described in more genteel times.

Hardly a day goes by without another incident of road rage being reported. On Sunday the White Plains Daily Voice reported, “A Hudson Valley man was nabbed for alleged road rage after allegedly pulling a gun on another driver he had been tailgating.”

It is painfully obvious that civility has departed normal discourse and interaction among sizable segments of our society. It happens on the road between strangers and on streets between rival gangs.

Can I attribute it to Donald Trump? For sure, at least partly. Recall that during his rallies he would incite his faithful to manhandle any protesters. And, during debates with other Republicans, rather than score points on policy he would deprecate their physical characteristics. And he stalked Hillary Clinton during one of their debates.

When your leader opens the door to confrontation is it any wonder that the masses follow?

Now, I’m not so naive to exempt Democrats from boorish behavior, though I fervently believe those Dems that practice uncivil behavior are a small cadre of the party.

Republicans, no doubt, would quickly point to riots in Portland and elsewhere but without citing the cause, that usually being a problematic police killing of an unarmed black person for an incident, such as a broken car tail light, that usually would not result in a white person being stopped.

Those demonstrations were the direct result of years, decades, centuries of institutional abuse, not one-on-one interactions between individuals.

Road rage, on the other hand, seems to be just an outgrowth of depreciating respect for others. Sad times, indeed.

Uncivil Arizona: The height of uncivil behavior is still being played out in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Defying tradition, Trump and his minions have refused to acknowledge defeat.

If you’re interested in a deep look at how Republicans do not accept the reality of the last near two years, spend a few minutes reading an article from The Guardian profiling the Republican speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives who refused to cave in to Trump’s entreaties and threats to reverse Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona (

On the Road Again: Just back from a 600 mile roundtrip to Rockville, MD, made tolerably pleasurable by listening to different Sirius stations on the car radio.

I was intrigued by one of Sirius’ promos that lauded the construction of our interstate highway system (IHS) as mankind’s greatest public works project in history. That’s according to historians, said Sirius, which added a pitch for its entertainment network as a must-have traveling companion.

Yes, America has benefitted from our linked highways north and south, east and west. But I wonder, in context of tools and equipment available, as well as technical knowledge of their times and the financial and manpower resources that could be tapped, whether the aqueducts built by ancient Rome, or the roads spanning the Incan empire, or the Great Wall of China might surpass the IHS in greatness.

Perhaps the historians Sirius cited referred only to America’s public works. In that case, a good argument could be made for the construction of the Erie Canal (I’d have added the transcontinental railroad but that was a private endeavor).

What’s your opinion?

Road Kill: On May 24, with my three year lease on a Toyota Camry coming due in mid August, Gilda and I signed up for a 2022 plug-in hybrid Ford Escape. We knew about construction delays and a shortage of chips, but we felt good about the prospects of coinciding giving up the Camry with the delivery of the Escape.

Ha! Every two weeks or so a new email from Ford advises building our car would be delayed. The latest date given is September 19. It takes about a day to build a car, but then six weeks or so for it to be delivered to a dealership.

Ah, the delivery. Last week when talking with our Ford salesman he informed I had to choose a different dealership for delivery because his was closing down at the end of August. 

At least we had a vehicle identification number, he said. Customers who had not received a VIN would have to start the whole buying process over with, no doubt, a higher price tag now that they were back in the market.

What really galled me is that our salesman who worked hard for our business will not receive commission for the sale. Some stranger at the new dealership will have a bonanza dropped in his or her lap.

A Final Road Rage Note: Click on the link for a piquant take on the type of drivers one sees on the road: