March 1997

I can't think of a single time when he has ever let it goThere’s nothing like a little road rage to get your adrenaline flowing. We were heading home in the Mercedes one night on the Blue Route in Pennsylvania in the pouring rain. Lou was driving in a middle lane, doing a little faster than the speed limit when a car came up behind us flashing its headlights. Lou cocked his head as he regarded the situation in the mirror, but simply stated, “I don’t know where he thinks I can go.” There was a fair amount of traffic in the right lane, so he didn’t turn on his directional and try to move over, and just kept going at the same speed with the flow of traffic in the lane we were in. The car behind us got up close, tailgating our bumper, and again flashed the headlights. In the mirror, I could see it was a large vehicle, like a van. I could also see that what the driver was doing had really pissed off Lou, who proceeded to slow the car down. Anjelica was sleeping in a car seat in the back, and I softly asked Lou to just let the guy go. He ignored me, and the other driver stayed on our tail as our car went slower, then faster, then Lou suddenly slammed hard on the brakes. Lou wore a wry smile, but now, I was the one who was pissed; I asked him again to please let it go, reminding him that Anjelica was in the car. I watched in my side view mirror as the van struggled to not hit us, dropped way back and stayed there for a while, then moved over into the right lane and accelerated. I kept my head facing straight forward but peered out of the corner of my eye to watch what was going on, yet still avoid making eye contact so I could ignore whatever gesture was likely to follow. But what I saw out of the corner of my eye made me quickly turn to look straight at the van driver, and into the barrel of a shotgun pointed right at me. I shouted, “He’s got a gun!” Without hesitation, Lou once again hit the brakes, and this time, it was our car that dropped back. We got up close behind the van and I wrote down the license plate number and details about the vehicle. We luckily had a mobile phone in the car; I called the police, gave them the information about the incident, and updates on our ever-changing location as we followed the vehicle. At one point, the other driver pulled onto the shoulder, so we also stopped on the side of the road, far behind him. We could see a police car across the highway with its flashing lights on, maneuvering around to our side. Then the van took off again; I stayed on the phone with the dispatcher, as Lou followed the van off an exit ramp and onto a dark side road. Then we saw first one, then two, then three… it seemed about five police cars eventually converged on the vehicle, and it pulled over to the side of the road. The police approached the vehicle with their guns drawn and ordered the driver out of the car. As he exited the car with his hands behind his head, I prayed that I was right about what I had seen. He was handcuffed and placed in the back seat of a police car, and I watched as the officers pulled two rifles out of his van. Simultaneously relieved and infuriated to see the firearms, I jumped out of our car and bolted over to the police car and yelled at the cuffed van driver, demanding an explanation for how he dared to point a gun at my daughter and me. I imagine he didn’t hear a word, and was glad to be behind the glass, safe from the raving madwoman.

We went to the police station to give our report, and were told the other guy’s side of the story. He claimed it was all Lou’s fault, saying that he was driving normally when Lou suddenly hit the brakes, causing him to also quickly brake, causing his hunting rifle to fall from the back seat and out of its case. He says it was a coincidence that he happened to be picking it up and handling it as he was passing us on the right. I guess he just happened to be sneering right at me at the time as well. If nothing else, he’ll be without his guns for a while. A man without a gun is like… umm … just a whole lot safer for everyone.

These stupid road rage incidents make me crazy. I don’t think it’s necessarily Lou’s fault that they get started. I believe there are a bunch of angry drivers just looking for someone to join their little games, and Lou seems to always be suited up ready to play. I really don’t need to get drawn into other people’s drama. Who cares if the other asshole wins? What is winning, anyway? They get to go ahead of you in a merge. They get to pass you. They get to give you the finger. They get away with flashing their headlights. They get away with cutting you off. They get the parking spot you saw first. Who cares? Lou cares. As do many other guys who drive around with too much testosterone in their blood stream. I can always feel it coming, too. Something stupid happens on the road, and it’s like a shotgun at the start of a race, or the ring of the bell sounding a round of boxing, and the match is on. Every time, I beg Lou to just let it go, especially when Anjelica is in the car. But I can’t think of a single time when he has ever let it go.

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