February 8, 2017 – I saw a little birdie today. It wasn’t pretty, didn’t have feathers, and was attached to one unable to drive his car with dignity.
I was in a 35 mile per hour area, and I got behind a guy going about 17 miles per hour – half of the posted limit. I did not honk. I did not race around him and burn rubber. I did not call out obscenities. I did not shake my hands in anger or give him any rude gestures. After waiting for a safe clearing to pass him, I was looking as I started to come up next to his car to see if he was suffering from a medical condition, such as a stroke or seizure.
Turns out, he was suffering from a very common medical condition – angry dude in a car. I thought I saw from the side of his car that he was flying a birdie at me – right on the glass of the car window. I slowed down so I could see better. Yep, a single finger up and flipping me off with a scowl on his pasty face.
What did I do in return? I gave him 3 fingers, and then 5 fingers. His expression and finger didn’t change, so as I began to move ahead of him (as the many cars suddenly behind me were delighted to see), I did it again – giving him first 3 and then 5 fingers. Why? The speed limit was 35. I’m not sure he could understand that, since he had no reason to be angry with me to begin with and we’d passed at least one such sign already.
A few years ago, I was on a semi-country road with the posted speed limit of 45 miles per hour. Normally, people are behind me pushing me to pick up the pace while I’m going 50 or illegally passing me, but on this particular day, I was behind the slow guy. At first he was only going 40, but by the last half mile, he was barely doing 15 miles per hour. This entire time, we were in a no passing zone. I didn’t pass for a second reason: fear this person was encountering a medical condition.
During this time, I did not shake my hands in angry gestures, honk my horn, or cuss him out. I got my phone out in case I needed to call 911 for help.
Yet, when we neared the next intersection, he slowed further to stop at the stop sign and even turned on his right turn signal. I was going straight and was next to the slow car. I looked over to see if the driver was even able to sit up or in need of help … and it was an old pasty guy who flipped the bird at me while clearly spitting unkind profanities my way. I could only hear mumbling through my closed windows with the audio book playing, and I’m grateful.