Unfortunately, I have to set the scene before I can get to the ‘meat’ of my story.
A couple of weeks ago, I was traveling on a two-lane Interstate highway headed to Las Vegas. There were two lanes in my direction and two going the other way. In portions of the route, the north and southbound traffic lanes are divided, and in the particular portion I was on, there was about a fifty-yard divide between the lanes and there was about a fifteen-foot sloping drop from the highway. It was mid-afternoon and the roadway was fairly crowded.
The highway traffic moves at high rates of speed because it’s mostly a long stretch with very few on or off ramps. Because of this fact, it would be safe to say that most vehicles are traveling at 70 mph or better, most drivers are following the car ahead of them too closely, and frankly, it’s easy to become complacent while driving. There is nothing to look at except the wide-open spaces of the high desert and the huge expanse of sky.
This road is usually crowded with traffic going from Southern California to ‘Sin City.’ For all the factors I mentioned, there are frequently traffic collisions – and for those same reasons, they are often multi-vehicle and serious in nature.
So, I’m by myself driving to Vegas. I’ve got the radio on and I’m trying to think of a fabulous title for my next book. I’m in the left or ‘fast’ lane of the two lanes. This lane is also called the #1 lane and the lane to my right would be called the #2 lane. I’m between Baker, California and Las Vegas, and traffic is winding its way through and down the Halloran Summit.
I’m minding my own business when a white Nissan pulls even with me. As a former cop, having a vehicle side-by-side like that is a little uncomfortable…we were always aware of the possibility of someone pulling up next to us and taking a few shots. So, naturally I glance over to take a look at the driver. I can’t see much of her face because she’s wearing a big floppy hat and her head is down. What I can see is that she is a woman of at least forty and she has dark curly hair, and she’s wearing driving gloves. She too is driving alone.
Now, we’re still parallel to one another and, all of a sudden, this woman starts moving over into my lane! I hit my horn while trying to slow my car and I’m precariously close to the fifteen-foot drop-off to my left. I can hear rocks and gravel being thrown into the undercarriage of my car. I’ve got my arms locked to keep the wheel straight and prevent me from falling down the embankment. The woman veers back into the #2 lane and she drops her speed.
I don’t mind telling you I was pretty shaken. There is no doubt in my mind if I’d gone off that ledge, I would have rolled my SUV. Thankfully, the big Dodge pick-up truck that was behind me didn’t rear-end me.
I’m sure my speed had slowed and I looked into my rear view mirror to see if I could see the errant driver. I couldn’t. She’s still in the #2 lane, but in my blind spot.
I’m trying to look at my right passenger mirror to see if there is any damage because I’m not positive that we didn’t actually collide. I don’t see any damage, but what I DO see the woman in the white Nissan pulling along side of me. I’m stunned to see that as she hurriedly drives past me she is angrily flipping me off!
I yelled at her, “Are you crazy?” knowing she can’t hear me. I threw in a cuss word too. Oh, and you know what she had in her other hand besides the steering wheel…her cell phone.
I was steaming for about fifteen minutes after that. It wasn’t the fact she’d almost run me off the road – although that DID tick me off. It was the one-fingered salute she’d had the nerve to display that really infuriated me. She’d almost killed me and THAT was her reaction?
I’m not a perfect driver and I’ve made some bone-headed moves myself, but on those rare occasions when that does happen, I make a point to pantomime an apology to the driver I’ve wronged. I can’t imagine doing something wrong and then blaming someone else. But I’ve been running into that situation a lot more lately.
What about you? Have you ever had someone do something wrong to you and then blame you, or go on the offensive with you?
Be safe out there!