Driving is supposed to be a non-contact sport, and that’s what selfish, speeding drivers count on when they zip in and out of traffic. But every once in awhile, for no particularly good reason, I feel the need to “man up” and set one of these clowns straight.

At least that’s what I was thinking while driving down a two-lane boulevard the other day. That’s when I happened across a gigantic electronic message board blinking “right lane closed ahead” followed by the familiar orange pylons and barrels, forcing right-lane drivers into the left lane.

Between the blinking sign and the first pylon was 150 feet, and the road was straight. It didn’t take a brain surgeon to realize it was simply a matter of seconds before the two lanes would become one.

Most drivers slowed and began politely queuing to move left, leaving an expanse of open road ahead in the right lane.

But you know what happens when a pending traffic jam resides next to an open lane created by law-abiding, considerate drivers — inevitably, a driver whose time is more valuable than ours speeds past the line and cuts back into the open lane at the last-possible minute.

In my rear-view mirror, I could see the scenario unfolding as I plodded slowly along in the left lane, waiting to reach the final merge point. And as I saw the self-important motorist race by the people behind me and then arrive at the bottom of the traffic “Y” just as I did, a primal instinct took over: I’m going to teach this guy a lesson that being a jerk just doesn’t pay anymore.

I was driving the family car I’ve never much liked, so I was willing to risk a bit of plastic to make a point (hope my insurance guy’s not reading this). So I kept going, and so did the jerk, both of us arriving at the single passable lane at precisely the same time, with my car a full hood and windshield wiper ahead of his.

Proper street etiquette allows the car in the lead to continue, with the trailing car politely braking and waiting his/her turn. But this guy was having none of that: Instead, he gunned his engine and continued on his collision course with me.

Clearly, one of us would have to yield, and darn it, this time it wasn’t going to be me because I’m sick and tired of letting ego-maniacs get the drop on me and it was time for someone to take a stand and show these blowhards they couldn’t have their way every time and they needed to have some respect for other people and just because they wanted to use their car as a weapon they shouldn’t be allowed to do so …

It all came down to this: He gave me that familiar one-finger salute to indicate, I imagine, that my strategy wasn’t having a reforming impact on his life. Then he gunned the car, slipping his rear bumper past my front by an inch or so, racing into the line and, for good measure, waving his impact finger out the window one more time just to make sure I would continue to enjoy my day.

Well, I thought: Lesson taught. I certainly showed him that he’d better not try that stunt again. Or else.


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