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Humor July 2018

Road Rage, Robe Rage and Overload Rage

By Sharon Love Cook

It was a lengthy wait. In fact, it appeared the elderly driver was trying to make up his mind. Maybe he was thinking: Is it Pepto Bismol that I’m after? As a senior often overwhelmed by indecision, I could identify.

We’ve become an angry nation. When I hear stories about road rage, I shake my head. How can people get so infuriated they end up swinging at each other — or worse? I assume they’re impatient type A people. Their inflated egos won’t let anyone get the better of them, on the road and off. Ignore them!

That was how I viewed raging drivers — until I had an encounter with one. It happened recently on Beverly’s (Massachusetts) Elliot Street Speedway, aka: Route 62. I was behind a white-haired driver with a continuously flashing right directional. Periodically he’d slow down, as if to turn. Then he’d change his mind and continue. Finally, he braked at a CVS entrance. I waited while he turned. It was a lengthy wait. In fact, it appeared the elderly driver was trying to make up his mind. Maybe he was thinking: Is it Pepto Bismol that I’m after? As a senior often overwhelmed by indecision, I could identify.

The line of cars behind me dutifully waited. Yet the driver directly behind me wasn’t so patient. She blasted her horn, loud. I turned and saw a mad woman shaking her fist and pounding the dashboard. Did she think I was responsible for the delay?

All eyes were on the white-haired driver who appeared lost in thought, gazing at the CVS building. Maybe it was Milk of Magnesia he needed. He donned a pair of glasses and studied a sheet of paper.

The infuriated driver wrenched her steering wheel and swerved into the left lane. As she passed me, she leaned on her horn while flashing a hand gesture common to Massachusetts drivers. I was shocked! What did I have to do with the hold-up?

When the slo-mo driver finally rolled into the CVS entrance, I accelerated. Ahead of me, the demon driver weaved in and out of lanes, her tires screeching. When she was forced to stop at a red light, I moved in behind her. She sat hunched, gripping the wheel and revving her engine. Was she in labor and racing for the hospital? Had she gotten word her house was being burglarized?

I didn’t have time to ponder those scenarios. When the car ahead of me turned into a shopping center, I followed. Coming abreast of the crazed woman, I sounded my horn and — I’m not proud to admit — returned her gesture. It’s not something I do, but in this case the blacktop bully had gotten under my skin. Had she followed me, I was prepared to continue driving, all the way to Bangor, Maine.

Rage is not limited to the roadways. As a kid, I witnessed something I call “robe rage.” It happened in the summer, at Long Beach in Cape Ann, Massachusetts,  where I grew up. Early mornings, a barefoot neighbor, wearing his bathrobe, would search for the newspaper in the tall beach grass fronting his cottage. He’d instructed the “paper boy,” as they were called, to throw it on his     porch. Maybe the boy had lousy aim, or maybe the neighbor didn’t tip him. In any event, the paper often ended up in the spiky grass.

Things were laid-back in those days. Kids and dogs ran free. As a result, the dogs “did their business” wherever they chose, including the tall grass. That morning the barefoot neighbor, searching for his newspaper, realized that fact too late. He raged —at the freewheeling dogs and errant paper boys.

This brings us to something I call “overload rage.” It’s the response from shoppers at the “12 and under” supermarket express line. Those of us who observe this limit — even going so far as to return a can of cat food because it’s over the acceptable count — become enraged at those who don’t. Yet no one says a word to these selfish shoppers unloading their overflowing carts.

Let’s employ the “see something, say something” motto. Speak up!

You go first.

 

Sharon Love Cook of Beverly, Mass., is the author of the Granite Cove Mysteries and the recent Phantom Baby. She can be reached at s This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .