Reno, NV) – We have had the first patch of “dark cloud” on our trip around the country… a run-in with road rage.
The tale begins up in Susanville, CA – that’s where we departed about 1 PM Monday mto head down to Reno.
What was not clear – either from the online services or from the signs – was that there would be a half-hour wait about a third of the way to Reno because of road construction. A pilot car was in use and the back-up, by the clock, cost us an honest half-hour.
I don’t know if you’ve spent much time idling in a car when it’s 97 outside and you have the A/C on, but it is somewhat frustrating. There is nothing you can do, no reasonable alternate routes. And apparently this kind of delay does set some people off…
After we finally got going, we drop for maybe 15-minutes when there was another delay: The road was down to a single lane.
Since I was in the right lane, which was closing (complete with the orange barrels, I flipped on the turn blinker and checked the traffic.
The left lane ahead was slowing but I had room – the only traffic behind was a pick-up truck about 10-12 car lengths back. I made my move, paying close attention to the now braking left lane traffic ahead./
Then I look in my mirror – and the pickup has obviously speeded way up and had to apply heavy braking to keep from rear-ending us.
That didn’t set well with the driver of the pickup – who in turn flipped into the closing (less than half lane by now) right lane and proceeded to aggressively try to force us off the road.l
I sized up the situation – and stomped on the brakes.
Now the driver of the pickup stops completely, gets out of his truck and starts coming back towards us.
About here, he looked around and saw a cop car on the closed section of pavement just ahead…so he jumps in his truck…pulls up 300 feet, jumps out of the truck and stops again – getting out of his truck which stopped traffic – and goes overs to yell at the cop about my driving.
To the credit of the Nevada State Patrol, the office firmly instructed the pickup driver back into his car and on his way…and seeing this, I pulled over behind the NSP car to explain my side of the story.
With adrenaline now pumping like crazy and hyperventilating a bit, I explained what had happened to the office. He was incredibly cool.
Yes, turns out they have a lot of road rage cases like this. “Hot day, construction back-up..we get too many of these…” he told me.
After chatting for a few minutes, we went on our way…only to have the big insulin hit show up and nearly pass out…so I pulled over and let Elaine drove. I needed to chill for a while.
(I don’t do well when crazy people stop their trucks and come at my vehicle in a threatening manner… Perhaps it was a lesson from some aspect of Universe trying to teach me something: Remember we had the discussion about whether we should travel armed or un-armed on the trip?)
All’s well that ends well. We got to where we were going and that was that. I took two baby aspirin, though: Stressful events in elderly people (which we is, dammit) can set off ugly secondary things, so it doesn’t hurt to be proactive.
A couple of shots of liquid nerve restorer at our destination, some food, and10-hours of sleep – back ready for anything.
Bottom lines for us is that no matter how safely and carefully we drive, there will always be someone who – when you have plenty of room to safely make a lane change – will speed up and try to cut you off – and if you persist in the change (as I did facing a closing lane) they will be pissed because they can quite literally, as the officer explain, jump over to aggressive behavior.
Now let’s suppose that instead of one driver, there had been a real reason for a whole bunch of people to be on the road at one time. Something like a “dirty bomb” from a terrorist group, ort what have you.
In that kind of situation – where we were incredibly lucky to have an NSP officer right there – then before getting underway from a home location, yes, that might be a time when considering going armed would make sense.
Road rage is a mental health indicator of society at large. And since the world is (as the Ecuador ExPat reminds us) going crazier, it should come as no surprise that people at “not playing nicely together” as we did once-upon-a-time when the country was more sane.
Insurance comp0anies are recognizing the problem, too. Progressive Insurance, for example, has this page.
And worse? Two stats from this source: 2% of all drivers admit to trying to run another vehicle off the road and 37% of road rage cases involve a fire arm. Toss in 218 murders over a seven year study period and the case for a CHP *(concealed handgun permit) gets stronger.
Next trip we take? It will be in the plane if we still have it. Or, maybe we will just stay home. Fly commercial? Yuck.-
In the meantime, I’m still 50+ years since a teenage speeding ticket: We simply set the cruise control 2-3 MPH over the posted speed and except for trucks, everything about half the traffic p[asses us…we pass the other half.
One other notable from out trip:
Last time through this section of the country, we came through the Hat Creek fire just after it was put out. This was back in 2014 and there’s YT video of it.
A couple of years later the brush in the fire area is already waist-high. All making sure there is plenty of fuel for the next fire when it comes along.
Should we have the discussion about natural-source fires when talking about global warming?
Write when you get rich,