Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Road rage on the school run

I have just suffered from a bit of road rage. I'm not entirely sure if I came out of the encounter entirely well, either.

I was on my way home from taking Rosie to school at 1pm, when I encountered a shiny black car coming towards me. I slowed, but realised he was right by a large passing place, so I carried on, assuming he'd pull over. He didn't. He carried on. We stopped and eventually, with much huffing and puffing he reversed alongside the passing place, which was on HIS side of the road and beckoned me to pull off into it, so we would pass right side to right side.

Now, there are not many things that annoy me more than being told to pass right side to right side. I was brought up in Pony Club and at riding schools and on ponies you always pass left to left. That goes for cars too, especially in Britain, where we drive on the left. So I said no.

We sat and contemplated each other for a while. He waved for me to pull over to the right. I indicated back that I would drive on the correct side of the road, while HE pulled into his side of the road. Then he got out of his car.

If he had jumped out of his car and run down the road towards me, I think I would have wound up my window and reversed out of trouble. But he didn't. He climbed laboriously out of his car (which served him right for pulling in so close to MY side of the road!) and limped towards me. As he got to the front of my car he made very big and obvious gesticulations that I should pull over onto the pulling off place. So I stuck my head out of my car window and said (in my best Margot Leadbetter voice):

"In this country we drive on the left. I will pass you on the left, if you pull in."

He approached the window and replied (in a heavily German accented voice): "Since you made no effort to back up for me..."

"You were nearest the passing place!" I objected.

"Zo I zinc the least you can do is pull over for me," he continued.

"In this country we drive on the left!" I shrieked at his departing back.

He turned, shocked. (Perhaps he heard me the second time!) I pulled over into the passing place. I could see this was not an argument I was going to win. I had said my piece and by that time I was shaking with rage.

He seems to be the sort of man who thinks he can push 'little women' around. I have reversed for him on many occasions. He has forced me to pass him on the right hand side before too. I think that, since the passing place was a tiny bit muddy, he wanted to keep his shiny black car clean and it would be okay, as far as he was concerned, for me to get my car dirty.

And I have already been berated by my husband for saying this, but he was old enough to have been in the last war on the other side. He was certainly looking as if he wanted to order a firing squad for me! He wanted me to obey. I didn't want to and I am still angry that he made me obey eventually.

Look! He's made me go all non-PC! I know really, as a responsible citizen one is supposed to allow people like him their little foibles. The Barefoot Doctor says in such situations you should smile and allow the person to carry on and do their thing. But Barefoot's a Buddhist and I'm not.

What, I wonder, will happen next time I meet him on the road? I may have appeared racist towards him, but I didn't know he was foreign until he spoke. But we DO drive on the left, he SHOULD have pulled over on his side of the road.

Brian says he's going to get me the biggest 4x4 we can afford. Something with bull bars: a Nissan Patrol or a big Mitsubishi. I asked for a tank and was told to get my head out of the Second World War.

It seems, when confronted with a German, I turned into Basil Fawlty. Oops!


  1. Oh PM, I can just FEEL how infuriating that must have been. I once had a standoff like that - and was in such a bloody mood that I turned off my engine and got out a book and started reading! yeah, if not buy, borrow a HUGE truck and try to pass him through a vast puddle of very muddy mud. Nasty man. I hate bad manners - particularly on country roads.

  2. I would have done the same as you. Living in the country as I am sure you do I often meet people who cannot or will not reverse when they are the nearest to the parking place. Got one back the other day on my horse, the road was closed and we had to use a very narrow road, I ride quite often down this road and there is no way that a horse and a car can pass. One stroppy man refused to go back when he met me and told me to go back so I did....... at the walk ( and Tilly walks very slowly) for nearly a 1/4 of a mile, he was livid and said I should of trotted. No I said slight incline very dangerous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. A friend of mine had the same thing happen, and simply got out of her car and walked away!
    What a horrid and ungallant man.

  4. Well I am annoyed for you. It makes me so angry that men think they can drive where the hell they like and how they like and if they see a woman they seem to abandon any manners which they just might possess. It is difficult in this day and age to confront men who we don't know and you were very brave. I am afraid I meet bad manners almost every day on our single track roads and they are usually tourists, but I didn't say that.

    I hope you don't come across his obvious attitude problem again and remember; what goes around, comes around. He'll get his comeuppance. And as you were in the right, you have nothing to worry about.

    Crystal xx

  5. I know how frustrating it must have been. I also live down a very narrow and quite busy lane. Why is it always the big, shiny black cars that cause the trouble. (plus me whan I'm off down the lane with my wheel barrow Heh Heh Heh!)

  6. Basil Fawlty all the way. What a panker!! Quite right to insist - you were actually adhering to the Rules of the Road and all that, and quite agree about these prats in plush motors pushing Little Women about.

  7. Just going to shout get a horribly big 4X4 like me preferably and ancient one so it doesn't matter if people ram it and do as I do - peer over my glasses and say: "No hurry I can wait here all day1" while pulling out a novel.
    Luckily Brian got there before me on the car front but the novel one is a useful tip plus a very ferocious guard dog called Tigger who's good and flinging himself at closed windows while shrieking vile oaths at passing strangers.... Just noticed that Jane does the novel reading one too! Shaking for you...

  8. Just discovered your blog and am enjoying it immensely. When we drove in the UK on small lanes, we quickly learnt to pull over to the left, or back up to the nearest pull-out. And he was a resident? How rude!
    We have road rage here in the US of course, but it isn't nearly so intimate. Usually on the motorway, quick and anonymous, and one never sees them again. Hope Mr. Big Black Shiny never darkens your path again.


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