Outside voice

Driving Gamma home from somewhere the other day when some guy in a delivery fan forced his way onto the roundabout in front of me. Had to swerve and slam on brakes to avoid a collision. Very bad driving. So bad, in fact, that I felt compelled to inform him of this fact. Instead of exiting the roundabout where I had planned to, I followed the delivery van.
“Dad,” Gamma cautioned. “What are you doing?”
I just snarled.
He turned in to a supermarket parking lot. I pulled up next to him and rolled down the passenger window and, in my best outside voice, said, “Hey! Hey you!”
He rolled down his window and, with the air of a big, tough-looking bearded delivery truck driver being yelled at by a frothing maniac, said, “Yes?”
“Where did you learn to drive?” I said, pithily.
“Someone already on the roundabout has right of way, don’t you know that?” I continued.
Everyone in the parking lot was staring.
“Yes, but you don’t have to be so stubborn,” he sighed.
I took that as an apology and drove home.
“Aren’t you embarrassed?” Gamma asked from the back seat.
“Nah,” I said. “I won’t be embarrassed until the adrenaline wears off.”

14 responses to “Outside voice

  1. So many times I’ve been tempted to follow someone to do just this.

    I think you are my new hero. For real.

  2. Jann

    Oh you guys!!! Judge Wapner (The People’s Court) used to tell men who ended up in court, suing each other because of incidents that started out like this but ended up much worse, “If you want to tell people how to drive, be a traffic cop.”

    And notice that I said “men” and not “people,” (who end up in court,I mean). In California you might get shot if you even make eye contact with someone whose driving you think needs improvement!

  3. mig

    A friend of mine dated a widow for many years whose husband had been killed in an argument over a parking spot.

  4. D

    That little anecdote about the widow would be punchier if the “friend” was the murderer and she headed out to collect groceries on the pier without noticing the small pool of brake fluid underneath her car

  5. Now that absinthe is back, maybe they can do something about adrenaline.

  6. Jann

    Re the friend: was he by any chance a generation older than you? In the early 1960’s my mother-in-law’s brother, Stanley,(who would have been my daughters’ great uncle), was living in California with his wife and two sons; he stopped for a beer on the way home from work one day, became involved in an argument with another patron who then went home, got a gun, came back and shot Stanley dead. The widow never remarried. These kinds of shootings were almost unheard of in those days.

    The story would be better if I could say they were arguing because one didn’t like the other’s parking, but if my mother-in-law knew the reason for the argument, she never told me.

  7. mig

    The aesthetics of parking are a serious thing to some of us…

    My friend and all those involved in the story are, I think, roughly my age, give or take.

    On a completely unrelated note, I am proud to report that Beta, who has a driving test coming up at the end of the week, is a far, far better parker than I was at her age. I only recently developed my parking fetish, and my daughter also seems to turn up her nose at cars (usually large urban 4×4 vehicles) parked over two spots etc.

    Fetish, I say fetish. I don’t think either of us would kill someone over a bad parking job, though.

  8. Jann

    Good luck to Beta on her driving test.

    Again, re parking: when I lived in the city of Buffalo, NY, there were very few houses with driveways, so we had to park in the street, where there were no delineated parking spaces. I always tried to park considerately, i.e.,I would make sure the car in front of me had room to back up, while trying (if possible) to leave room for someone to park behind behind me. Of course, after I parked, other cars would move, leaving my car positioned in a relatively different way. I was surprised, one morning, to see that someone had left a note on my small sedan accusing me of taking up three parking spaces!! Not too annoyed, though, because the ignorance of the writer was apparent!

  9. Re: right of way in roundabouts. In Austria, the car entering the roundabout has priority over the cars already in the roundabout unless there are any “give way” signs. I think Austria is about the only country where it works that way.

  10. mig

    That would explain the behavior of Vienna drivers on the single roundabout I encounter in the city on my daily commute, as well as the uncertainty experienced by the out-of-town drivers on the ones near my home, in the country outside Vienna. They all have the “give way” signs.

    BTW, my new year’s resolution is to be kind to everyone. I already put it into practice this morning, when some dumbass flashed me with his brights on the freeway for some reason beyond my comprehension (we’re in traffic, man, and boxed in by trucks, what am I supposed to do, fly?).

    BTW, Horst, I had the dream *before* reading on your blog that you have been reviewing music lately.

  11. mig

    PS, Jann: thanks. Beta passed her driver’s test on the first try, perfect score.

  12. If there are “Give Way” signs at the roundabout, then it’s just the normal incompetence and impatience of Austrian drivers.

  13. mig

    Yeah, this guy just got tired of waiting.

  14. Jann

    Congrats to Beta! I remember when I passed my road test, my instructor said to me, “*Now* you’re going to learn to drive!” That’s about how it worked out.

    And about those roundabouts, (aka “traffic circles” in most of the US, “Rotaries” in Massachusetts). Horst’s comments are elucidating.
    Years ago, the Army Reserve sent me to Cape Cod for summer training. As an officer, I was permitted to take my pov (privately owned vehicle). I found the numerous traffic circles intimidating, and there seemed to be signs everywhere saying “Rotary.” Rotary??? Like the Rotary Club? I’m embarrassed to say that it took me two days to make the connection!