Saturday, December 11, 2004

Reason #284 to not talk on your cell phone while driving

Last night was supposed to a quick and easy drive to the airport -- which is about 30 minutes away from me. It was anything but. Since I don't normally drive on highways, I had no idea about the massive roadwork and the 'right lane only' situation, which meant for about 15 minutes, I was just sitting there. By the time, I got free, I was mildly panicked because the plane theoretically had already landed and I was still 20 minutes away. I had thoughts of my friend sitting there forlornly wondering where I was at. To compound the trouble, I had left her cell number at home -- I have a new cell phone and haven't transferred all the numbers yet -- and I had no way to let her know I was on my way. And then my cell rang and without thinking, I grabbed it, and in the process slightly swerved into another lane. It was my friend in Florida and I just said, "Can't talk, on the road," and hung up. But the damage had already been done.

There was another car in the lane I'd swerved into -- a white four-door Nissan Maxima with four people in it. I hadn't hit them, but I *had* cut them off in my moment of inattention and they were pissed about it. They cut into my lane, slowed down considerably, and I moved into the left lane to overtake them. Before I could do so, they cut back in my lane and slowed down again; the two people in the backseat were staring at me. I cut back into the right lane, and they came right with me. Feeling freaked out, I slowed down and gradually cut all the way to the far right, and the Maxima, which was now ahead of me, actually slowed down *so* much, they put their blinkers on. At that point, I realized they were not going to let me pass them. No matter what I did, they were going to be dogging me. So I did what no good driver should ever do: at the very last minute, I took the first exit that came up. Luckily, since it was 10 pm, there was little traffic and I didn't cut anyone off in my wild swerve to the exit. I stayed on the feeder road until the next exit, and when I came back on the interstate, the Maxima was gone.

It was really scary. My heart was pounding and I was on the verge of tears. The whole time the situation had been going on, I had been trying to dial 911 on my cell, but couldn't quite manage the driving and dialing at the same time -- especially since I already had one car load of people pissed off at me. It was my first experience with road rage and it was scary enough -- no need to do it again, thankyouverymuch.

I'm still agitated over the situation because I don't know what that car's intentions were. Were they trying to scare me? Annoy me? Force me off the road? Shoot me? Also, in true Seema!fashion, I've been replaying those 2-3 minutes over and over in my head and what I could have done to avoid the situation. I shouldn't have reached for the phone or I should have left the house earlier so I wasn't flustered about getting to the airport late. In the end, it comes down to me making a mistake by taking my attention momentarily off the road, but that the Maxima made the bigger mistake by retaliating so violently and that I did the right thing by eventually getting off the road (if they had followed me, I probably would have turned into a shopping center -- thank GOD for Christmas and late shopping hours! -- and called 911 from a parking lot). Yes, 12 hours later, I'm still shaking, but I'm very, very grateful to be home in one piece. If any of you are in a similar situation here are some tips on dealing.

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