I haven’t been driving much since moving to Portland. The downside is I’m paying $250 month on my car lease, because I signed that 36-month sentence before I ever considered moving from Minnesota. Since I moved to Portland six months ago, I’ve probably logged less than 300 miles behind the wheel. Sweet investment.
Sometimes, I really miss driving. I’ve really taken to the public transportation in Portland, but when I’m crammed on the MAX at 8 a.m. I think, Man, it would be nice to work somewhere with a free parking lot. I suppose driving is among the simple pleasures you sacrifice to live in a bigger city.
I’ll admit to a minor history of road rage, but none of my rage ever extends beyond the verbal. I find comfort in four-letter words whenever some clown cuts me off or won’t let me merge. I was taught to be a highly defensive driver, and while that attitude will keep your vehicle in one piece, it’s a mentality that’s highly conducive to road rage. Of course, now that I’m not driving much, my road rage has really subsided.
I saw something last night I never thought I would see in passive Portland of all places. Right in the middle of the Pearl District, no less. For those of you who don’t know, the Pearl District is a wealthier section of Downtown Portland. There, the most severe crimes are Failure to Dispose of Dog Feces or Viagra Possession with Intention to Distribute.
I was standing on the curb ready to cross the street to get to my gym when a Chevy Blazer passed a small Hyundai Tiburon in two-way traffic. I’d noticed the SUV tailing the sedan and took attention. The Blazer bullied its way in front of the Tiburon, and half a block later, came to a halt. Then, its brake lights came on and the Blazer began to crawl backward toward the Tiburon, which was stuck in front of another vehicle. The Blazer rammed into the front of the Tiburon and continued to reverse. Then, the Blazer stopped and peeled forward. A male emerged from the passenger side of the Tiburon screaming expletives while the woman driving the car was up in arms.
I ran toward the Tiburon, hoping I could help. I consider myself a douche activist. Any I take every opportunity I can to help win the War on Douchery. This was a great opportunity.
“You need a witness?” I asked. “I’ll be a witness! Did you get a license plate? I saw the whole thing! I saw him pass you, too! That was ridiculous! Call the cops! That’s hit-and-run!”
I’ve never been in trouble my whole life. I’ve never been a snitch, either. But dammit, I love when fools get what they deserve. The Tiburon’s passengers, caught up in the madness, never checked the license plates. They thanked me for trying to help but their was no visible damage to the vehicle so they let the incident pass.
I was miffed. It was truly an arresting moment for me. Though I’ve struggled with road rage, I would never, ever do something so bold, not to mention dangerous. My road rage is fairly contained. Let me in, prick! or Drive it like you stole it!, but never something so reckless as passing on two-way streets in a crowded downtown area or throwing my car in reverse to bump into someone.
With public transportation, you might barely miss a train now and then and you might wind up next to some crazy folks mumbling gibberish or experiencing acid flashbacks. For the most part, you’ll get dozens of people with their earbuds in, newspapers and books out, minding their Ps and Qs, just trying to get to their destination. No one on board the train has control of its navigation, so there’s no rage to be felt. All in all, it’s peaceful. Predictable. You know where you’re going and you know how you’re going to get there.
But I miss driving. And to be honest, I’ll probably write about how much I dislike the MAX a few weeks from now. However, in these mean streets of Portland — and, apparently, the Pearl District — it might be best for a guy like me, road rage and all, to stick to trains so I never find myself going off the rails.
So, what about you? Ever experience road rage? Ever witness it? What’s the one thing while driving that pushes you over the edge?