Does misplaced anger simmer in many of today’s drivers, ready to burst out at any moment? Unequivocally, I would say the answer is yes.
But it’s not just that.
Recently, a friend of mine was driving to the local hardware store. Signaling, he pulled into the left-turn lane, at least a car-length ahead of the vehicle following him. A moment later, he felt a heavy jolt, and realized that car had banged into him – hard. Upon inspecting the damage, the bumper had a good dent in it. That’s when things got weird.
It was not an accident. The man who hit him did it deliberately, asserting he felt he had been cut off, and had a right to hit my friend’s car. When asked for a driver’s license and insurance, this fellow had neither, and declared that he was recently returned from the military – as if he felt that was an excuse for his behavior.
Sensing a situation, my friend called the police. And waited … and waited … and waited ...
More than an hour later, when nobody showed, he called the police again, and was informed by dispatch they were too busy to send anyone out. Tired of waiting, disappointed in the system, realizing the other man would avoid any penalty, my friend drove off.
The whole incident is frustrating and troubling. First, this man clearly had rationalized his right to act on his aggressions. Who else is he going to vent his rage on? He is comfortable hitting a person with his car. What if there had been children in the car? What if the next time he chooses to use a gun instead of a car? The concept that people feel they have a right to vent their anger through violence toward others seems on the upswing – and that’s scary.
Second, the lack of police response is depressing. While I acknowledge the demands being made on a reduced police force are significant, the strange behavior of this individual should at least have warranted a community service officer being sent out rather than the flaccid “we’re too busy.” Shouldn’t an unlicensed, uninsured person who is purposely ramming into another person’s car be a bit higher on the scale of priorities than “just being a car accident”? Isn’t one of the Police Department’s priorities to get people like this off the road?
And finally, the abuse of credentials. So many members of our military are upstanding citizens. To have some fellow try to pass off his military ID card as an excuse for breaking the law is an affront to other veterans and members of the service.
It’s an understatement that we live in a volatile society. It takes little for impatience to mutate into anger, anger to erupt into rage. It makes it even harder for people who are following the correct procedures when they don’t receive at least some form of supportive response – it discourages them from making a future effort. Yet how often the police seek the “help of the public.” Isn’t that a two-way street?
Worse yet, when people face no penalty for doing something wrong or illegal, escaping through the cracks of negligence, it creates the false sense that they can do it again … and again … and the next car they hit, or the next person they assault, might be you.
Newcorn is a marketing consultant, author and freelance writer. Send comments or questions to email@example.com.