ANDERSON, Ind. —
I could tell what the driver of the SUV that was rapidly approaching me from the rear was going to do long before he did it.
When I looked in my rearview mirror and saw the SUV, I could tell the driver was a jerk. When it comes to driving, I have excellent jerk radar. Or J-dar, if you will. Jerks on the highway are easy to spot. They usually come out of nowhere, and before you have a chance to switch lanes so they can pass, they veer into the right lane, pass you and then zip back into the left lane, forcing you to hit your brakes.
When I saw the jerk in the SUV riding on my tail and then veer into the right lane, I knew what he was going to do.
The reason I was in the left lane was because there was a tanker truck in the right lane going tanker-truck speed. For those who don’t know, tanker-truck speed is slow. Think of a large turtle walking in peanut butter. Wait, that’s dumb. Why would a large turtle be walking in peanut butter? And why would walking in peanut butter make the large turtle walk slower than normal? And is it possible for large turtles to develop peanut allergies? Too many questions.
So forget what I said about the large turtle walking in peanut butter. I don’t know what I was thinking.
Anyway, because the tanker truck in the right lane was going slow, there were a lot of cars in the left lane all trying to pass the truck.
About two or three car lengths in front of me was a nice driver in a compact car. I had no reason to think the driver of the compact car was nice, but since my J-dar didn’t kick in, I assumed he was.
The jerk in the SUV, riding my tail, suddenly switched to the right lane and soon was almost on top of the tanker truck.
“Don’t do it,” I said as the SUV approached the tanker truck.
“Don’t you dare do it,” I said.
And the jerk in the SUV didn’t do it. He didn’t suddenly zip into my lane and cause me to slam on my brakes. Instead, he kept going a bit and then zipped into the left lane, causing the nice guy in the compact car to slam on his brakes, which caused me to slam on my brakes.
“(Long stream of bad words directed at the jerk in the SUV followed by several hand gestures, each of which was unique in its own special way),” I said.
“Don’t you do it, Mike,” my wife said.
“Don’t do what?” I asked innocently as I began to drive a bit faster.
“Don’t you chase him down so you can show him one of your unique hand gestures,” my wife said.
My wife has spent a lot of time in the car with me.
Even though I wanted to chase the jerk in the SUV down and flash a hand gesture or two, I knew my wife was right. The jerk in the SUV had already made me mad and had gotten our trip off to a tense start. Why make it worse by chasing him down and flashing the jerk in the SUV a hand gesture even though it would be unique in its own special way? The better thing to do is to live and let live, breathe in and breathe out, and let a smile be your umbrella.
And then chase the jerk in the SUV down and flash him a hand gesture.
I’m just kidding. I let the jerk in the SUV ease on down the road.
I’ve learned over the years that jerks aren’t bothered when other drivers flash hand gestures at them, or honk at them or yell, “What’s the matter with you, you jerk!”
For one thing, jerks usually are too busy talking on their cellphones to notice other drivers. If you approach them and flash them a hand gesture, they’ll glance up from the phone for a second, wave and go back to talking on their cellphone about jerk-related things.
For another thing, jerks — because they are jerks — are used to people flashing hand gestures at them. They’re used to people honking and yelling at them. For jerks, having people mad at them is routine. Jerks wouldn’t know what to do if someone wasn’t flashing them hand gestures or honking and yelling at them.
Even so, I really wanted to chase the jerk in the SUV down.
Seriously, I’ve got a new hand gesture that I’ve been dying to try.
Mike Pound is a columnist for The Joplin (Mo.) Globe. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.