“Daddy, drive faster! He is going to catch us!”
She was scared and crying when she said it but when I calmly told her to take a deep breath and promised that she would be safe she calmed down.
I didn’t tell her that will all the traffic on the road he had a damn good chance of catching up to us. Nor did I mention that I had a baseball bat in the front seat and no hesitation about using it.
It was a case of good intentions meet road rage and I was growing angrier by the moment. That is because there was no reason for my daughter to be scared and yet she was.
Life Changes In a Flash
A few moments earlier I stood on the school yard and watched her dominate the tetherball game, smiled because she was happy and because I liked seeing her competitive spirit.
Shouted encouragement once and then was silent.
Three girls had gone up against her and now a new one had come to play, except she was tiny. Â I felt badly because there was no way she was going to win, the size differential was too great.
She lost and it wasn’t even close.
As my daughter and I walked to the car I asked how old the other girl was and learned she was in 1st grade. I looked at my daughter and asked her if she thought it was fair.
“You’re in 4th grade, that is not a fair match.
She told me she knew and said that is why she took it easy on her. I nodded my head and let it go. She understood and that was enough.
Two minutes later we were buckled up and heading down the street. I stopped at the light and waited for the car ahead to turn. When he moved on I moved up and was just about to turn when I saw a bicyclist flying towards me.
I had the right of way and thought he was going to stop and was about to turn when I realized he wasn’t. He started cursing at me, screaming and I tapped my horn once.
Not long, just a short beep so he would know I was there.
The light was about to turn green in my direction and red in his. Â Surely he would stop so I started to turn and then stopped.
I stopped because I was concerned that he would be forced to brake hard and would fly over the handlebars and into traffic. I know that light well, know precisely how long it takes to turn and there was no way he would make it.
A car could accelerate fast enough but he couldn’t.
Still I stopped because I didn’t want to be party to his stupidity. It was better to let him go flashing by, except he didn’t.
He jumped off the bike, stood on the curb and waved his fists at me. It was the universal sign for “let’s get ready to rumble.”
Twenty-five years ago I would have obliged and we would have learned the hard way what the consequences would be but I am not that guy so I didn’t.
So I shouted out my own words of encouragement and made the turn. Watched in the rear view mirror as he jumped on the bike and waved his fist at me.
He was riding hard and he was following us.
“Honey, I think he is just going the same way.”
She didn’t believe me and truthfully I didn’t believe it either, but I wanted her to calm down. His behavior was stupid and asinine. I was angry about him turning a stupid incident of his own devise into a federal case.
My good intentions had gone to hell.
I should have just turned and let him worry about the consequences. I would have easily made it and he never would have come close but when he started waving his fist and screaming I decided that he was out of control and held off on turning.
Better to be safe than sorry and then he was there. Screaming, waving and trying to convince me to get out. He saw my daughter in the car.
I saw him look at her and then turn back towards me. That was when I had my moment ofÂ clarityÂ and decided that I would do my best to get clear but that if I couldn’t he might have to lose his ability to eat solid foods.
Up until that point I just wanted to go, but when I saw him look at her and not care–I got angry too.
I never got out of my car. Never did anything but drive away and he never did manage to catch up. That made me happy, but I still feel badly that my daughter was scared.
It was unnecessary.