As an instructor, I often tell my students that the greatest threat that they need to worry about isn’t the street level mugger. “The greatest threat is what you see in the mirror.” In other words, YOU. I saw a prime example of this during a road rage incident between a young driver and an elderly jogger on Halloween.
I was at a red light at the intersection in the below photograph. An elderly male jogger was jogging across the crosswalk from the
While he was jogging across the crosswalk, a white minivan was waiting to make a left-hand turn. In slow motion, I could see that he was going to possibly hit the jogger in the crosswalk. Fortunately, he stopped in time to avoid hitting the jogger. Only a foot or two separated the van and the jogger. In watching all of this, I was 5 to 10 feet away.
The elderly jogger did not see this van and reacted in surprise. I don’t think that the driver of the van saw the jogger either. Startled, the jogger threw his hands in the air as if to say “You idiot, you almost hit me!” As the windows were closed in my car, I did not hear what the jogger said. In the grand scheme of things, the jogger’s reaction appeared to me to be mild.
Mind you, the jogger had the right of way.
The elderly jogger then continued his jog.
Amazingly, the driver of the van got pissed at the jogger, revved up his van, and pulled into an empty parking lot adjacent to the sidewalk that the jogger was on. As I was still sitting the intersection, I observed the driver get out of the van to confront the jogger.
From my vantage point, I saw that the driver was a young man and appeared to be in his 30s to 40s. He commenced screaming at the elderly man once he got out of the van.
While watching this, I said to myself: “Dude, you almost hit a jogger. You’re lucky you didn’t hit him. And now you’re pissed at him? WTF is up with this road rage toward an elderly jogger?“
I was concerned that the driver was going to attack the jogger as his reaction to the jogger’s mild response seemed to be disproportionate. Essentially, he was getting angry over nothing.
I decided to pull into the parking lot and intervene. After rolling down the passenger side window, I said to the bully: “Hey, that guy had the right of way in the crosswalk. What’s wrong with you?“
Not surprisingly, the bully started screaming at me, trying to justify his actions. Staying calm, I stayed in the car and told him: “Shut up. He had the right of way. You almost hit him. You should be fucking thankful you did not hit him.”
In response, he continued to berate me. While he was berating me, out of the corner of my eye, I saw that the elderly jogger had disappeared. Mission accomplished.
I then left the scene with the bully driver continuing to scream at me.
After being nearly hit by the van, the jogger’s response was brief and mild. As indicated earlier in this post, he threw up his hands with a combination of exasperation and anger after seeing the van nearly hit him. After his brief reaction, he continued his jog. He did not stand in the street or attack the van. He said his piece and then move on.
Given that mild response, the driver wildly over-reacted. Maybe he was having a bad day. But, I think that it’s probable that the driver has poor anger management issues. Obviously, he demonstrated poor impulse control in his over-reaction to the elderly jogger’s response and willingness to exit his van to confront him.
Furthermore, I think that it is highly probable that he has had road rage incidents in the past or will have more in the future. By allowing his anger to run unchecked,
Think about it. If you are this driver, you are possibly putting yourself in danger when confronting someone while enraged. Confronting the wrong person means that things can go sideways very quickly. Outcomes range from serious injury to facing significant criminal charges by the authorities. Going into debt to pay defense lawyer fees and reputational damage are sure to follow.
As stated at the beginning of this post, the most serious threat often isn’t the bad guy in a hoodie. An unchecked ego is the greatest enemy for many folks. Learn to control it. Be calm. Go with the flow. Take responsibility for your actions and you’ll be okay.
I am thankful that I saw this entire incident unfold from beginning to end as it reinforced my self defense philosophy. Indeed, I’ve related the incident to my students at Durham College/University of Ontario Institute of Technology as well as my Bamboo Spirit students.