My Lenten Failure

Accident
Sometimes, these things end badly.

For Lent, again this year, I did for myself, the little things that others often do for me. I wrote about that last year, no need to describe it today. Besides, Lent’s over – “honey, can you bring me more coffee?

Having done that for more than a few years, I thought that I should do more. Set the bar higher. Try something new. I still liked the concept of adding something good as opposed to giving up something bad not so good not as good for me as other things. I picked a thing. A very difficult thing. A solitary thing. I kept it to myself and I set out to prove to myself that I could do it.

I was going to be nice to drivers.

Not just any drivers.

You see, I’m already pretty nice to most drivers. I yield. I signal. OK, I don’t always signal when I’m the only person at an intersection, like my wife says I should; my father would have agreed with her. He would remind me of the invisible policeman, remember him? I keep up with the traffic in the lane I am in on the highway, and I let people merge, turn and exit in front of me. I am pretty nice to UPS, US Mail and FedEx drivers, anybody driving on a schedule really, and I am particularly cautious when passing people on bicycles. None of these were the target of my Lenten sacrifice.

I was going to be nice to drivers who don’t deserve anyone being nice to them. You know who I’m talking about. The special people who always seem to be in a hurry, who seem to need to be ahead of me. The people who ignore signs, lane markings and the other cars on the road. I was going to assume they had their reasons, and try to cut them some slack. I failed. Below is an “illustrated” guide to some of these failures:

Rt-2 to I-84W – Rt-2 is a 2-lane highway that expands to 4 or 5 lanes as it ends and merges with I-84. Most of the drivers get in their lane and move toward the exit. But, there’s always a few who run up in the wrong lane and try to nose in at the end of the road. I did not go out of my way to let these people in.

Rt-2 - I-84
At least 3 days a week, I end up avoiding this exit, but these guys are everywhere.

 

Median Jumpers – I get on the highway in the morning via a long ramp to a busy section of I-91S. I enter about half-a-mile before a major exit. The traffic I’m merging into is starting to congeal. Now and then, the guy behind me on the ramp tries to enter the highway via the median and pass me. I couldn’t bring myself to accommodate that behavior.

Median Jumper
Wait your turn.

Faster than Fast – I often give up on I-84W. I head east instead, to I-291W, a.k.a. the next bridge across the river. I stay in the left lane of that two-lane highway because there is a very large interchange with lots of cars getting on and off, and I like to avoid the confusion. I keep my speed up, but I still get guys who want me to go faster. There’s nowhere to go; there are cars ahead of me. I’m keeping pace with them, but I’m leaving a safe distance. These guys want me to close that gap. Sorry, not happening. Eventually, they weave out, around and, sometimes, they make it back in.

My wife says these guys drive like they're playing a video game.
My wife says these guys drive like they’re playing a video game.

Off-Ramp Racing – When I’m close to home, I take a fly-over ramp from I-91N to CT-20W. It’s a two lane ramp, but it’s a pretty tight curve that sharpens toward the end. Since it’s also the road to the airport, there are a lot of rental-car-returnees on that ramp. Maybe they’re late for a flight. Maybe they’re just special people visiting from a different state. All I know is that they often want me to go faster. I don’t. I’ve seen more than a few weave around me, only to find themselves in trouble at that sharper section.

Off-Ramp Racing
I’ve seen a couple of these guys end up in the dirt.

I’m not sure why I thought I could be nice to these people. Being nice to them would be dangerous for me and others. I’ll wrap this post up with a link to an article from when I was 13 years old. I guess these special people have always been with us. This article shows why, maybe, helping them has never been a good idea.

75 thoughts on “My Lenten Failure

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  1. You know Dan… people are just plain rude. And the bigger the cage, the less manners the rats have. It’s no wonder people are so fascinated with zombies. I read a study that said in an overcrowded cage of rats, they’d eventually turn to cannibalism. So I figure watching zombies lets people vicariously act out that impulse… Next step… zombie apocalypse on the freeway, but the zombies aren’t un-dead. Just my twisted Monday, single cup of coffee ramble. Coffeeeee… need more brains– I mean coffeeeee… ;) Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Coffee, Teagan, focus. I don’t want to be reading about you in the paper :) Yeah, my thought was, “if I can be nice tho them, I can be nice to anyone.” That was just a dumb thought. Thanks. I hope you have a great week.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to ride bikes earlier, but eventually I decided to not use it. Firstly, this is my way to contribute to the planet. When I have so many public transport options available, why should I inject more emission just to reach few minutes early? In fact, I can take a train (that runs on electricity) and reach hours early than any top speed car in the Indian market. Secondly, I am tired of this young guys on bikes who consider themselves Fast and Furious (when they go fast, I get furious). We keep hearing local news of people in the area knocked off by speeding cars and trucks. At least, 5 people in my neighborhood have died (which includes 15-year old teen and my building security guard) due to over-speeding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have become very careful in choosing places to ride my bike. On the weekends, I can ride on certain routes that are far too congested during the week. So, if I’m taking a vacation day, I have to change my routine if I’m going for a bike ride.

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  3. Sounds to me like you are a reasonable, responsible, defensive driver. My dad was a driver’s ed teacher and all these years later I remember the lessons I was taught long before I was old enough to sit behind the wheel, while we rode the freeways of Los Angeles. I drive in a similar manner as he did, anticipating the drivers who wait to the last minute, and are so very aggressive. I refuse to play. I think by driving the way you do, you did not fail your Lenten challenge at all. You arrive home safely to your loved ones and that is most important of all. Easter blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aww, a fine idea, Dan, and kudos to you for trying. It’s not clear what form this “failure” took, though. I don’t know how you could be “nice” to them, unless you mean refraining from honking and yelling and trying to get back at them. Perhaps you mean just not letting them get to you, which I know can be tough.

    Rude drivers are inescapable, though. They make my temperature rise, too, and I’m sure they always will, but I learned a long time ago that getting upset at them (especially if you show it) is pointless. At worst, it leads to road rage; at best, it leads to me sitting there, angry and unsettled for a while.

    And how does my being upset fix the situation? How does it make the other driver realize the error of his ways? So I just make jokes at their expense. It’s laugh or go crazy, I figure. (In my case, though, maybe both!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have always tried to avoid honking, and trying to get back, Paul. That’s dropping to their level and downright dangerous these days given some of the stories I read. There were two articles in the paper during Lent about road rage that spilled over into violence here in CT. It is impossible to escape these drivers. I guess what I was thinking would be a nice gesture, would have just been encouraging them at the expense, possibly, of my own safety. It might have been a nice thought, but it was a bad idea. I do sometimes shake my head and laugh. Sometimes, it’s all you can do.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m with you, Dan. I try to be as courteous and respectful as I can of my fellow drivers, but there are certain behaviors that never fail to raise my blood pressure level. One of the worst for me is the folks who pull from a travel lane to a merge lane in an effort to pass others. In the DC area where I live, survival depends on being a little aggressive in your driving–I am always fearful of being rear-ended if I am overly cautious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have only recently started to see this behavior Mike. It’s on that section of Rt-2 that I described. They have closed a travel lane for construction, and rather than slow the people that were using the wrong lane to get around us, those people seem to now be using a nearby exit ramp. That’s very dangerous, as you aren’t expecting traffic to enter the highway from an exit ramp.

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  6. I call it centre-of-the-universe syndrome … as in, these people believe they are the centre of the universe and everyone and everything else is either a personal benefit or obstacle to them.

    Unfortunately they are EVERYWHERE on the roads and I wish all of them a flat tire kind of day. Yes, I have a vindictive spirit when provoked. Be afraid.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I especially love the people on their cellphones who are just distracted enough to pull out in front of you because they know you’re going to slow down and let them, right? I always wave and thank someone to lets me in, but I get really ticked at those who cruise on through traffic without so much of a ‘thank you’ for trying to blend seamlessly. Where are your damn manners, people??!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so right Lois. Even the people who cut me off to get in can diffuse the situation with a (real) smile and / or a gesture of thanks. I know that sometimes, people just end up in the wrong lane. I’ll let them in, but yeah, how about some manners?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. And, once again, your comment makes me a little jealous, Wendy. Not that there aren’t idiots on those roads too, but these four interchanges are just awful, and I have to see three of them every day I go to work. Choosing which one I encounter on the way home is a daily challenge. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I applaud your efforts to even ‘try’ to be nice to ‘those’ drivers. Since retiring, I have more options for when I get on and off the various highways and avoiding rush hour certainly helps. We have to cross a bay bridge to get home and we always and I mean always have to avoid it at rush hour, Friday and Sunday afternoons, and holidays. Travel safely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. I avoid a lot in the morning by leaving at 6:00 instead of 7:00 but there’s no good option on the commute home. Plus, I leave at 3:30 and do does every school bud in Connecticut :(

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  9. I haven’t read the link yet, but I assume being nice to THOSE PEOPLE only reinforces their BAD BEHAVIOR and encourages them to continue.
    Last week I let a @#^&!ng priest cut in front of me and he didn’t even give me a @#^&!ng wave.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. It was bad. God heard me yell at my steering wheel about “THE INSPIRING GRATITUDE AND HUMILITY OF ST LAWRENCE’S CLERGY!” God knows I will still attend all St Lawrence community events. God knows I love a fish fry and how I worry about retired nuns.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I think those folks would never understand nice. When I see some behaviors I think that the person has a mother, sister or spouse somewhere who cares for them. I can hate with impunity. They have earned it. Great post and I loved the story about the 55 chevy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Mary. The best I could come up with was the fact that I don’t let these people make me angry and I don’t try to force them into the guard rail. I’d like to think that if I could smite them, I wouldn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Loved your drawings, Dan. Some people on the road act as though they left their brain at home. I’m a very defensive driver and my biggest gripe is a someone who rides on my bumper. I was taught in Driver’s Ed to keep one car distance for every 10 miles your are traveling between you and the car in front of you. When someone tailgates, I deliberately slow down AND put my brakes on. I will NOT be forced to do something I know could be dangerous and lead to an accident. Great post! Did you learn NOT to give in to rude drivers no matter what? :) <3

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was also taught to drive defensibly Amy. I refuse to get too close to the guys in front of me. I’ve seen times where the guy in front of me is swerving off to the breakdown lane cause he doesn’t have enough room to stop. I think the one car length per 1- mph (also how I was taught) is now a 2-second rule. As the car in front of you passes something, it should take you 2 seconds to pass that point. In any case, I won’t be intimidated into doing something dumb.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m right there with you, Dan. I’ve not had an accident and I don’t plan to. I will keep on driving defensively until I am not able to drive. Good to know there is another accountable person on the road!!! Way to go!!! :)

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I am SO with you on this issue, Dan!! I know these very routes, merges, and intersections, oh, so well. I could actually feel my blood pressure rising as I read your post, lol! I thought you might appreciate my recent Facebook rant after getting stuck in traffic on Route 9 one morning a few weeks ago:

    “If one wants to jump out of line and zoom up to cut into traffic again further up, please realize that by NOT making that same choice I have used up ALL the courtesy and politeness in my soul on the others who are patiently waiting in line with me. Yes, I will wait, like the sucker-pants you believe me to be, simply because I do not believe my plans for the day are more important than those of others waiting in line. But this sucker-pants in the little Honda Civic, who has used up all her politeness and courtesy on those who are actually deserving of it, has absolutely, positively none left to then yield to allow you to merge in front of her when the time comes. Not gonna happen. Just sayin’.”

    I swear, I’m usually a nice person, but I guess even nice people with the best Lenten intentions have their limits!! :D

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I sometimes take Rt-9 to get from Glastonbury to CCSU after work (I’ve done some volunteer work there). I hate that road. On top of all the idiots on the road, CT has made it harder by having so many left hand exits and on-ramps. I can’t be nice to these people. I stop short of going out of my way to be mean to them, but that’s the best they can get from me. I’m glad (maybe not) that your Civic (and my Jeep) aren’t equipped with Phasers :)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol!! No phasers – definitely a good thing!
        I think we’re talking about the same exact stretch of road – left hand on ramp from 72 right before CCSU. I usually try not to be outright mean, but on the day in question the traffic was particularly bad – bumper to bumper. I feel bad for people who have to drive it every day – I’d have to learn self-calming techniques, imagining myself in my happy place and such, lol!
        Sending you wishes of light traffic and idiot-free roads today!! :)

        Liked by 1 person

  13. When Lent is wanting us to show better habits or qualities this doesn’t mean you have to let “road hogs” or “rude” people get away with their bad habits, Dan. Letting others out of a place like gas station before driving on, is nice. Letting others “cut in” knowing there are two lanes becoming one isn’t teaching rude people anything!
    I hope you know, you are an above average courteous man, who does help others bybbeing you! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robin. The sad part, is that, if I am above average courteous, it’s because they moved the average much closer to the rude side. I just drive the way I was taught by my father. Courtesy and driving defensively were the rules of the road back then.

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  14. Driving has gotten to the point where you’re literally in danger of dying just getting out of your driveway or where you park on the street. I don’t do it much anymore, partly because husband uses the one vehicle to get to and from work. I don’t think I’d be using it much anyway, although it would be nice to have the option.

    I gave up organized religion over a decade ago, but I do remember the giving up or adding for Lent. Was it the religious part that made it impossible for the give-up and add-on to stick past Easter?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My wife doesn’t drive much, and avoids the highways. They have gotten so crazy around here that they are as dangerous as you suggest. I drive her places, but I look forward to being able to avoid rush hours. I’m in between organized religions. I haven’t given up, but so much depends on the people involved.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. KUDOS to you for trying it Dan! There are quite a few ramps on and off the freeway I will no longer use in peak hours b/c they suck at moving people driving on and off the freeways, and they enable THOSE kind of drivers to be rude, obnoxious drivers. I just hope those who design these insane interchanges, and ramps drive them too and have deal with the chaos that ensues during rush hour.

    I always hope that Karma gives back what “those drivers” gave is 10 times worse than what they do to others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. I actually changed the ramp I use in the morning. The other one was worse. Connecticut has so many places where the on and off ramps are too close. The reason I switch which bridge I use to get home is also to avoid the craziness of a really bad exit/on ramp.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. All of my years driving the freeways of Southern California reinforce everything you wrote…..one really good thing that came out of those 20+ years….I am much calmer and have a lot more patience than I did before…it was either that or die of uber stress and anger….:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good policy. I will often do that, but I won’t run the risk of being rear-ended by the guy who was content to be behind me, in order to let you in. If someone has to slam on the brakes, let it be the guy doing the wrong thing.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m torn because I support your good will but also the idea that one should never be nice to traffic offenders because somehow it makes it okay for them to do it again. And again. And again. This made me realise how much I love Roman style of driving, even though everybody far and wide warns people about the traffic in Rome. And yet everything goes. Everybody lets you in. You can move to the right and stop just because you need to explain something (and we know that Italians need both hands for it), no need for the 4 blinkers. You can pull over everywhere. Nobody gives you ugly look-at-her looks (it’s more like mmmmmm look-at-her!). If you realise you need to get off but you’re far left on the highway, you just do it. Nobody would even notice something odd is going on. It’s fast moving, entertaining, happening, and yes, just like a video game. I knew all those hours weren’t passing in vain.

    Liked by 1 person

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