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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Vrrooom!

    I saved a man’s life yesterday, and for doing so, I feel as if I’ve grown as a person.’ Allow me to explain: while driving North on Nicolls Road, towards campus, I found myself in need to get into the left lane, in preparation to turn into the university.’ A car had vacated the left lane, in preparation to make a turn himself, and there was an ample opening.’ I signaled my intention, looked to make sure that there was adequate room, and proceeded to change lanes.’ An older gentleman, driving a new minivan, proceeded to honk at me and make explicit gestures with his hands.’ This was done for literally no reason, aside from the fact that he did not want me in what he likely considered to be ‘his’ lane.

    The older gentleman proceeded to jump into the right lane, rolled down his window, and shouted at us.’ I backed off, not wanting to be berated.’ Of course, we all laughed at this self-righteous, morally-outraged human being, all the while giving him ample room.’ He proceeded to swerve in and out of both his and my lane, prompting me to say, ‘Is he insane?’ while laughing.’ He gets in front of me, and I put my left blinker light on.’ He does the same, and proceeds to the left-most lane. The light is red.’ He gets out of his car, a man who I would judge to be in his 60s, and as such, a victim of the natural aging process.’ He lumbers towards a car with three college students in it.’ Rather than satisfy this man’s wish to throw down, I made a snap judgment and got back into traffic, deciding to take the next entrance into the university.

    A few things through my mind as he walked out of his car.’ One of them was not, ‘Will I get hurt?” The answer to that question would be a resounding, ‘No.” Had this gentleman thought through to the end game, one man versus three college students is not a fair fight, and certainly not one that he can win.’ Was this man thinking rationally?’ I’d like to hope not.

    I spoke to a coworker about this, a man himself in his late fifties.’ He remarked that people, nowadays, are basically nuts on the road.’ Behavior that I fondly linked to the city has crept its way out east, to an absurd degree.’ I think of my father, a gentle man who would not contemplate entering a fist fight with college students on the road.’ He, too, is in his early 60s and drives a minivan.

    By avoiding confrontation, we let that man go about this day unbruised.’ By engaging him on a physical level, while he instigated the matter and felt mock moral-outrage at our presence on the road, he would have been satisfied to complete that episode as a full-fledged victim.

    I reach my conclusion that a main motivation for road rage is a feeling of victimization.’ That man felt wronged by us, and even though it was a battle he could not win, felt as if he needed to avenge his honor.’ By denying him an opportunity to face off, and ultimately denying him the pain of losing, we were able to leave with his honor intact, while suffering a superficial defeat ourselves.’ In this short essay, I believe I have come to fully understand what it means to experience road rage and in the end, what it means to be the ‘bigger person.” I say this not out of my own sense of self-righteousness, but out of respect for the deluded men and women who would get out their cars.’ I respect them and their pride enough to drive away.’ And in this way, I have grown.

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