Road rage incident last week
I've had a few days to sit on this one, but I was embarrassed by just how scattered my thoughts were when the situation took place. I didn't handle things as well as I should have, at all. So here's the story.
Driving home from work last week I was on a four lane freeway coming up to a split (left two lanes go one way, right two lanes go another). Traffic was a real mess the whole way, but was hard stop, slowly speed up, hard stop, repeatedly smoking tires and brake pads all around me. I was taking it easy, in no real hurry, and allowing some stopping distance so I didn't have to slam on my brakes constantly. This lead to a few folks cutting me off, now and then, which I was focused on not being caught off guard by or being upset about.
The split was less than 500ft in front of me, and traffic started moving a bit from a stop. I was in the left-middle lane, and a minivan in the lane to my right decided to merge into me without so much as a blinker of warning. I'm talking exactly next to me, our side mirrors almost caught, and I laid on the horn to warn him off as I slowed down trying to avoid a collision.
He didn't change course at all, and very nearly snagged my bumper as I slowed down quick enough to let him in. My heart rate was up and I was furious, but kept my windows up and kept any words of wisdom I felt relevant fly in the comfort of my AC. No gesturing on my part, nothing but mouth moving and white knuckles on my steering wheel to convey my emotional state.
Five seconds later, traffic grinds to a complete stop again. As soon as it did, the guy puts his minivan in park, hops out and comes stomping back to my car screaming and waving the whole way. I'd left at least 20ft between our vehicles when we came to a stop, maybe more. I have no idea what he was saying, as i kept my window up. I was watching his hands the whole time, hoping he would keep them both visible as I cut my wheel to the right; if he produced a gun or knife, I was taking the berm and going around his parked vehicle immediately.
During his waving, ranting walk, I stayed perfectly still in my car, just staring at him. I could tell he was disappointed not to have a response, and it was taking away from whatever he was saying to get nothing back from me, and he quickly gave it up and went back to his car. He never walked closer than about 15ft from my car window, but held his distance and kept his hands moving and away from his belt and sides.
I very likely should have gone around him on the berm as soon as he walked past his rear bumper and approached my car; if he'd had a gun, I would not have been in a position to survive as close as he got. I know passing him and trying to escape would have likely escalated things in his mind, but I might have lived through it. I also should have been dialing 911 the second he opened his door and started toward me, which I completely failed to do (or even think of, frankly).
The whole time I was just thinking to myself, "Why, oh why, are you not carrying?" I can't carry at work, and I don't have a lockbox for my car, so I leave it home during typical workdays. I was kicking myself the entire time.
Can you spot any other things I did wrong here?