A Lesson in Perception

So I’m driving down my street behind this white pickup truck going unusually slow before speeding up then hitting the brakes. Repeatedly. My frustration mounts. But at one-cross street, I finally see around. There is a sedan in the lead, driving in obviously taunting manner. The scenario is obvious: Pickup truck tail-gated, and the other drive retaliates. His vehicle moves along, the truck moves in closer, and he slows down. I’ve seen this kind of thing before.

All the while, I can see from arm waving in the cab that the pickup driver grows increasing angry. Road rage in front turns into retaliation rage behind, I trail both vehicles. Finally, after a few more abrupt slowdowns, the sedan comes to a four-way stoplight, where the truck roars left around, cutting in front of the car and making an illegal right on red. When the light turns green, the four-door pulls up behind the white two-door. Now aggressions are reversed. 

When I turn onto the same perpendicular street, the next light is still red. I pull up next to the sedan and gawk over at the driver. WTF? It’s a kid, maybe 15, with a driving instructor. Nothing was what it seemed! The pickup driver might have felt taunted by the slowing and speeding and braking unexpectedly, but he and I both saw caution and indecision, not aggression. Thinking about the drive differently, the lead car slowed to a crawl at each and every cross-street, even without stop or yield signs.

The kid wasn’t focused on the pickup behind but the road ahead and how to navigate it. What seemed like one thing was something else.

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