I’ve recently discovered that there’s a fundamental difference between Texas road rage and LA road rage. They’re both vicious, but in different ways. Neither is worse than the other. Except LA road rage is absolutely worse. But I’ll get to that.
In Texas, the left lane is a coveted area to control; sort of the Texas version of the Autobahn. In fact, there are “official” Department of Transportation signs that actually say: “left lane is for passing only.” But we won’t waste our time with unrealistic fantasies.
By saying this, I don’t mean it’s difficult to get into the left lane – in fact it’s quite simple. You put on your blinker and turn the wheel (I take that back; it’s way easier said than done). However, once people get into this lane, they don’t feel the need to move, regardless of how far below the speed limit they are traveling. We will henceforth refer to these evidently illiterate drivers as “Slowmobiles.” To them, the left lane is like retirement – they had to work pretty hard to get there, and once they’ve arrived, ain’t no one gonna make them go back. And this is where the aggression commences.
Everyone behind Slowmobile is going 90 and joke’s on you, Slowmobile, if you think they’re planning on slowing down. These drivers have several options. Option A: get right up on the bumper of Slowmobile and then aggressively move into the right lane, speed up, and promptly switch back into the left lane inches in front of Slowmobile. Option B: realize that life is too short to have road rage and slow down to Slowmobile’s pace (Lol). Option C: speed up even more until you could be mistaken for a passenger in Slowmobile’s backseat and lay on your horn until the cows come home (literally. I mean, Texas.). Of course there are tons of other options – maybe two more – but these are generally the go-to’s.
I, myself, usually go for option A because I’m a passive aggressive road rager. I want to get my point across, but I’d also like to quickly be on my way.
The thing is, this scenario doesn’t just apply to highways. This happens in neighborhoods, on access roads, in school zones, in open roadless fields, I mean there’s no area out there that is safe from the wrath of Texan drivers. And the more aware of it I become, the more sociopathic it seems. Betsy Jo awakens to a lovely, sunshiney day. She has breakfast with the fam, kisses her dog goodbye, and heads off for work. Betsy Jo gets stuck behind some lunatic going 50 in the left lane. Betsy Jo loses it. Betsy Jo furiously honks and tailgates until she finally accepts that her actions are in fact making this car drive even more slowly. Betsy Jo whips into the right lane, then back to the left just to make her point, then back to the right and takes her exit. Betsy Jo calmly parks her car and strolls into work, greeting everyone with a smile as she continues her peaceful morning.
What?! How does Betsy Jo compartmentalize like that? Could Betsy Jo also go rob a bank and then pick up her kids from school as if nothing out-of-the-ordinary happened? I do not trust Betsy Jo. Although, regrettably, I am Betsy Jo. We are all Betsy Jo.
Texas road aggression is real, yes. But it’s a choice. LA road aggression essentially keeps you alive. Without it, you’re a goner. The difference: in Texas, your road rage is on the offensive. Your team has the ball and you just want to score (stay with me), but in LA, you’re on defense. You’re just trying not to get trampled because you know the ref won’t be giving you that charge call. You’re about to foul out and be on your way to purchasing a new car.
All 87 lanes are jam-packed with vehicles, so there’s really no use in trying to get into the left lane. The “left lane” concept that I took for granted for so long is obsolete here. The goal is no longer to reach your destination as quickly as possible; the goal is to reach it at all.
Sounds terrifying? Yeah I KNOW. If you’re a nice person in middle school, everyone tends to walk all over you. I grew up thinking that kindness was, like, important, so basically I was a middle school doormat. I can’t afford to be an LA road doormat. I’m really reaching with these metaphors, y’all. I guess I’m still shaken up from today’s drive. Nothing in particular happened. Just the fact that I had to drive has me a little apprehensive. The recovery process doesn’t gradually get any easier.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I hear honking in my dreams at night. Yesterday, I apparently I left work at a magical time because, by some miracle, I was able to drive 60 on the highway for upwards of 3 and a half minutes. It was the strangest feeling – I haven’t driven that fast since 2015. I felt free. I felt like anything and everything I want to accomplish in life is ripe for the picking. But soon enough, it was back to jammed lanes and tuning out everyone’s venomous yelling by blasting Usher’s reassuring voice.
Road rage exists. In some places, you choose it. In other places, it chooses you. To all my passengers, both past and future, know that I am deeply sorry. To all the other cars on the road with me, know that I accept your forthcoming apologies.