The Middle-Finger Incident

This is the story of how I lost my cool on an ordinary summer day. I have no idea how this happened since I don’t recall anything amiss or unusual in the hours leading up to the incident. I had even been on a declared Love-journey for the previous four months, seeking out strangers for eye contact in order to radiate love vibes. 

Obviously, I wasn’t loving all of the time. That wasn’t a secret, I have explained it on the blog before. Being extra loving to more humans than one is accustomed, takes practice.

As for the incident …. 

In all my years as an adult driver, other than letting loose the occasional cuss words under my breath or rolling my eyes impatiently, I had never succumbed to any noticeable road rage. 

Okay, maybe once when I was in my twenties, but that guy was an asshole! He thought I was some little girl he could bulldoze over. We were in slow-moving, bumper to bumper traffic on an overcrowded street in Brooklyn. It was broad daylight, there were witnesses, I was merely standing my ground. Fuck him.

Let’s not get off track. Focus, Maria.

So a few weeks ago some guy in an old pickup truck crossed paths with me three times and on the third crossing things became a little electrified. Don’t worry, no one was hurt, and no law enforcers had to be called to the scene.

At the first crossing, I was driving along a 45 mph stretch of road and came upon said pickup truck doing thirty. Prior to driving, I had been at home writing for several hours. It was mid-afternoon and I needed a few grocery items for dinner, so I was headed into town, a ten minute drive away. 

Seeing the truck ahead, I slowed down, staying two car distances away. We were the only two driving on the road in our direction. I sighed and tried to avoid staring at the pickup’s bumper. I turned my music up and willed my mind to produce pleasant thoughts. After all, there was no need to rush, it was still early in the day. Also, I needed gas and I figured, once I turned off, Slow-poke-pickup would probably be gone from my life forever.

Stop sign. Uh-oh. Slow-poke was signaling to turn right like me. Gah!

This road is a common shortcut, I told myself. He could be going anywhere.

Ah yes, here comes the gas station, bye-bye Slow-poke. Shit. He’s turning into the busy gas station. And instead of swinging in a wide arc to find himself a pump further inside the lot, he sits with his tail at the entrance, leaving me to stopped behind him in traffic. Ugh.

He creeps in slowly and when I see an opportunity, I swing a wide arc around him and easily find an available pump on the other side.

By the time I was done getting my gas I had forgotten all about Slow-poke. But then just as I start my car Slowpoke appears in my peripheral vision. I hurry to put my car in gear and move out of there ahead of him. He’s watching me the whole time, as if he’s waiting, and just as I near the stop sign he springs forward in front of me. Grrr!

Now the fun begins. Who knew a car with a working engine could go as slow as three miles per hour? That’s how slow the pickup moves once it’s ahead of me again. And it looks like we are both heading into the grocery store parking lot across the street.

The light is changing in front of us and Slow-poke taps his breaks just as he’s clearing the intersection. Now I’m fuming. Triggered and flash-backing, I guess. I stay with Slow-poke because I refuse to be stymied by the red light of the law.

But I have to crawl like a snail through that red light to get out of the way of traffic. Ugh. And then it happened. Up went my middle-finger! I pressed it right up against the inside of my windshield so Slow-poke wouldn’t miss it. Who knows if he even saw me.

We parked on opposite sides of the shopping mall after that. I was slumped in my seat trembling with anger, shame and remorse. 

What.The.Fuck., Maria. How old are you? Have you lost your mind?

I saw Slow-poke in the grocery store, but he wasn’t paying any attention to me. We shopped for our groceries and return to our separate lives without further incident.

That day reminded me that I am still only human, possessing flaws and vulnerabilities not much different from the next person. And some days— despite my best effort and despite all the uneventful, well-meaning days which may come before— I am quite capable of reverting to behaving like a tired toddler. I’m okay with this.

It’s a new day. Once again, I get another chance to be better in this one than I was in the days or weeks before.

Life goes on.




P.S. Don’t forget to check out my latest podcast episode 36, Who Do You Think You Are? You can listen to it here or here.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. librepaley8 says:

    I am afraid that my own middle finger is a little over-active at times, more as a pedestrian when in the city than as a driver. But yes, there is the risk of then encountering the “birdee” – or worse, it turning out to be someone you know.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I flipped the bird once in my driving life and it was both a liberating and an ‘oh my god how do I undo that’ moment. We’ve all been there, thank you for the laugh!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Unless you are bucking for sainthood please give Maria a break. Any normal person would have felt the same.

    One alternative to the finger is blowing them a kiss. If they’re deliberately trying to trigger you it stops them in their tracks. They just don’t know how to respond. You can go on about your day laughing instead of murmuring recriminations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hi debbra, nice to see you here. i’ve spent my entire adult life offering the kiss blowing alternative. new day, new me. sometimes the shadow of who we are deserves a little of the spotlight.


  4. Wow I totally enjoyed this post. Such a delightful read.


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