Pedestrian Road Rage

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Pedestrian Road Rage
February 2007 (Brooklyn, NY)
by Jessica Max

That son of a bitch. The big grinning grille of the Hummer barrels halfway into the crosswalk, squeaks to a stop just centimeters from my left elbow. "Those Hummers," I murmur to the woman beside me. Both of us eye the huge rig as we maneuver around it, the line of cars behind it stretching back to the Brooklyn Bridge.

We reach the pedestrian island, cars speeding across our path. I glance at the light, then back at the Hummer. The driver lowers the window, scowls at me. "Mind your own fuckin' business, y'bitch."

I freeze, then feel a surge of what must be called pedestrian road rage. The fury whooshes from my stomach to my throat. "You nearly running into me, that's not my business? Your exhaust in my lungs, that's not my business?" I feel like Edward Abbey; hell, I feel like Rupaul. "My fuckin' money goin' to this goddamn war for your pretty-pretty gas-o-line, that's not my biiiz-ness?"

The red hand flashes urgently, gesturing me to safety. Behind me the driver floors the engine and speeds off with a last smoky puff, as if blowing smoke straight in my face.

I stand on the sidewalk by Tillary Street, slowing my heaving breath. I am surprised by how good I feel, a neat orgasm of anger leaving its oxytocin wake. I really ought to lose my temper more often.

Time to come clean. That's a lie, a Hothead fantasy. In reality I gape at the driver, angry but mostly shocked. The man's face seems frozen in his sneer, a wax replica; I pull my hat down over my ears and turn away. The woman beside me glances over, and we lock eyes. She has seen all of this. There are two of us, and only one of him.

We cross without further incident. That brisk afternoon I let my repressed adrenaline propel me over the Manhattan Bridge, the long path all mine, a cold sun glittering over the water, offering little warmth.