Saturday, October 17, 2020

These Impotent Fisticuffs

Today, a person was riding my bumper so close on my way to Albertsons that they were almost hitting me for blocks, zigging in and out behind me in the left lane into the left turn lane, scowling, staring me down, hunching over their wheel, all the nonsense, as traffic moved slow but steady in front of us. I don't mean tailgating with feet to spare; I mean tailgating with inches to spare.

When I braked and hard at a red light, the tailgater became even more enraged and got out of their car behind me, looming and yelling out there. They got back in their car, moved into the right lane next to me, positioning their car very close to my passenger side and so I couldn't read either of their plates, jumped out of their car fists balled, and began punching and punching and punching and punching and punching my passenger side window.

I honked the horn, pressing my palm hard down on the center of my steering wheel, a few shock seconds of regressing to my grandfather’s car, the Oldsmobile, the tank, the booming proud trumpet of a horn, only to hear beeps instead. I moved over a bit into the left turn lane to create space between us. Once again I had nowhere else to go with a car right in front of me. The nearest open left turn was long blocks up Virgil. There was no one approaching behind us, no sign of a potential human being in front of us.

After a few rounds of these impotent fisticuffs, the tailgater started to leave as everyone else on the road just continued to play This Isn't Happening, all seeming to get further and further away from me without moving with each second, with each punch that passed, even though there was someone right there, right there in front of me, and someone else right over there, right there in front of this maniac, a bad 80s horror movie.

I waited as the tailgater walked off after fisticuffs round two. Once they drove away, I planned to follow a good distance behind just long enough to get their license plate. I wanted that license plate.

When they saw, though, that I wasn’t fazed enough to leave, they changed their mind, doubled back, launched themself full body against my passenger door and delivered another two to three rounds of blows to the glass pane, leaving impotent fist marks and most likely injuring themself by then, which was fine by me, though I was amazed the light was still red after an eternity had passed. Guess it hurts to do an eternity’s worth of window-punching.

I’ve been in enough weird situations to understand that in a sense I’m an observer in those situations (journalism), and what I observed in this situation today was a “Fucking psycho,” the exact words I yelled while holding down the horn button again and missing my first car the Oldsmobile that had a horn I could have described as “leaning on,” and actually leaned on. I wanted to lean. I wanted this surreal-long red light up ahead to turn green or for something or someone beside the tailgater now just standing there screaming at me to move, to go. I didn't want to make myself easy prey to be followed onto a side street, but I could tell they weren't going to relent.

I detoured into the left turn lane and zipped down the long blocks to the next cross street and turned off. They did not follow. They did not move to get back into their car for several long beats. I cannot remember what kind of car they were driving. Something sporty. I think it was black, a little souped up. I watched them in my rearview mirror as they remained blocking the right lane for a few more long beats then moved up and made the corner; I watched them turn fast in the opposite direction, disappearing backward in my rearview mirror.

This was a practiced routine and still, even though they were deliberate in their behavior, they would insist I instigated their fisticuffs, as bullies do. And who would have stepped up to disagree?

Where was the driver to peek their head out their own car window and shout, "Hey, knock that off!" Couldn't one of the other handful of drivers have also honked their horns? Disappointing and I knew calling the police was out, a waste of time and focus as my Toyota was being pummeled.

I'm also well aware this incident could've gone much worse for both of us. One day, this person is going to pull these antics with someone who turns out to be as violent as they are. And as for me, I’ve seen enough horror movies to know better than to get out of my car when a fucking psycho attacks.

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