OK, it didn’t quite go like that, but I did shout out “Fodas!” or “Sacana!” at the driver in question. I haven’t fully padded out my Portuguese vocabulary with too many swear words. I may just have shouted “Fuck!”. Whichever language I used, it was strong language. I walloped the bonnet of the black Audi with rage. The driver put the car in gear and sped off.
I stood at the road’s edge, sweating, panting heavily and realising there was no way to get my phone out in time to photograph the car’s registration and details before he was out of sight. Suddenly I felt a little awkward and a little embarrassed as I became aware that I was being watched by the girl who had stopped her Corsa on the other side of the road to witness my tirade and the spectacle that had taken place.
I glared in the direction of the space where the incident had occurred, barely responding to the sympathetic look from Corsa girl. I’m not normally a violent person. But that evening, halfway through my favorite ten-kilometer route, I snapped. It may have been connected with the Audi that almost killed me.
That evening while on a training run, I had the right of way at a pedestrian crossing when suddenly, speeding out from a side street, I became associated with the front of a black car. This was rapidly followed by an introduction to the asphalt below.
What just happened? He hadn’t hit me, but I fell back as he slammed on the brakes just in time. Stunned to be face-to-face with an Audi badge, I looked up and saw the driver peering down from the front seat. A middle-aged man with a hair gel-abuse problem. He glanced at me innocently, with a false apologetic expression worthy of the worst amateur drama society performance. “Não vi.” (Or something of that nature) I didn’t see you.
He understood my English worded reaction, “What?!”
“I didn’t see you. Maybe you shouldn’t be running here.”
“I shouldn’t be running here? You shouldn’t be ****ing hitting people with your car! You shouldn’t be ****ing speeding in this area! You shouldn’t be ****ing accelerating as you ****ing take a tight ****ing corner! Learn to ****ing drive you ****ing ****!” I pointed to the pedestrian markings on the road at the point where I’d crossed and just almost been hit. I pointed at the STOP sign at the junction he’d just sped out of. I pointed to the tight corner. I pointed at the car on the other side of the road which had stopped and remained there; the driver watching events unfold.
I took a breath.
“You almost killed me!”
“I DIDN’T SEE YOU!”
I took a breath, hoping my rage would subside. It didn’t. The driver just glowed. Literally. Then the source of the glow appeared in my line of sight. I blinked in disbelief and looked again. This time he saw what I was looking at. His iPhone. The glow was coming from the mobile phone sitting on his lap.
I pointed at the phone and hit the bonnet. My language skills retreated into a full-blown rant full of extreme Dublin colloquialisms, insults and gestures: “THAT! NO! NOT OK! NO! NO!” I could tell you the exact wording from that moment on, but I’m a respectable family man now. A father with responsibilities, including educating my daughter with polite manners and a skill in using clever and appropriate language. But let’s say this: if this was Sesame Street, today’s show was brought to you by the letter F.
Disaffected and with an arrogant sneer – I assume this wasn’t his first incident in recent memory – he put his hand down to the gear stick and off he went.
Every so often I have a near-miss with idiotic drivers. The ones who think that they have ownership of the roads and pavements, as well as the right of way over everybody and everything else. The people who don’t observe. The arrogant ones who think nothing bad will ever happen to them. The people calling, and reading or writing text messages while they attempt some awkward or dangerous maneuver in their car – normally reversing or taking a tight corner. At speed. Even nighttime drivers with no headlights on. They deflect blame, sitting in their cars with their mobile phones, arrogance and their “maybe-you-shouldn’t-be-running-heres.” It’s clearly everybody else’s fault.
Maybe that’s why I blew it. I’m sick of just shrugging it off or just giving despondent glances at the drivers. I’m tired of feeling like I’m doing something bad by wishing people would operate their two-ton deathmobiles with a degree responsibly. What I really want to do is lie in wait and throw paint balls at every texting driver who passes by. Maybe they’d notice that. They seem to miss everything else.