Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How My Work Uniform Fixed My Road Rage

I have a road rage problem.  No, let me rephrase that.  There is a problem today with the way people operate their motor vehicles.  My road rage is a symptom of the previously mentioned problem.

When I was in high school, I penned my very first Middle Flipper-esque blog entry (I don’t remember the name of the blog now).  I turned it in for an A.P. American Literature assignment my senior year.  In fact, my teacher awarded me the highest grade.  At the top of my paper, she stamped a purple stylus; a symbol indicating that she felt the writing was worthy for publication.  And what was the topic of this first masterpiece?

Road rage.

I’ve calmed down a little in my advancing years.  When I was in high school and college, I occasionally retaliated against drivers who cut me off, yelled at me, or followed me by tailing them and saying choice expletives.  Sometimes I expressed my anger in other ways involving hand signals.  Nowadays, I just swear my head off when I’m sure the other driver can’t see me.  


This problem becomes compounded when I am in my work uniform.  I have to Represent The Company when I’m in my uniform.  So when I’m driving to or from work and I encounter drivers such as: Grumpy Middle Aged Man With An Expensive Car, Spring Breaker With IPhone And/Or Alcohol, or Old Woman Whose Hair Appears To Be Operating The Steering Wheel, I really force myself to keep any frustration inside.   It works well on two levels.  First, I don’t make [insert Marine Park Name here] look bad.  Second, it helps me realize that there are far worse injustices in the world that I could get upset about*.

However, my patience was really tried a few years ago when I worked at Marineland of Florida.  

Marineland sits on a scenic coastal highway known as A1A.  A1A is a two-lane highway that winds its way through hammock forests, beach dunes, and old Florida attractions, restaurants, and homes, and along the Atlantic ocean.  Needless to say, it’s one of the best commutes I’ve ever had.  


The unfortunate part about using A1A as a commuter highway is that it’s 2-lanes.  A1A hosts vehicles such as school buses.   It is a scenic highway, so tourists and snowbirds often use it.  The speed limit for much of the commute from where I turned onto A1A until I got just outside of Marineland city limits was 55mph.  Stir all of these variables together and you’ve got a highway with a lot of slow driving.

School buses notwithstanding, I often became frustrated when a vehicle in front of me drove well under the speed limit because they were enjoying the view.  Or perhaps they were not paying attention to the speed limit signs and figured There Was No Way A Scenic Highway Had A Speed Limit Over 25mph.   But still, I kept it inside when I wore my Marineland uniform.

One day, I had a later shift at work that started in the late morning.  Traffic was moderate on A1A, but it was moving along well.  Me and my little Prius happily hummed along the historic stretch of road when I noticed a large black Suburban roll through a stop sign and turn right in front of me.  I slammed on my brakes and luckily did not hit him.  

“WHAT THE FUN DIP?!” I thought to myself. 

The Suburban continued along with me following several car lengths behind it.  Suddenly, its brake lights came on and the SUV lurched forward.  I had enough space and distance to roll to a stop, but I wondered what was going on with the guy.  He started driving again, and got to a stretch of road that ran through a State Park.   

Washington Oaks State Park

The Suburban stopped in the lane.  A dead stop.  His brake lights were still on, but I thought for certain something had happened to the car or to him.  I tried to see the driver’s face in the mirror.  The driver rolled his window down and waved at me to pass him.  There were was a steady stream of cars in the oncoming lane, and because we were in a State Park, there was hardly a shoulder for me to pass on the right.  I stayed put and noticed that there were several cars now lined up behind me.  

I rolled down my window to try to see if the Suburban Man was okay.  Again, he waved me around him.  He then looked into his side view mirror and looked at me and mouthed, “GO!”  I pointed to the oncoming traffic and said, “I can’t.”

At this point, the cars lined up behind us are now tearing around us at Mach 4 speed on the right, and I’m starting to freak out that there’s going to be some kind of accident.  The Suburban Man refused to budge, and when I saw an opening in the oncoming lane, I passed him (legally, might I add!) on the left.  As soon as I got in front of him, Suburban Man started following me.  No, tailing me.  

Imagine: a hugenormous SUV driving mere inches away from the poor, pathetic little fender of a Prius.  And while I can boast all I want to about my Prius‘ fantastic turn radius and decent gas mileage, it takes my little car roughly 9 hours and 60,700 batteries to go from 0 to 60. 

Look! Look how many batteries!!!!!!! One for each mile per hour.

When I saw Marineland, I breathed a sigh of relief and pulled into the parking lot....

....only to watch Suburban Man (let’s call him SUV SOB) follow me in.  I panicked.  Several important questions raced through my mind.

  1. What did I do to deserve this?
  2. Was I going to get slaughtered by some crazy man?
  3. What time was my lunch going to be scheduled for if my shift was so late?

I pulled into a parking spot and looked in my rear view mirror.  Phew, I thought.  I don’t see the SUV SOB anymore.  Maybe he drove away.

I got out of my car and began to walk to the back entrance, which entailed me walking through the parking lot and then back to A1A.  

“Next time, leave early!!!!”

I whipped around at the sound of a strange man’s voice and the hum of a large vehicle.  Oh my god, I thought.  This is it, this guy is going to beat me up.  I need to think of something eloquent, witty, and an appropriate for this situation.

“I’m sorry, I think it is extremely inappropriate behavior for a grown man to follow a woman he doesn’t know.”  My brain said.

“What?” My mouth said.

“If you’re late to work, LEAVE EARLIER!”

“Wait, I’m late to work?” I looked at my watch.


“Wait, what is going on right now?”


“I wasn’t tailing you!  You cut me off earlier, but other than that I stayed a good distance behind you.”


Then, the duality of my personality came into effect: Uniform Cat and Normal Cat.

Uniform Cat:  You stopped on the highway, sir.  I had no idea what was going on.  I’m sorry if I did something to upset you.
Normal Cat:  Eat dirt.

Mmm, dirt pudding.

At this point, I was speed-walking to the entrance.  SUV SOB kept driving next to me with his passenger window down, telling me what a terrible person I was and how I ought to leave earlier to be on time for work.  I ignored him and eventually I got to the door.  He sped off and I never heard from him (or saw him, thank god) again.

I sometimes imagine what I would’ve done had I not been on my way to work.  I probably would’ve said Really Witty Things That Put Him In His Place AND Taught Him Life Lessons.    But I didn’t, and now I guess I have to admit that no matter how awesome my reaction was, it wouldn’t have helped anything.

I do have some consolations about how I handled that situation.  I leave you with them to ponder.

  1. I took the high road, which is usually better (this rule does not apply to siblings)
  2. I was only yelled at, not pummeled by a strange man
  3. I’m not dumb enough to stop in the middle of a 55mph highway to teach someone a lesson
  4. After some careful calculations involving Math and Common Sense, I conclude that this encounter cost the man an addition $6.21 in gas due to a number of factors including the speed at which I walked away from him towards Marineland, his gas mileage, the distance for which he followed me, and my enormous imagination.

    * Such as too much frosting and not enough cupcake


  1. Hahaha, I remember that day! I'm sure you don't miss those school buses or the crazy tourists that can't read the posted speed limit on A1A and instead act like they're taking a Sunday stroll by going 15 mph UNDER the speed limit! :-)

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