IN OUR OPINION Anger issues ...on wheels

Road rage is an intriguing phenomenon. No doubt, we have all experienced its grip to one degree or another, whether it has emerged in a combative form such as trying to run another car into a ditch or more passively by simply muttering a curse word at the perceived offender. It seems that getting behind the steering wheel of a ton or two of rolling metal unleases the aggressor in us all.

Islanders certainly have fallen under its spell in recent years as the number of moving objects in a finite space have increased dramatically. It’s particularly noticeable the closer we get to the ferry terminus, you know, the dead end that signifies either our return or escape from the rock. Case in point: Ferry-line rage.

An island woman, driving her family east on Winslow Way toward a boat trip to Seattle, merged with the traffic from SR-305 (the “no turn” sign wasn’t in place that day) and slipped into the ferry line. After parking in the packed loading area, she got out to retrieve something for her children from the back of the car.

“A man approached me, I thought to stop and say hello and chat about my bumper; sticker – your typical ferry-waiting, friendly exchange. Door still open so my kids could hear every word, the man insisted I had cut him off and harassed me with some unimaginative hand gestures. Several times he used a word rhyming with ‘witch,’ modified by a word beginning with the letter ‘f.’”

The tantrum was lengthy, the woman said, and ended only when a police officer standing nearby responded to the noise. The man walked away, but the officer caught up with him and discussed the situation for a few minutes before it was time to load the boat. Later, the woman wrote a cathartic note to herself – directed at the man, who, the police officer said, lives on the island.

“There are a number of wonderful mental health care professionals on Bainbridge that, I am sure, can help you learn to deal with your anger issues so you won’t repeat this incident and embarrass yourself again. Perhaps you should avoid the ferry-waiting area, or driving altogether, until you have your problem under control. Best of luck.”

Staying away from “ground zero” for island drivers is not an option for most of us, and there are many other “merger” nightmares that test our tolerance level. One of the worst is the end of the right-hand lane as you leave Poulsbo headed south toward Bainbridge. Another is the merging of two lanes as you drive north just after the 305-High School Road intersection. If you like to play “chicken” from zero to 50 mph it’s a lot of fun. If not, well, it can be entertaining to watch others do it.

It can be dangerous, of course , sometimes leading to an injury accident when two idiots find themselves headed in the same direction at the same time and decide to play “dueling cars.” If you happen to witness such childish behavior and are interested in the final result of their stupidity, the Police Blotter often keeps score.

The island has many challenges for our driving skills and tempers, including some teeth-grinding four-way stops and a great roundabout. They can be fun, at least if you have learned that a sense of humor may actually keep you from making a fool of yourself each day you venture out.

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