Gah, what a weird thing.
So, I’m in my car on my way out of work, talking to Ben on my cell (wearing my ear snigget). I pull out of the parking lot and up to the red light. I notice in the lane-going-straight there’s a car pulled up beyond the stop-line. That’s a little odd, but since the light rail goes through this intersection, the civil engineers left plenty of extra room, so it’s not actually dangerous. Then I notice that the dome light is on in the car. Hmm, not usually safe while driving. So, I pull up in the lane-turning-right (because I’m turning right), whose stop-line is lined up with where the car is stopped, even tho the car is beyond its own line, and I peer in the window. Just quickly, just long enough to notice there’s a woman driver, and she’s leaning over something. I assume she’s digging in her purse. And then I look forward again, and the light turns green. Still talking to Ben, I start going. And suddenly she honks, for no apparent reason, and I’m just like… wha…? And I keep turning, because she can’t have been honking at me, I wasn’t anywhere near her… and from the lane-going-straight, she turns right, following me. I wonder if she’s honking because she didn’t realize that I was in the right turning lane, and that there *is* a right turning lane, and she really meant to be going right and was mad that I was rude? I dunno.
But she pulls up next to me on my right (I had turned into the left lane, because I was going to go left onto the on-ramp onto 280), and starts yelling at me through her open window as we’re driving. I’m thinking WTF? (I probably even said WTF to Ben.) I can’t hear or understand most of what she’s saying, except that she’s calling me a bitch, and something about me looking at her. Seriously?
So, now that she’s next to me, I notice that she’s a black woman, seeming really big and definitely loud. And that’s all I notice, before facing forward again, figuring that ignoring her is the best option. As I pull up to the red light at the next intersection, I think about how to get out of this situation. How bad would it be to drive through the red light? Bad, don’t do that. How likely is she to get out and attack me? Well, I’m sure I can step on the gas faster than she can get out of her car and break my window. So I just stop at the light, facing forward, trying to stay out of it.
She’s still yelling, I can’t hear everything she says through the window, but really pissed, and “bitch” a few more times. And she says, “Oh yeah, now you can’t look at me”, so I look at her. And I give her the nicest smile I can muster, and I shout “Have a nice day” through my still-closed window. Niceness doesn’t seem to faze her.
And then she shouts at me to pull over–I’m still not clear if she meant to fight me or what–and I say no. I really don’t want to react, I’m trying to think how to respond without escalating the problem, how to not get involved. I’m thinking … dude, you’re big and scary, and I’m this skinny little white girl. I know who’s gonna win this fight, and it’s not me. And seriously, pulling over? What?
She keeps shouting, I dunno what, probably calling me bitch again, because* when light turns green I give her the finger as I start moving. I pull onto the freeway, and she doesn’t follow.
At about that time, Ben chimes in again. He says he could hear some of her shouts through the window, and says something like, “Well, don’t get any on you”. I’m pretty shaken, adrenaline pumping and that fear-feeling tingling through my back.
It took about half the drive for that feeling to subside.
And I’m thinking, is there really an expectation of privacy in one’s car in the middle of a public road? I mean… you’ve got these 360° windows at the same height as everyone else’s 360° windows. I was just idly glancing in, apparently peering a little more interestedly than I intended, because I was mostly paying attention to what Ben was saying, not what my eyes were looking at. And really–pull over? What on Earth for?
Gah. Most people think I’m nice.
* Causality here because I must’ve been reacting to something she said if I finally decided to flip her off, and not any time before then. I remember I didn’t just feel safer because I was driving–though that was true, too–but I was reacting to something specific. I just don’t remember what.