We all have a job to do. Well the fortunate majority anyway, and although I’m lucky enough to be in a career with a sizeable amount of variety, it does contain some tasks that are the same for many others. Namely the need to get around the country, to various places at various times of day.
That in itself isn’t a problem either. There’s still pleasure to be had in setting off on journey, planning the route, choosing the tunes or perhaps selecting a talk radio station where the opinions will either inform and entertain or massively irritate. Even the roads themselves aren’t too bad, even if that faint praise comes with a few well-chosen caveats.
Sadly the thing that ruins the driving experience these days tends to be the thousands of others you have to share it with. Obvious of course – an empty road is one of life’s ephemeral pleasures – but even then it is a nagging minority that causes all the trouble.
Idiots I can deal with. You can usually see them coming: an aggressive switching of lanes, a lack of signalling and a complete absence of a gap to the car in front. Steer well clear and they’ll soon be off up the motorway to annoy someone else. Good riddance.
But in recent months I’ve been bugged by an even greater menace. Well, it’s a greater menace to me anyway – aggressive courtesy. Stay with me on this one: I know it sounds ridiculous but my blood pressure is an accurate indicator of how irritating something is and this new phenomena is really blowing the gauges.
Picture the scene. You’re in the inside lane of the motorway, cruising along happily at the legal limit (obviously), very little traffic around. There’s a HGV ahead at typical HGV-speed, so a move into lane two is required.
Look in your door mirror and there’s nothing there at all, apart from another car possibly 100 yards or more behind, moving at a very similar speed. So you indicate and look again just to be sure, but before you start to move that car behind – which is still ten car lengths behind – flashes you.
I’ll admit I’m making the assumption that this person hasn’t flashed to warn me that my car is on fire or that I’m about to be attacked by a giant flying monster, which can only mean they are giving me ‘the OK’ to pull out.
Well excuse me, but I think I’m old enough and ugly enough to make that decision for myself. Fine, flash me if you think there isn’t enough space, because after all the Highway Code says you should only flash to warn another road user of your presence, but to tell me that it’s safe to pull out? That space is big enough for ten cars!
I feel insulted that another road user thinks so little of the people around them that they feel the need to pass their judgement on their actions in case they should make an error. It’s a wonder they don’t wear high-vis jackets as an indicator of their assumed authority.
Frankly this is an irritation I could well do without. I’d rather have people bellowing out of their windows a stream of swearwords admonishing someone else’s driving than a sanctimonious fool attempting to direct the traffic around them. If you’re one of these people, stop it and stop it now. You have been warned.
By Matt Joy