The words above strike fear into the heart of many. Young woman driver. Small car. Pretty much a death trap on wheels at high speed.
Based on a few experiences I’ve had over the last few days (and over the last few years) I wanted to share my opinions (and they are purely my opinions, so feel free to pick them apart!) and observations from driving.
I was a late starter with driving, I didn’t get my license until I was 26. It was driven (HA! Get it? …sorry, no more puns) purely by necessity, in that I needed to get to my job at University of Queensland (at the time) from my home base in very north Brisbane – so north, in fact, we’re not even *in* Brisbane, though I can see the lovely “Welcome to Brisbane” sign if I drive to the end of my street.
The car I learnt to drive in was a Suzuki Swift. The car I own is a Suzuki Swift. I love my car. It’s small, it’s cute, stuff fits in it, it gets me from point a to point b in a reasonable amount of time, it corners *REALLY* well. It’s a car.
For some reason, the combination of this car and myself together enrages some people. I wish I knew why. I *know* I’m not the best driver in the world, I know I make stupid mistakes, I know I’m guilty of driving too fast, insane lane changes, dragging off at the lights too quickly and forgetting to mirror check. But I’d like to point out that so are a lot of other people. Just because I’m a young woman in a small car doesn’t give any other driver on the road the right to intimidate me because they thought I did something stupid. If they thought a large truckie in a 16 wheeler did something stupid they wouldn’t do the same shit that I’ve had done to me.
My first example is from only a few hours ago, which is what spurred this post. Driving back from a friends place, waiting at a set of lights behind a 4WD with a trailer on the back, who had conveniently blocked the left hand lane with his trailer. When the lights turned green and he had finally positioned himself in his lane, I was able to use said left lane and over take him at his measly 35kph.
You honestly would’ve thought I’d killed his daughter or something equally horrific.
I spent the next 20 minutes fearing for my safety and my car as this guys tail gates me at some fairly high speeds purely because I overtook him.
What. The. Fuck.
What made it worse was the fact that he had not only his wife in the car, who appeared to be egging him on, but also three kids in the back seat.
It’s now okay to put your kids lives in danger because you think someone slighted you on the road? *REALLY*?
My best example of this (and this won’t be new to those of you who know me rather well, pretty sure I told a few people about this!) is on my regular drive to and from work in Brisbane city, around April last year. On one particular morning, traffic was extremely bad due to someone parked in a ‘No Standing’ zone on a main road. As I knew the area rather well (it’s where my old high school was) I knew of a way to avoid some of the congestion – there was a ‘KEEP CLEAR’ area ahead to turn down a side street. However the left lane was at a stand-still, so waiting in the left lane to turn down this street was just going to waste my time. Knowing that traffic was stopped (the lights were a very nice shade of red) I went up the right lane to go down this side street as the ‘KEEP CLEAR’ was being obeyed by everyone (a fact that I thought was quite nice at the time!). I would like to point out that I *know* I was doing the wrong thing – turning left, from the right lane = bad juju. However traffic WASN’T MOVING. AT ALL.
So I turned. The guy who was on the back part of the ‘KEEP CLEAR’ nearly lost his shit. Horns blaring, almost tried to ram my car with his. I can only assume he thought I was trying to push in instead of turn down the street. I kept going and forgot about it entirely.
Get back onto the main road further up (bottleneck has now cleared) and I’m driving along the main stretch heading towards work. All of a sudden the car in front of my slams on their breaks and starts doing about 20kph. Thinking something must be going on, I start paying a bit more attention to the guy in front.
I really wish I hadn’t.
Mr. “I think you’re trying to push in” is now in front of me, has remembered me from our previous encounter, and is now swearing his head off while looking in his rear view mirror, making some interesting and rather obscene hand gestures, all while driving 20kph down a main road. Because he was pissed at me from before. What made it worse was him signalling me to pull over and making slashing gestures across his neck.
Sure, dude, I’ll be more than happy to pull over so you can try and gut me with your keys. NOT.
Manage to get ahead of him, after taking his number plate. Didn’t report it because I honestly thought he was just a nut job who either hadn’t had any action in a while or who’s wife had left him because he was a psychotic prick.
Have to admit, it was intensely scary. It’s not the kind of thing you expect to happen on the roads at 7am in the morning. It was a “wind up your windows, lock your doors, pray your glass doesn’t shatter if they throw something” kind of moment. It made me a little paranoid to be on the road, especially since I’d only had my license for 7 months at that point. I was honestly scared to drive to work the following day, in fear of seeing this idiot again. But a day passed and I didn’t see him. A week passed and I didn’t see him. 2 weeks passed and I didn’t see him. Figured by this point all was good.
HA! That’s when you know shit’s about to go wrong…
Driving home one afternoon about 3 or 4 weeks after the first incident, past our local shopping centre, minding my own business, singing along (off key, as usual) to In Flames, and the guy in front of me slams on his breaks and starts doing 20kph.
You guessed it, and no, I’m not fucking with you.
It was THE SAME GUY. I knew, because his number plate was embedded in my memory (and still is, to this day). Same business as before – hand gestures, swearing, signalling me to pull over. This lasted close to 15 minutes, because it was busy peak hour traffic and there was nowhere for me to go. People behind me were honking, people were speeding past me getting shitty at *ME*, and this guy kept doing the same thing, wanting me to pull over to do the Gods only know what to me and my car.
I was, I’m not ashamed to admit, absolutely fucking shitting myself. The fact that this guy remembered me, and had this much hatred towards me? I truly had no idea what would’ve happened had he managed to get me to pull over. I was shaking.
I will admit, the first incident of me turning left in front of him? I did the wrong thing. I deserved to have the horn honked at me, a few swear words thrown at me (even I called myself a stupid bitch for doing it!) and that’s fine. But this much hatred because I turned in front of him while he was totally stopped? Because he thought I *might* get in front of him?
I don’t understand it. My brain just doesn’t comprehend it. I just cannot wrap my head around how someone can hold onto something so small for so long and want to physically assult someone weeks after that incident. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.
This post isn’t just about young female drivers – that just describes me in particular. It’s about all drivers who have to deal with this. When did this kind of anger and hatred and want for violence become okay?