I flipped the bird to a lady this morning. I’m not proud of my actions, starting with the fact that I’m way too old to be indulging in such childish gestures.

In my defence, however, I was having rather a bad morning. It had rained during my it’s-still-bloody-dark-out walk and I had yet to have my fifth coffee of the day. Never a good combination.

Plus I felt this particular lady was acting like a total bitch.

The situation began when I dropped Viking Woman off at work. I had my signal on, so everyone knew what I was up to, the car was well clear of the traffic flow, and it was obvious by the fact I was sitting parallel to the road and not pulled into a parking space that I had no intention of doing anything but pausing.

I first spotted the lady when I glanced in my side mirror to ensure I was well and truly out of the driving lane. I could tell by her expression and the way she was yapping to herself that she wasn’t happy. I assumed she wanted the parking spot I was momentarily blocking.

Instead of pulling in behind me and waiting two seconds until I pulled back into traffic, she instead zipped around the corner. Which is where I encountered her, two seconds later, getting out of her parked car. She recognized my vehicle, of course, and carried on with her yapping, this time directed at me as I drove past.

I’ve never claimed to be a lip reader but I’m pretty sure she wasn’t saying “Have a nice day.”

Which is when I lost a bit of self-control and showed her the middle finger of my left hand. She wouldn’t need to be a lip reader either to understand the two words I mouthed right back at her.

I usually don’t give into road rage. Even if someone cuts me off, I rarely engage the horn. I figure if I have time to honk, I have time to brake.

I’m always nervous that two things will happen after I lean on the horn, wave my arms around and run through my entire vocabulary of curse words.

One: The offender and I will end up side-by-side at the next red light.

Two: The offender will be larger and more aggressive than me.

This concern about my personal safety probably dates back to an incident that incurred while I was working for the provincial Ministry of Highways. I was a flag man on this particular day, using my Stop/Go sign to direct traffic around some kind of roadworks.

No one likes to have their hectic/important schedule interrupted by construction, which probably explains why this one particular fellow zoomed right past my Stop sign.

“Asshole!” I yelled at the back of his car as he sped away.

Cue sudden squeal of brakes. Driver’s side door opening. Big glowering guy stomping in my direction.

I had time for three thoughts:

1)      For a guy who was  in such a big hurry, it’s amazing he now has time to deal to me.

2)      I’m almost positive my workmate will intervene. Any minute now. OK, now.

3)      I’m going to die.

Naturally – because that’s how these things work – Mr. Angry Face was taller than me. I’m not sure if my feet actually left the road surface but I know I was at least up on my tippy-toes when he grabbed the front of my safety vest and yanked me into his personal space.

“What did you call me?”

“Nothing,” I lied, momentarily interrupting my prayers.

He gave me one last shake, let go, stomped back to his car.

I straightened my vest, pretended all the other drivers who had actually managed to stop weren’t staring, and looked around for my partner. Turns out he was standing several feet away, well out of harm’s way.

“Where were you?” I asked.

“Watching,” he said.

I still shudder at the thought of how close I came to swallowing my own teeth. Which is why I make a point of never engaging with other drivers.

Unless I haven’t had my fifth coffee of the day.  And the other driver is a woman. And the lane ahead is clear of traffic, allowing me a quick escape.