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Posted: June 04, 2012

Rage against the rude

It's not just a road thing

David Sneed

I had to go to the DMV for a renewal.  As I wobbled in a tiny plastic chair contemplating Dante’s description of Hell, I overheard a father and daughter nearby.  He was gracing her with last-minute advice before she began her driving career.

“When you get on the highway, move to the left lane. Cars won’t be getting on or off, and you only have to pay attention to the guy in front of you. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing; just watch the guy in front and you’ll be fine.”

Hearing this both put my mind at ease, and made me wonder. That is to say I was confused and horrified that these instructions were being given to anyone, much less a Justin Beiber fan fixing to pilot a cruise missile on the Interstate.

The part that made me feel better was that now I understood. I understood that the doofus doing 55 in the left lane while texting isn’t out to ruin my day - they just don’t know any better.

I’m scared, on the other hand, because her dad is an idiot.  Driving is about so much more than what the car in front of you is doing, and she’ll never know that. Her father taught her what his father probably taught him: driving is all about you.

A few weeks ago I heard the topic of road rage discussed on a radio show. The DJ was making the easy argument that we only act like aggressive lunatics when we’re in a car.
I disagree; and so does anyone who’s ever tried to get around the four-abreast family at the mall. The problem is one of courtesy – the understanding that other people also live here.

Try to tell me that you’ve never walked 200 yards in a straight line down an airport concourse to have someone come out from a shop, walk a few feet in your direction, and just stop directly in your path. This isn’t just a road issue. I suffer sidewalk rage, too.

Let me return to the common defenses to discourtesy in a car.  You have every right to drive 54 in the left lane, but let me make two points:

1) The sign says “Slower cars keep right,” not “Cars going less than the speed limit keep right” for a reason.

2) You have every right not to say hello or accept a handshake, and you are within your rights to chew with your mouth open.  But you don’t, and the reason is the courtesy slapped into you by your mother at Thanksgiving dinner.

We don’t teach driving etiquette, and that’s a shame. Here’s what I told my kids: If you cause someone to use their brakes when they otherwise wouldn’t - you’re doing something wrong. I taught them the Golden Rule applies to driving just like it applies everywhere else in life.

I’m not the best driver technically speaking - I can barely stay in my lane - but I do know what other people around me are doing (or about to do) and I make allowances for them. I believe that Social Awareness should be taught beginning in 2nd grade, and to get a driver’s license you should have to prove you possess it.


David Sneed is the owner of Alpine Fence Company,and the author of" Everyone Has A Boss– The Two Hour Guide to Being the Most Valuable Employee at Any Company." As a Marine, father, employee and boss, David has learned how to help others succeed. He teaches the benefits of a strong work ethic to entry and mid-level employees. Contact him at

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Readers Respond

You guys all have it right on. Social awareness - Those who have it care; those who don't, don't even understand the conversation. By David E on 2012 06 06
Good points. Courtesy and common sense are fading. My gripe is at the baggage claim at the airport. Why does an entire family of five, mom on a cell phone with a baby strapped in a stroller, dad with five carryons, plus grandma in a wheel chair and grandpa with cane have to stand right there taking up twenty feet of space and watch every bag go by? Then they get one of their eight bags and continue to stand there. Lather, rinse, repeat. If everyone would take a few steps back and only step forward when their bag comes around, grab their bag, and then step back again we'd all get through a bit easier. By Kurt on 2012 06 06
Courtesy seems to be a lost art and I'm sad to say it appears to be growing and spreading in our society. Too bad common sense is not always commonly practiced. There is even a professional speaker who is amassing frequent bookings putting people through Courtesy Boot Camp. She teaches everything your mother drilled into you, but somewhere along the road, you marginalized. I only hope courtesy will make a come-back. It can be a painful discovery when each of us realizes, as you targeted, "It's not all about me." But surprisingly, it somehow is a much happier existence. By Neal Browne on 2012 06 06
Great article! My pet peeve is with elevators. When I'm on a elevator and reach a floor, those waiting for the elevator pile in without waiting for those ON the elevator to get off of it. Another one is people who are in such a hurry that they shove past an elderly or disabled person who is walking more slowly than they'd like. I've seen people almost cause someone to fall. Whatever that person in a hurry is doing, it will wait a couple of minutes until they can safely say "excuse me, please" and pass the slower individual. What ever happened to respect for age? By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2012 06 04
Great article! Any chance you could turn this into a presentation at a school assembly for kids and a movie for the multitude of parents who need your wisdom? Rudeness is just not on our streetes and highways. We have an on-going situation in Cherry Creek where my neighbors and I have literally been screamed at for posting "we've already fertilized" signs for dog owners who bring their dogs to our yards for relief. One woman yelled at the top of her lungs that we were, 'evil, ugly, mean... and this is what dogs do; if we don't like it, we need to move out to the country.' I've come to beleive that of all the degrees our universities offer, the most important they lack is a parenting class. By Marsha on 2012 06 04
Well spoken! By Jere Heavener on 2012 06 04
Funny. It sounds like someone had a bad day. By Ron Howard on 2012 06 04
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