Thursday was a long day.
It started out great as I was covering the new virtual reality experience (Rage of the Gargoyles) available at Six Flags in Vallejo, which I live relatively close to. I was all pumped to eat lunch, get back to the office and share my story about battling gargoyles while my legs dangled upside down on a roller coaster, but as I pulled out of the parking lot, the tone of the day quickly changed.
A car came up speeding behind me and began to tailgate me. Thinking maybe she didn’t realize how close she was, I slowed down a little.
Apparently, she had realized. In fact, it was on purpose. But why?
The road we were on was about to go down to one lane due to some roadwork in the area, which I knew because I had been driving in the opposite direction just hours before, and the speed limit was 45 mph. We were going 50 – or maybe a little over – but I was slowing down early because I knew that the workers were still out there with their “STOP” and “SLOW” signs.
As we approached them, though, my buddy behind me was getting more and more agitated. Not only was she nose-to-bumper, but from my rearview mirror I could see her flipping out. She swerved her vehicle left and right. There was no place to really let her in front of me, I wasn’t going to speed up and I started to worry about the innocent worker who may be run over if she were to get around me.
Surely, once she saw the workers for herself, she would understand.
At the construction site we stopped. She was yelling and screaming, causing the workers to laugh and me to close my windows.
I thought it was funny, too, until she started taking off her jacket, jewelry, and seatbelt. It seemed she was taking things off for an eternity. How much jewelry did she have on?
This was the point when I realized things could get serious.
I took a breath and prepared myself for what could have been my first real fight. At what point do I get out of the car? At what point do I call the cops? What if she has a weapon? Should I put my hair up or is a ponytail easier to manhandle?
I think there were too many witnesses, though, so when the stop sign was turned, we went through the intersection and I let her pass me.
Pulling up to the next light, I was going to be positioned to the right of her, but I hesitated. I took down her license plate and vehicle description. Figuring things may have calmed down, or that maybe she would have a big pregnant belly, which would cause all to be forgiven, I pulled up next to her so I could make my turn.
I looked to my left and she was sprawled over the passenger seat, practically out of the window with her camera phone directed at me, screaming profanities.
“You ain’t in New Jersey anymore,” she said – a reference to my license plate –following with a warning that I could be shot as well as some derogatory language toward her fellow women, i.e. me.
I just looked at her… speechless. I didn’t respond. What did she want me to say? Do? What was she hoping to capture on camera? Is she posting my face somewhere? Putting out a hit on my car? On me?
I was confused and pretty freaked out, yet still somewhat amused.
I fumbled with my phone to dial 911, but wasn’t sure that this counted as an emergency. I didn’t want to press charges against her – she hadn’t really done anything, but aren’t you supposed to report road rage? I’m a crime reporter and here I am not sure if this is a reportable crime.
Before heading back to the office, I went back home to decompress. I made my boyfriend, who had also covered the Six Flags event and was behind the road rager, pull behind my car to hide it (just in case).
He wasn’t as shaken as me, but admitted to watching the whole thing, ready to pounce on the woman and rip her off me had it escalated. (My guardian angel!)
Within 10 minutes, I reported it to police dispatchers so they would have a record in case the woman’s road rage continued onto the highway or if she hunts me and my car down. Better safe than sorry.
“She was probably having a bad day,” offered my boyfriend. I agreed, but some things shouldn’t be said. Not only did she mention weaponry, but she also acted like being from New Jersey meant I lived in a bubble or made it onto an episode of “Jersey Shore.”
Girl, please! You know nothing. You don’t mess with a Jersey girl.