Back in the previous century now, I was going home after work. The traffic was unusually bad, no, I take that back; it was wretched beyond belief! When I was about 5 miles from my home the traffic came to a complete stand still. I was inching forward ever 30 seconds or so. But not to worry, I am prepared for this inevitability, which happens far more than I wish it did. I had a book, my current read. I started reading: reading and inching. I wasn’t paying much attention to the traffic, to the vehicles around me, to the heat outside. I was racing along in the world of my book as I inched forward in the real world.
Finally, after about 30 minutes, I reached the right turn onto my street and put my book away. The red van in front of me also turned onto my street. I followed. Suddenly, about 500 feet down the street, the red van locked its tires coming to a screeching stop. I was shocked as this was completely unexpected. I hit my brakes full force and came to a safe stop without hitting the van. We just sat there. I wondered why the driver had stopped. I thought a child must have unexpectedly run out in front of the van, or maybe an animal, a pet. But surely the issue justifying the stop would have been resolved by now, yet here we still sat, stopped on the road. What was the deal?
I tried to look around in front of the van to see what had happened. Nothing was apparent. Finally, I decided to go around the stopped van. Perhaps the driver had mechanical failure. As I pulled around I could see no reason for the sudden stop. Perplexed, I looked up at the driver as I passed. The woman was in a rage. She was screaming at me. She alternated between shaking her fist at me and beating them on the steering wheel while making horrible faces, and she appeared to be swearing like a sailor.
My goodness. Why was she in a rage, and, even more odd, why was she directing her rage at me?! I had no clue at all. Bewildered by the strange sequence of events, I drove on, rounded the sharp curve, turned into my driveway and drove up into my carport, reflecting on the odd incident. As was my custom at the time, I got out of my car and started to walk down the driveway to get the day’s junk mail. About half way down the driveway (literally, as I live on a steep hill), the woman in the red van rounded the curved driving very, very slowly. When she arrived near the entrance to my driveway, she stopped.
She was insane with rage. Still screaming, swearing, shaking her fist at me, pounding them on her steering wheel, giving me the finger, pointing at me, and gunning her van as if she were about to charge up the driveway to run over me. What the hell was wrong with this lunatic?! I had a serious lapse in judgment…
I was furious that she would threaten me, and for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I was suddenly walking down my driveway egging her on, gesturing for her to come on, to run over me. I was so angered by the fact that she would threaten me, that I was literally daring her, no, demanding that she carry out her threat.
She responded by becoming more enraged and out of control, if such were possible. She was gunning the van harder and longer. This, of course, sent my adrenaline through the roof. I was uttering language most unfit for the gentleman that I consider myself to be. I was determined not to back down, no matter what. Let her run over me. I dared her to do it both in what I said and my gestures. She wasn’t going to back down. She decided to call my bluff. Only, I wasn’t bluffing.
She floored her van and started charging up the hill that is my driveway. I was now completely enraged. How dare she! I kept walking directly toward her oncoming van, egging her on, gesturing for her to run over me, swearing as badly as she was, and looking her straight in the eyes. She charged her van up the driveway. I was not going to back down. Go ahead, run over me. She continued up the driveway.
Talk about out of control! At this point, we both were. At the last possible instant, she realized I wasn’t backing down no matter what she did. She cut her steering wheel as hard as she could, actually struck me (just my little tummy) as she veered away, and, with all of my might, I slammed both of my fists on the short hood of her van hoping to dent the hell out of it. She ran over my metal mailbox, bending it over flat to the ground as she entered back onto the street and sped away at an extreme rate of speed. I hoped the metal post of my mailbox seriously dented the front of her van.
As she raced down the street, I desperately tried to read her tag, but the sun was directly in my eyes and, even shielding my eyes from the bright setting sun, I could only make out the first letter of the tag, X and the fact that it appeared to be a Florida tag. The graphic looked like an orange and not a peach.
I was stunned. I was shocked. What had just happened? What had caused all of this? Why did she start this whole situation? Had I actually done something of which I was totally unaware to cause her initial rage? Why had I responded in the way I did? I had never been in such a situation and had no idea this level of sheer raw emotional response lived inside of this mild mannered man called Tim.
As my mind raced, bathed in an adrenaline rush the likes of which I had seldom experienced before, I rapidly processed through all of this. One recurring thought kept returning to the forefront of my thinking: this lunatic knows where I live. What will she do? Will she burn down my house while I’m at work? Shoot out all of my windows? Will she stalk me? Who the hell is she?! What is she capable of doing? She was crazy. I decided the smartest thing to do was call the police. I wanted her arrested for wreckless driving, assault with a vehicle, and anything else with which she could be charged. I called 911.
I told the person who answered what had happened. She said an officer would call me and make a report. A few minutes later I received a call from one of my city’s finest, who had an exceptionally thick accent. I could not understand much of what he said. I continuously had to ask him to repeat his question in my attempt to understand what he was asking. I actually had to ask him to repeat some things 4 and 5 times.
Additionally, he obviously had one of the police radios next to telephone as it was constantly blaring into my ear making understanding him all but utterly impossible. I was not impressed. I told him exactly what had happened: what she and I both did and said. I gave him the tag number fragment and asked that he be sure to write it in the report.
He stated that there was nothing that would be done about this, but that if I ever found out who she was to let them know. At least, that’s what I think he said. He told me he would file the report in case any further incidents occurred.
But the story doesn’t end here. The next day I told everyone at work what had happened. They were all utterly horrified at how stupid I had been. I was rather amazed myself as I am normally so logical and not easily excited. I desperately wanted to know who this woman in red was, and why she had responded to me the way she did.
Several weeks later my mother came up to visit. I told her what had happened. She too was disgusted at the stupidity of my response.
One morning, during my mom’s visit, I was on my way to work. The weather was drizzly and dreary. I came to a stop at the light at the end of my street, waiting to turn onto the main road, right where the woman in red first slammed on her brakes weeks earlier. The light turned green and the three vehicles (I was the last one of them) made the left turn onto the main road. I was in my usual early morning on-the-way-to-work stupor and was not paying much attention to anything but the yucky weather. Unexpectedly, there was… an incident.
The red van that had been in front of me at the traffic light started blowing its horn. O my god! This was the same red van. It was the woman in red! She was now several cars ahead of me in the rush hour traffic, and I couldn’t get close enough to read the tag. Cars in front of me blocked my view. The weather was drizzly and hazy. She was out of control. She was gunnning her van again at the car in front of her, seriously tailgating the car, and blowing her horn over and over again! She was angry at this driver for some reason. I couldn’t get to her because she ran a red light at a major intersection to chase down the car that had been in front of her. She sped away into the drizzly haze as I came to a stop.
I had to know who this nut was. I told everyone at work. She must live near me. She was driving down my street again, this time on the way to work. I called my mother at the house and told her to go sit out in the front yard around 5:00pm and look for a red van.
The van had a bumper sticker that said I belong in the zoo. Damn, that was a fact! Cage this lunatic up! When I got home that evening, my mother was not in the front yard. I was so disappointed. I really wanted to catch this woman and turn her in to the police. She was dangerous. She was crazy. She was road rage.
After dropping off my briefcase and getting mother, we got in the car to go to a restaurant for dinner. As we backed to the end of my driveway, I was telling my mother how badly I wanted to catch the woman in the red van, that she was dangerous. I told her that she had to live around my neighborhood someplace. I wanted to talk mother into doing some detective work.
I had to stop at the end of the driveway to let the vehicle coming around the corner pass. I wasn’t paying much attention because I was talking to mom. My mother said, Well, maybe this is her here. Yeah, right. Like that’s going to happen: we are talking about her, and she suddenly appears coming around the very corner where she gunnned her van to run over me. The van passed by and I backed onto the street. O my god! It was her. I saw the Florida tag and the zoo bumper sticker. I was stunned!
She obviously feared I would recognize her because she sped down the road at outrageous speed, easily in excess of 60 miles an hour (in our 25 zone). I would never have been able to catch up with her had a car in front of her not stopped to turn left and had to wait until several oncoming cars passed. We got the tag number!! I had her! She sped away at high speed as we headed on to the restaurant.
I called the police. It took them 2 weeks to find my initial report. They had filed it in the wrong place, under theft or some such thing. I told them what had happened, and that they needed to do something before this person killed herself or someone else on the road. The tag did start with an X and was from Florida. The police said they could do nothing because, despite my request when I first reported this incident, the tag number fragment was not in the report. I was so disappointed and disgusted at the first officer’s lack of professionalism.
I have never seen the woman in red again and will be most content if I never do. Hopefully she hasn’t killed someone on the road. Despite the fact that the song is Lady in Red, I refer to her as my woman in red. She is anything but a lady.