Many years ago, when I was a callow youth, I bought a sort of compact flip-chart thingy that was intended to be kept in the car and used to signal a variety of messages to other drivers. Among those I can remember: There were also a couple of rude communications, one of them casting doubt on other road users’ human ancestry.
It’s since occurred to me that this kind of in-car accessory might go a long way towards eliminating road rage incidents. Think about this for a moment: when we do something seriously dumb behind the wheel, reducing another motorist to apoplectic rage, we generally acknowledge our mistake by raising a hand. This incredibly lame gesture fails to convey what the other driver really wants to hear, which is something on the lines of the following: “I know I’ve just done something incredibly stupid, and if I live to be a hundred, I’ll never be able to adequately express my regret. Please accept my unconditional apology for this reprehensible act and by way of compensation, be so good as to accept my unborn children as your indentured servants until the end of time.”
Alternatively, you could turn to your handheld flip-chart, select a suitable message (“Sorry!” would be good) and immediately defuse the situation. Be careful, though: if the person you’ve just offended is a 200 kg stock farmer named Fanie, holding up a sign reading “Hello, beautiful” would definitely be counter-productive.
* We invite PM readers to proffer their own solutions to the scourge of road rage. If you suffer from this malady yourself, and can offer practical advice on dealing with it, we’d like to hear from you.