UNFASHIONABLE FINGER: You might say I'm a reformed bird flipper. I used to flip the bird over a variety of annoying car incidents--getting cut off, horn honking, lewd, rolling tongues aimed my way. Occasionally I employed it in nasty personal arguments, but I always felt bad afterwards. Okay, not always.
The reason I literally sit on my hands now in traffic is because of the escalating responses aimed at me and my friends. We've discussed them at length, with more fear than laughter.
The incident that cured me for good happened late at night on Speedway. A guy in one of those ugly black trucks, pumped up way beyond its wheels, mud flaps like loin cloths intermittently showing off his "Big Tires of My Big Truck," started tailgating me. There was plenty of room on the road--I still have no idea what was up his tailpipe that night. When he finally passed, I gave him the finger, because for some skewed, prideful reason, I felt I should be the one to point out his failures to him.
He zoomed in front of me, ducked down a side street and reemerged moments later, lights blinding me in my rearview mirror. The internal neon "Woman In Trouble" sign started flashing through my bloodstream. Realizing I was between nowhere and nothing, I headed downtown toward the police station. He stayed right on me, just enough to scare the crap out of me, right up until I pulled in front of the cop shop on Stone Avenue. As I pulled over he drove past me, and for just one instant I thought of giving him the finger again. "Wrong," flashed my warning system.
When you flip someone off you don't expect the other person to go bonkers, but given the right day, the right time, the right drug and alcohol mixture, they might. When Pima County Attorney David White made what was reported as an "obscene gesture" at a driver who cut him off a few weekends back, the guy, one Leonard Dewey Hobbs, followed him home and hit him a bunch of times with some kind of wooden baton.
White was supposed to be in court the following Monday to argue a case involving Mark Alan Austin, the creep who got off on an insanity defense after slaughtering his estranged wife, Laura Griffin-Austin. White didn't show.
It wasn't until three days later that White, stitched up, appeared to argue that Austin's case should be held in criminal court, where Laura's family can testify. It was important work because Austin doesn't deserve another freedom ever--like the freedom to carry a weapon, which he's asking for--and Laura's family deserves the right to tell the court that.
Herein then, a plea. Attorney, postal worker, cook, bicyclist, poet, builder, singer, nurse: I've heard your stories, they're as bad as mine and worse. While you're adding no more flashing brights at drivers with their lights turned off, please add no more fingers. I like you too much and you have good work to do.
Try to keep your hands in your pockets, warriors.
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