“Your Driving Hurts My Feelings: A Road Rage Incident in Portland, OR,” by Dusty York

Feb 22nd, 2023 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

I currently live in New York City, but as a young lad I grew up in the beautiful and verdant working class area of Southeast Portland. The side streets are lined with uniquely painted craftsman houses and feature lush yards full of vegetation. People raised families there in this relatively safe neighborhood, and the streets were often filled with children and pets running around. They still are.

In other words: if you recklessly speed through these sides streets, you are a giant, gaping asshole.

I like to get to where I’m going in as little time as necessary but the risk/reward of possibly running over a kid, or God forbid a baby squirrel, makes me traverse these streets at a safe and appropriate speed.

The prick in the Jeep behind me on that day in question did not feel the same way about safe driving in residential neighborhoods as I did. Mind you, I was not driving below the speed limit, I was just not greatly exceeding it. He made his displeasure known by tailgating me within a few inches of my rear bumper.

At that moment I dove back into my aging brain to recall the specific piece of Driver’s Ed that told me how to handle situations like these.

What was it again? Oh yes… pump the brakes. In driving language this translates very directly to “get off my ass.”

I gave my brake pedal a solid pump.

The fury that ensued was monumental. There was honking, screaming, swerving, veering, and a very direct demand to get out and fight him.

I declined the invitation of fisticuffs, although I appreciated it, and continued on my way. He crossed the double yellow line and pulled up beside me to relay a very special message to me: a triangle symbol made with his hands.

This gesture was new to me and I shrugged at him to show my confusion. He carefully mouthed his articulate message: he was calling me a “pussy” because I would not get out and fight him.

He called ME a “pussy.”

At this point I would like to add some context to this story.

I was driving a compact, baby blue, Toyota Prius.

Dude, being called a “pussy” was MY idea. I walked into the car dealership and said “Hi, I am a huge pussy. What’s the best car for someone like me?”

The sales person replied “Well, I’ve got this eggshell blue butt-plug-on-wheels, would you be interested in something like that?”

“Tell me more,” I cooed.

The salesperson jumped into action, “It’s amazing, it runs on avocados and John Lennon songs. Just play ‘Imagine’ on repeat and you’ll never have to put gas in it!”

This did indeed sound amazing, but I had one more crucial question.

“If I am in this car, will there be any confusion about me being the kind of person that will get out and fight someone over a road rage incident?” I queried.

The salesperson shook his head “no” with the confidence of an asshole aggressively tailgating someone in a residential neighborhood.

“I’ll take it,” I said, and happily drove off the lot with John Lennon’s greatest hits blasting from the stereo.

I hate John Lennon but I hate buying gas even more.

After I drove away from the scene of the incident my mind replayed many alternate realities where I did accept his invitation to rumble. I lost a fight when I was younger. What were the chances I would go 0-2?

I could have pelted him with underripe avocados. Those things hurt.

I could have broken one of the empty kombucha bottles I had rolling around on the floor of my car. When times get desperate, almost anything could be a formidable weapon. This is Portland, bitch. We take ass-whooping AND healthy gut bacteria seriously.

I got to thinking—what if he lost—how embarrassing would that be for him?

“Todd! What happened to your face, bro?”

“I got my ass kicked by a Prius driver. Maybe next time I should leave a safe following distance when I’m driving through a residential neighborhood.”

I woke up from my daydream of a victorious fight over Todd the Tailgater, took a swig of kombucha, and cranked up “Imagine” as I made my way to the co-op, smugly passing every gas station on the way.

This is Portland, bitch. Your driving hurt my feelings.


Dusty York is an author and award-winning filmmaker in Brooklyn, NY. He’s a contributor to The Funny Times and has a book, Hairball Blues: Essays Written by My Cat, coming out in 2023.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.