Vigilantes decide that they are the ones who need to oversee justice. It isn’t their job, but they think they get to punish people who are doing something wrong.
While this may sound good (“Shouldn’t bad people be punished?”), it often has terrible outcomes. After all, people don’t necessarily take criticism well in any form, let alone from someone who isn’t supposed to be criticizing.
Say a group of students is working together on a project. One of them decides that they are “the teacher” and tells the other students how dumb they are for getting something wrong. Naturally, the other students don’t appreciate this because that kid is a student just like them.
Vigilantes, though, deal more with people breaking the law.
One example of vigilantism that really irritates me is when people try to “brake check” someone who clearly has no regard for the safety of others on the road. Don’t get me wrong – I cannot stand when someone is an unsafe driver. People who speed through school zones, weave in and out of traffic, cut people off, run stop signs and lights. They are putting other people at risk because they think they are above the law. I always feel a sense of happiness when I see a car that was weaving through the road only minutes earlier now pulled over by a cop.
But I tend to leave it there. Because I am a huge believer in karma.
I also am an incredibly defensive driver. I have been in several bad accidents. The worst was about seven years ago? It had been sleeting and had just started lightening up. The roads were still incredibly icy. Another car cut off my friend on the freeway. We swerved to avoid rear-ending that other car and due to the icy roads, the car spun. Suddenly, we were facing the wrong way on the free way. We got hit directly. The car actually flipped into the air and over several lanes into a ditch. The car was totaled. We both actually had to be cut out of it. He broke his arm and I broke my nose and elbow. We were both very bruised and cut up, both with black eyes. I didn’t have to get stitches, but he did.
I was scared to get on the freeway for a good six months after that.
Is it any wonder that I am overly cautious while driving?
Back to yesterday.
There was one of those overly-aggressive drivers. It was a school zone directly after school, children walking everywhere, school buses with the flashing stop lights. This driver was going at least 50, weaving between the two lanes to try to get ahead. He was speeding, running the stop signs and the bus stop lights, and changing lanes back and forth in a manner that put him precariously close to several car wrecks.
While it angered me to see his disdain for so many people, I tried to let it go. Karma.
Someone inadvertently cut him off. They were turning into the next lane and he had just swerved into that lane. I was now directly behind the angry driver. It did not end there, though. After the aggressive driver honked profusely and rolled down his window to flip them off and yell at them, the driver who had inadvertently cut him off “brake checked” him. In other words, to try to teach him a lesson, that driver slammed on their brakes causing the angry driver to do the same (and me and everybody behind me, etc.). They only did it once, but this pissed off the driver so much. He swerved around that car and stopped, blocking the traffic.
So now I am behind the person who inadvertently cut off the rude guy.
And I recognize the car.
Because it parks in the same driveway as me.
And is driven by someone who has the scary habit of occasionally “brake checking” people to try to teach them a lesson.
The only reason that car would be driving down this street right now is because it just picked up something precious.
Like a 13-month-old from daycare.
After many cars honking, the rude guy decides to start driving again. And purposely drives directly at my husband’s car, aimed directly at the side of the car where my daughter’s car seat is.
I am blaring on my horn so hard. I am seeing red. The angry guy turns. My husband goes straight to go towards our house.
I turn and follow that guy. He feels like he won the big battle versus my husband and is completely oblivious to me following him. He pulls into his driveway. I stop directly in front of his driveway.
I have no clue what I am doing there. It was some weird Mama Bear instinct. I feel my heart in my throat. I start to worry that I am about to get out of my car and get myself arrested when my fingers fumble through my bag and find my phone. I roll down my window and take a picture of his license plate. He sees me by now and sees what I am doing.
He tries to pretend he is friendly, “Can I help you with something, ma’am?”
“No, I got the information I need.”
Less friendly, “Why do you need a picture of my car?”
“Because you tried to run a car with my baby in it off the road.”
Definitely angry, “Well, I’m not married to you. Maybe you should yell at your husband for cutting me off like that. Also, look how creepy you are following me home. I should call the cops on you.”
His neighbors are peeking outside, because he is loud.
“Oh, don’t worry. The cops will be called. You were speeding. Through a school zone where kids were crossing the street. You tried to cause an accident on purpose. I had to follow you because they will want your license plate info. It will help with the case. I want to make sure I do things legally, you know.”
He starts throwing trash at my car as I drive off.
I am mad at myself for talking to him. Why did I do that? Wasn’t it enough to get his license plate? Did I need to have the last word, too? I should have just taken the picture and ignored him asking me a question when he caught me. But I was so angry at him for putting my daughter at risk.
Speaking of which…
I was absolutely furious at my husband.
Whether he saw me behind him or not, I cannot believe that he would get into a pissing contest with somebody while our baby was in the car. If the angry driver had pulled over and tried to start something, I know my husband wouldn’t have got out of the car. But that isn’t any type of solace in today’s world of people having guns. What if my husband does that to the wrong person and they shoot him? Jesus Christ.
I got home. I was shaking and crying.
My husband, of course, doesn’t understand why I am upset with him. He just keeps asking “Did I get out of the car?” like that means he didn’t engage.
(Yes, I am aware that I engaged in a different way. This is why I am so angry at myself as well. I didn’t need to say anything. The picture should have been enough. Trust me, I am so disappointed in myself.)
For me, the big difference is that our baby was in his car. I tried explaining that she was the difference. He cannot control other people, so how dare he put her at risk like that when we do not know what the other party is capable of? It is our job to protect her, not put her closer to unfathomable harm.
I was concerned with her safety, with his safety. With the safety of my family.
I had just watched my husband and daughter almost get run off the road.
Because he wanted to poke a sleeping tiger because he was in the right.
But I am being unreasonable.