For a long time now, I’ve had what I considered a pretty clever way of dealing with tailgaters.
What I was doing — on highways for the most part, because that’s where you encounter the largest number of people dealing with corn cobs up their asses — was grad-u-a-l-l-y slowing down.
I did that for two reasons: First, to send the tailgaters a not-so-subtle message that they were free to go into another lane and shoot around me whenever they wanted. Second, I admit with some shame, I just wanted to aggravate them.
I guess I’ve been lucky not to have been shot while engaging in such gamesmanship.
Here I am at 70 years of age, glad to be happy and healthy. I’d like to get to at least 75 in the same condition. So, as of today, gamesmanship on the highways is in my rear-view mirror. When someone comes up on me fast, I’m going to signal for a lane change and do it as soon and safely as possible.
You might ask: Why the change of heart now?
Well, I’ve just read two stories on local news outlets about people who got shot to death on area roads recently after becoming involved in road-rage incidents.
One was a woman. On Sunday night, 22-year-old Whitney M. Gray met her demise after an altercation near Winner Road and Sterling Avenue in Independence. The craziest part of that case is that Gray had three children in her minivan when things got out of hand. Fortunately, the three youngsters — a teenager, a 3-year-old and a child of less than a year — were not injured.
Fox 4 News is reporting that youngest children were Gray’s.
The victim’s father, Sean Gray, told a Kansas City Star a reporter, “She was a great mother, and she was an awesome person.”
How awful — to be called by a reporter to sum up your dead daughter’s life after she was caught up in something as seemingly inconsequential as a roadway pissing match.
Independence police on Monday said they were searching for the driver of a white SUV they think was involved in the homicide.
Alsobrook will be going back to Texas (or already has) in a coffin or urn. And Crumpton is in the Platte County Jail, charged with second-degree murder.
Crumpton gave this account of the incident to authorities:
Both drivers were eastbound on Missouri 152. As they exited southbound onto I-29, Alsobrook’s SUV struck Crumpton’s car. Both drivers pulled over. Crumpton, carrying a loadedl handgun, got out of his vehicle and walked toward Alsobrook’s SUV.
Here’s where you’ve got to take Crumpton’s account with circumspection:
Crumpton said he heard Alsobrook yell, “I’m going to kill you.” Then, according to Crumpton’s account, Alsobrook began to drive toward him and Crumpton responded by shooting toward the SUV’s engine block and driver’s side-view mirror.
Crumpton then got back into his car, drove to a gas station and called 911…Police did not find a weapon in Alsobrook’s vehicle.
The Star quoted Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd as saying: “If you’re the victim of a road rage incident, try to drive to a safe place. If you’re the instigator, this case is a tragic reminder of how quickly things can get out of control.”
Good advice. Here’s better advice: Don’t let yourself get sucked into a road-rage incident in the first place. It usually takes two to engage. Me? I’m getting out of the business of trying to send not-so-subtle messages to drivers in a big hurry. Way too many of those people are out there on the roads, and the best policy is to move over and let ’em blow by, especially now that we’re in the lock-‘n-load era.
Like I say, I want to make it to 75. I might even have grandchildren by then.