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B Company, 127th Aviation Support Battalion
Fort Bliss, Texas

While I was attending the Aviation Maintenance Technician Course as a part of my Warrant Officer Basic Course at Fort Eustis, Virginia, my wife and 2-year-old daughter came for a visit. This weekend allowed us to spend some quality family time together, but it was also memorable for a very ugly and scary event that happened on the roadway.

We’d spent the day playing and relaxing on the shore of Virginia Beach and were now heading back to the Newport News area on the Hampton Roads Beltway. If you are familiar with the area, you know you have to travel through the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel under the Chesapeake Bay. On this night, the westbound lane on the Fort Monroe side of the tunnel was under construction, so traffic was almost at a standstill — much to the dismay of my wife, who is a little claustrophobic and didn’t like the idea of being stuck in a tunnel.

The Department of Transportation had placed numerous signs several miles prior warning that the left-lane traffic had to merge right. It was frustrating watching motorists remain in the left lane until the last possible minute and then force their way over to the right. After being stuck in traffic for more than two hours, my common courtesy and military bearing was starting to wane as more and more drivers continued to jump in front of everyone else.

It was finally our turn to ease past the log jam when a pickup truck driver tried to force his way ahead of us. To put it mildly, I wasn’t having any of it. I continued to position our SUV to ensure I maintained our place in line while the pickup driver kept trying to cut ahead. Eventually, it got to the point that our vehicles were going to make contact if I didn’t relent, so I backed off. Here’s where it got scary.

The pickup driver got out of this truck, blocking both lanes of traffic on a major highway, and started ranting like a madman. Of course, I wasn’t backing off in expressing my opinion of him and his driving abilities. He then reached into his truck to grab something and made his way over to my window, still yelling and causing quite a scene. I rolled up my window to protect my family and was about to step out of the SUV when I realized he had a gun in his right hand.

At first I thought, “Is this guy kidding? He’s coming at me with a gun in front of all of this traffic and construction workers — and with my family in the vehicle?” It seemed so surreal, like something you’d see on a soap opera. He continued to approach, so I secured the doors and grabbed my cellphone from the console. The man then proceeded to pound on my window and windshield in protest. I told him he’d better leave because I was calling the police. After a few minutes he got the point and drove off. We stayed behind the driver until he exited the interstate at the next off ramp. The police told me they would try to track him down, but I never got a return phone call from them, so I suspect he got away.

This event served as a wake-up call regarding how I handle my frustration toward others while on the road. Although I can’t control another driver’s behavior, I can control my own. After all, how you react to a driver’s actions determines what happens next. It’s best to just back off and remain calm. Like the Chinese proverb says: “If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.”

  • 1 October 2014
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 10807
  • Comments: 0
Categories: Off-DutyPMV-4