By Shannon Magsam
On the 3-hour drive to my parents’ house to celebrate Mother’s Day last Friday night, my husband, Ladybug and I were chatting happily.
Suddenly, we noticed a car was speeding up the on-ramp to merge into Interstate 40 traffic, except the driver wasn’t merging, he was swerving. We were in the right lane and the left lane was crowded so we had nowhere to go. My husband slowed and honked to let the driver know we were there, but the guy continued to weave.
I was shaking by the time we finally got clear.
It happened fast, but I knew we’d just barely missed being involved in an accident. I felt grateful we’d dodged that bullet. As a former newspaper reporter, I tend to worst-case-scenario situations in my head in headline format: “Mom Maimed in Pre-Mother’s Day Traffic Accident”.
Soon we were all talking again – about the chickens we were going to pick up at MiMi and Papa’s house to bring home, about seeing Ladybug’s horse and her cousins — when we heard a loud horn honking. The SUV that we’d nearly been in an accident with just minutes earlier was on our bumper and laying on the horn. The driver hit his high beams and stayed on us.
I immediately called 911. When I said where we were on I-40, the operator switched me to a different county’s dispatcher. Then that operator switched me and a THIRD operator who switched me to the State Police. At least I think that’s who I was talking to. I was confused at that point. I explained the situation for a fourth time and in the middle of my terse account, the operator told me to hang on because she had another call.
When she got back on the line (!) I told her that I was especially concerned because road construction was ahead and we were likely going to be at a standstill or a slow crawl with this crazy driver tailing us. I told her I could see blue police lights up ahead and maybe she could ask one of the officers to help with this tense situation?
She told me the officers were busy with the “incident” and basically offered no help – or even a suggestion for how to handle the unpredictable predicament. I even pointed out: “MY CHILD IS IN THIS CAR.” For Ladybug’s sake, I didn’t freak out or raise my voice, but I was not fine inside. My husband continued to drive defensively, even trying to get over at different points to see if the guy would go around us. Nope. He stuck to us like glue.
The dispatcher asked for my cell number, I gave it to her, then we hung up. I felt completely blown off, dissatisfied, angry and SCARED since the guy was still behind us, honking and bright-lighting us. He stopped with the bright lights and honking when we slowed down at the construction site, mostly because the police officers were there, I suppose.
But as soon as the blue lights disappeared in our rearview mirrors, he started up again. I’m not sure why no other drivers called 911. Maybe they did, but I have no way of knowing since the dispatcher never felt the need to call back and follow up with us.
I asked my husband (who had remained completely calm during the whole ordeal): “What would have gotten their attention? If he had rammed us? If he had started shooting?”
Finally the creep (as my husband pointed out: most likely a drunk creep) got off at an exit and I craned my neck to get his license plate. Unfortunately, I couldn’t read it from the distance.
I realized I’d been practically holding my breath the whole time. My heart was pounding and I was trying hard not to remember a road rage shooting incident I had covered while working as a police reporter years before. That incident had ended very badly.
I was so relieved to see that jerk exit, but I kept thinking of all the what-ifs.
When we got to my parents’ house, we told them the tale and then I ate a huge bowl of my mother’s homemade vegetable soup. My mother’s food has healing properties — for body and spirit.
Then I switched the topic to more pleasant things – like the chicks we were bringing home and seeing my daughter’s horse and visiting with my nieces and nephews.
The drive home on Sunday night was uneventful. My Internal Headline Writer formulated a new announcement: “Mom Feeling Grateful After Mostly Uneventful Mother’s Day Weekend”.
Shannon Magsam is mom to 11-year-old Ladybug, married to Ladybug’s dad, John, and co-founder of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of Life With Ladybug, click here.