Passages, 1: Road Rage

Two novels that I read recently both describe incidents of road rage. Being a southern California near-native, I’m alert to such issues. Each novel has a distinct attitude toward driving style.

In one [chapter 9], the protagonist recalls

living in San Francisco and hating every inch of the city, from the alleged pizza to the fucking! drivers!—in New York, the theory went, drivers used their horns by way of shouting “Ole!” as in, “Ole! You changed lanes!” “Ole! You cut me off!” “Ole! You’re driving on the sidewalk!” while in San Francisco, a honking horn meant, “I wish you dead. Have a nice day. Dude.”

while in the other [p113],

In general, drivers on the East Coast were less generous than Californians, Frank found. On the West Coast they played tit-for-tat, or even firm-but-fair, because it moved things along faster. Maybe this only meant Californians had lived through that many more freeway traffic jams. People had learned the game from birth, sitting in their baby-seats, and so in California cars in two merging lanes would alternate like the halves of a zipper, at considerable speed, everyone trusting everyone else to know the game and play it right…

and later from the same book [p155]

North on the freeway, crowded but not impossibly so, people zipping along like starlings, following the flocking rules keep as far apart from the rest as possible and change speeds as little as possible. The best drivers in the world.

The identity of the books is left as an exercise for the reader.

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