The ups and downs of being wrong
Just the other day I was driving along in town, minding my own business at a roundabout I take in all the time, when something happened that spoiled my entire week.
No, I didn’t crash into the back of an Aston Martin, and nor did I suffer any kind of heart attack. What happened was that I got into an argument, and I was wrong.
What was even more embarrassing was that half a mile down the road from the roundabout and its mildly confusing lane structure, and nanoseconds after I realised that I’d been wrong, I also remembered that I’d had the exact same argument with another person in exactly the same spot about eight weeks before and that at the time I’d argued from the other point of view. Back then I’d been right, but not this time. Bugger.
I was a mess. This was the first time I could ever remember having been wrong in an on-road dispute. I am normally Captain Highway Code, ready to quote the good book at anyone who crosses my path (lane?) in anger.
But not only had I been a complete tool but I had also been effectively arguing against myself, and losing.
The worst thing was that I wanted to apologise to the woman in the silver Fiesta who had gone buzzing off up the road, but I knew I either wouldn’t get the chance or I wouldn’t be able to get through to her past the torrent of four-letter words coming my way. I realised that I had to live with my shame, and I didn’t like it.
Why, I asked myself; why had my grasp of the rules deserted me just when I needed it most? I’d had an incredibly busy week with lots of travelling, four flights and about 1,000 miles of driving, but I just could not bring myself to blame it on that. Call me masochistic but I try to shoulder my slip-ups and learn from them. Ignorance may be bliss but it teaches you nothing.
And this got me thinking. The roads are full of people driving dangerously around other traffic, and there are plenty of people flashing their lights, peeping their horns and giving all kinds of hand gestures to explain in rather graphic detail the error of their fellow drivers’ ways.
The possibility of that changing is about as likely as the Chuckle Brothers winning Britain’s Got Talent.
So what I suggest is that if you find yourself in an altercation over what you see as lane discipline, road manners, overtaking or whatever, after any initial reaction remember the situation and then check a copy of the Highway Code. Learn the rules and you’ll know you’re right next time – but you might just turn out to have been wrong.
I was confident I’d got the rules right in my head and that I’d just had a moment of madness when I beeped at poor Miss Fiesta. I checked my Highway Code and fortunately for my sanity I was right.
It might seem a bit of a chore but knowledge is power and if we all knew the Code as well as I thought I did (ahem), we’d be a lot more pally on the roads. It won’t wind time back to before the incident that ruined my week, but by staying on top of the rules you can reduce the chances of having a crash that leaves your pride cupboard – and your wallet – emptier than an art student’s head.