Some people say I look like Charlize Theron (well, my nan, but her eyesight – or general perception of the world – isn’t what it used to be). Yet put me behind the wheel in Dubai and my usually pleasant face transforms into something less red-carpet-ready and more Monster. Yes, all-out steaming nostrils, eyes bulging, head-back serial killer chic.
There are a long list of things that incite the rage: people who flash their high beams at me when I’m not even in the fastest lane; those who sit in the middle lanes while chugging along at 80kph; and – my favourite – when cars just stop mid-road, or even mid-highway, with no attempt to pull over even slightly, just to drop off a workmate (often stalling to continue chatting). What, are you coordinating outfits for tomorrow? Move on!
But there’s one thing that trumps all of the above, and something that I just can’t let go: when people drive around, buckled up nicely, while their toddler, merrily unaware, clambers across the dashboard. Last time I spied this was at 3pm on a Friday. I was on Sheikh Zayed Road, heading home from a nice lunch with friends, singing along to Fleetwood Mac. Read: in my happiest place possible. I then saw a young couple jetting along at 115kph with one child acrobatically stuck to the rear windshield, two others wrestling in the back seat and the youngest of all sitting on the dashboard facing her mum.
Like Aileen Wuornos, the rage appeared. I tried not to look, but found myself approaching a panic attack every time another reckless driver swerved past the car. I eventually pulled off at my junction, turning up Stevie Nicks and trying to breathe deeply, only to discover the car in question next to me at the traffic lights.
What did I do? An angry mime, of course. The second the parents turned around I began flailing my arms at them, dramatically clicking and unclicking my seatbelt, brow furrowed, eyes bulging. The pair looked nothing but bamboozled, turned around, tittered and took off, their kids like tumbleweeds in the back.
These two didn’t get the message, but my communication tactics were a little flawed. However, if you’re reading this and you don’t have a car seat for your little ones, or don’t insist that toddlers buckle up, you’re risking their lives and breaking the law. It’s time for a change: do it for their sake, as well as for mine. I’m sick of telling off strangers.