On Dec. 13, Dr. Gridlock ran the startling tale of a Mitchellville woman, Darlene Rowe-Stukes, who wrote to explain a road rage incident on Central Avenue. She said she almost had an accident avoiding a careless driver and, in a rage, leapt out of her car and began pounding on the offender's car, trying to break into the vehicle. She said she was bent on "pulling her out of her car and beating her to a pulp."

She failed to break into the car and wound up kicking in the woman's headlights before storming back to her own car. Ms. Rowe-Stukes later realized that this was bad behavior and that she could have been shot by the stranger. Her letter brought a spirited response from the readership.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I hope I don't make this woman's day worse, but the person who wrote to you about her road rage needs to do something for her family. She needs to take anger management courses.

The moment she started attacking the other driver's car, she put herself not only in danger, but seriously in the wrong. She was lucky not to be killed. She will be luckier yet if she is not cited for destruction of property and assault, because she earned convictions on both counts.

If this woman had managed to break the car window and batter the other driver, she would be spending Christmas in jail. Maybe a number of Christmases in jail.

She needs to think about how much her family needs and loves her, and she needs to get a real tight grip on that temper. Maybe we need to worry less about what the other driver can do to us, and more about what we are doing to ourselves.

Christine Howlett

Mount Rainier

Dr. Gridlock is taking recommendations for anger management courses, particularly for road rage.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Both you and Darlene Rowe-Stukes seemed to reach the conclusion that her actions were wrong only because there exists the possibility of getting shot by someone crazier.

If you could know for sure the other person wasn't going to kill you, would it be okay to pound some sense into them? Certainly not.

Using anger as an excuse to verbally or physically abuse someone is wrong, independent of the consequences of doing so.

I know what it's like to be infuriated at someone's stupidity--I've gotten angrier than I should sometimes. However, I've never considered leaving my vehicle to pursue that anger. The reason I don't has nothing to do with a fear of getting shot and everything to do with a desire not to be that kind of person.

Jonathan Ross


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I was disturbed to read the story of the woman who gave vent to road rage after another driver almost caused a bad accident. The woman concluded that she shouldn't have tried to drag the other driver from her car, or kicked out her headlights, because she could have gotten killed.

While that's unfortunately a possibility these days, it's not the right lesson to draw. No matter what the other driver did, this woman's own behavior was antisocial, not to mention criminal.

She seems to think that fright and anger excuse the attempted assault and property damage, and that she should control herself only because other people might be dangerous. She's wrong on both counts. I'm surprised you didn't call her on it.

Leslie Clark

College Park

I didn't get the same message from her letter, Leslie. "She seems to think that fright and anger excuse the attempted assault and property damage" is not a premise I can accept. She seemed like a penitent person to me.

It's okay to take a different view. Plenty of people have agreed with you. Maybe the letter--and my answer--should have gone further.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

On those (fortunately rare) occasions when I have made an error and endangered someone who is sharing the road with me, they often react with rage and then their driving endangers both of us.

I've had people screaming, shaking their fists, tailgating or glaring at me instead of watching the road. They are so angry at me for creating a momentary distraction that they are distracted from safe driving themselves.

Please remind your readers that even if they don't get shot for yelling at someone, if they are consumed with rage at something that happens to them on the road, they could become the next dangerous driver.

Stacy Stewart

New Carrollton

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I was trying to get into the left lane, and I checked my mirror, signaled and pulled into the lane. At the next light, a woman pulled up on my right and angrily indicated that she wanted me to roll down my passenger-side window. I did, and she proceeded to scream at me that I had cut her off.

I knew that I hadn't--that she must have sped up when she saw me pulling into the left lane--but I said as sincerely as I could, "I'm so sorry. I really didn't mean to!" She yelled again, and I again apologized. She finally gave up.

I think it really knocked the wind out of her sails when I didn't fight back. Sometimes being polite is the best revenge!

Jolene Ivey


Dr. Gridlock's assistant, Jessica Medinger, contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Monday in the Metro section and Wednesday or Thursday in the Weekly and Extra sections. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, P.O. Box 3467, Fairfax, Va. 22038-3467, or e-mail him at drgridlock@washpost.com. The doctor's fax number is 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers.