Getting flipped off is part of the job. Since, I got flipped off twice yesterday, I started reflecting on it. It isn’t something that I look forward to. It used to bother me more than it does now. When I was a younger man, I felt the need to respond. It was if somehow my manhood was threatened. These days it just bothers me. Not that I don’t get over it, but I think about it.

Why did they flip me off? It is about real estate. They wanted to be in the real estate that I was occupying. One of yesterday’s flippers was a merger. I had a solid 4+ second following distance. There was room behind me. There was a truck coming up fairly quickly in the lane to my left. The safest thing for me to do was maintain my lane and legal speed. This flipper was on the phone. He had plenty of time to speed up and get in front of me. He chose to slow down and get behind me. As he passed me, he definitely wanted me to see the bird. He reached it out towards the passenger window with his right hand. Which was rather impressive because he was still holding the phone with his left hand.

The second flipper was a “speed” guy. Saying that he was above the 70 MPH speed limit, would be conservative. There was a truck pulled over close to the white line and the driver was outside of the truck. The speed flipper was a good quarter mile behind me when I moved into the left lane. By the time I moved back to the right lane he was tight to the trailer. He didn’t give me the emphatic reach across the seat bird. This guy did the traditional cut close in front of over the shoulder flip.

This made me think. Should we start categorizing flips? Take for instance the emphatic flip. That is the one where they reach across the seat as they are passing you. This can be enhanced by them rolling down the window. So – this would be the enhanced emphatic flip? If they scream would this be the super enhanced emphatic flip? How about the hidden flip? Would that be the one that they quietly give you? Keep the hand low so only the truck driver can see it. You wouldn’t want all the traffic around you to see your little tantrum.

If you drive a truck for a living, you are going to get flipped off. How you deal with it is what makes you a professional. We all screw up. If you did something wrong, or even conceivably wrong, just give an “I am sorry” gesture. It the flipper is just blowing off steam, ignore them. Do your job. Don’t escalate the situation or antagonize the flipper. You never know how far they will take it. Their rage could put other people at risk. Just be cool, calm, and professional.

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Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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