- The Washington Times - Monday, May 23, 2005

Apparently, road rage is to blame for an incident Friday in which a Silver Spring man is accused of running over a D.C. woman after a fender bender.

What’s more, the woman’s 7-year-old son may have seen his mother being run over — twice.

It is still not clear whose rage drove whom toward a potentially fatal argument.

Hugo Campbell, 23, of Silver Spring, was ordered to be held without bond yesterday. He is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, namely, his car.

The thirtysomething woman, who hasn’t been identified because she is a witness, was still in critical condition yesterday.

Both the suspect and the victim appear to be at fault. No one is saying how much the boy witnessed, but you can bet it made him wonder why two grownups were acting like kindergartners.

According to police reports, the two drivers were involved in a fender bender about 7:30 a.m. Friday at 16th and Newton streets NW. Mr. Campbell drove off, but the woman followed and caught up with him in the parking lot of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

In the ensuing argument, Mr. Campbell tried to drive away in his Honda while the woman tried to block his departure, police said.

Is a car worth a life, maybe two? No. Do you get the idea somebody’s been playing too much “Mortal Kombat” or watching too many showings of “Crash?” No.

We are in too much of a rush and a rage that the least little slight turns our tension or tiredness into full-blown tension and terror. We all need to slow down, or shorten our “to do” lists, or simply leave home a little bit earlier.

Folks foolishly crash into one another every day primarily because we’ve forgotten how to be civil, cordial or just plain courteous.

Worse, we don’t stop long enough or take the time to listen or even try to understand where the other person is coming from.

The Other Guy or Gal is always wrong; so we’re always within our rights to go off half-crazed. And we wonder why we are all stuck in traffic more often than not when too many of us think we’re right rather than yield the right of way.

Somewhere I read: “Is it more important to be right or to be at peace?” which brings me to a shocking movie named “Crash.”

My friends were raving so much about the film that I went to see it alone at 11 a.m. after an early church service recently. It was the opposite of the “go out and do good things in the name of the Lord” sermon I had just heard.

“Crash” should be renamed “Crude,” or “Cruel,” or better yet, “Rude Road Rage” on and off the highways and byways.

This star-studded movie of stereotypes is not for the faint of heart or the thin-skinned.

Skin, as in the color of yours, is actually the main character. And it’s a rough and raw road-rage ride about what’s wrong with “them,” the “other people” who don’t look or act the same as you.

Everyone acts and reacts, usually badly, as they “crash into each other” and set off a chain of fatal or near-fatal accidents.

My least favorite character is played by a condescending, overwrought Sandra Bullock, who breaks down after acknowledging, “I don’t know why I’m mad all the time.”

No nice girl next door lives here as she hurls her anger in racist insults at whatever hired hand, including her husband, is within earshot.

As one friend remarked, “The movie is about what people are really thinking but never say out loud.”

Indeed, the racist, sexist and elitist “Crash” cuts and digs make it difficult not to run out of the theater in total disgust and despair about the state of human relationships.

We may never know what was going through the minds of the two persons who crashed at 16th and Newton on Friday.

Why in the world would a woman with a child in tow follow a man, who at the very least had an attitude problem, and put their lives in danger?

Why didn’t the Honda driver do the legal thing and stop to exchange information, even if he didn’t have insurance?

What we do know is that we’ve got to stop crashing into each other on the street, in the store and even on the phone. I wonder whether the confrontational climate fostered by the country’s war on terror isn’t terrorizing us at home in more subtle ways.

Edgy Everyman seems to be smarting for a fight. We’re like children driving bumper cars, deliberately trying to crash into each other. When we do, we’re all stuck. Nobody moves forward. Often, somebody, like the unidentified mother, gets bruised or pretty banged up.

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