He wasn’t really very angry. He’d call it just a bit past annoyed. The conversation with his wife had gone the wrong direction, and he was angry enough to be tense.
It wasn’t a major incident. The driver at the light had gone through just a little late. Late enough to be going through on red. He’d seen her face looking his way as he raised that middle finger. It made him fell better, or so he told himself.
She was having a bad day. Having someone show her the middle finger put her over the line. She was normally patient, but that nasty man at the light had no business making an obscene gesture at her. She was in a hurry! She hadn’t been very late at the light. And because she was in a hurry, and she was so angry already, when the driver in front of her was slow to get moving (on his cell phone) she laid into her horn and kept it going until the car got moving.
He, in turn, was receiving bad news on the phone. He had taken about all he could take, and that woman behind him laying into her horn was just too much. He got moving, but pounded on his steering wheel and yelled obscenities, which nobody at all heard.
His next turn was onto the entrance ramp to the interstate, followed by a merge. Because he was so angry he was driving too fast. He knew it, but he didn’t really care. How dare that woman rush him! He sped up some more to cut in directly in front of a pickup truck.
The pickup truck driver was distracted. She was saying something to a child in the back seat. She barely avoided a collision. She was angry enough already at the child, and having this driver cut her off sent her over the edge. She knew the offending driver could hear her, so she yelled at the child instead. He started crying.
The child was also angry. He didn’t think he’d deserved all that yelling. He decided to work it out by throwing his toy truck at his mother in the front seat.
His mother was just about to change lanes, and just as she should have been looking in her blind spot, the toy truck hit her. She didn’t see the truck in the lane to her left.
The truck driver hit his brakes. Hard. But the laws of physics were against him and nearly thirty vehicles behind him.
Nobody really understood why the driver of the pickup truck made that turn at that moment. How could they?
“How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!” — James 3:5b (NRSV)