Losing my cool

It is rare when I lose my cool, and I hate it when it happens. I blew my stack yesterday evening after our 12-hour drive home from Calgary. And while I regret it, I'm still at a loss as to what our rights are when it comes to vehicular noise pollution and dangerous driving in residential neighbourhoods.

We have a neighbour down the road who has one of those high performance cars. You know the kind: they sound like a jet engine as they fly by, piercing walls, shaking eardrums, and, in my case, rattling nerves.

I heard what I thought was the sound of burning rubber as he took off around the corner, right around the time I was lugging the last load of luggage in from the car after traveling 1000 kilometres. I stood there, suitcase in hand, mulling over whether it was worth getting upset about or just letting it go. Then I heard him squeal his tires again about a block away, on Fraser, as he made a loop around the block, the noise of driving in first gear penetrating across several hundred metres.

Shaking my head, I brought my bags in the house, turned around and saw a flash of the car at the intersection of Armit Crescent and Demers. It was then that I made the decision to march three doors down to re-engage this fellow, as we had had a "discussion" several weeks back when more than several neighbours were ready to call in the authorities after he made multiple loud trips up and down the street.

"Did you think I was fooling around last time?" I asked, approaching the young fellow and several of his compatriots. Though, in truth, I didn't say "fooling". It was a slightly less polite word.

As we lobbed points and prognostications back and forth at each other, my temperature was ratcheting up, as was the tone of my language, eventually resulting in the dropping of an errant F-bomb.

"Whoa," said the fellow - let's call him Bob, to protect his identity.

"Keep it respectful," said Bob. "I have young kids in the house."

I apologized and we carried on our vigorous discussion, me suggesting he was driving unsafely, he insisting he was driving no faster than 25 kilometres per hour and that as a father, he was equally concerned about the safety of his children.

I'm not a mechanical guy, not in the slightest. Do these high performance cars have to be so loud? Can they not be quietly driven out to some remote, out-of-the-way roadway where they can create noise to their heart's content? I honestly don't know.

For a flash of about 15 seconds I didn't take the high road on this one, and for that I felt bad. No matter which way I look at it, and supported by the smug looks on their faces, I realized as I went home that I was no further along than when I marched over there. This guy's driving has raised the hackles of several neighbours and even grabbed the attention of my son Dylan who said that he was swerving inappropriately. But at the end of the day, it's our word against his, our perception of how he was driving verses his vantage point from behind the wheel.

I have to visit the RCMP today to order a criminal record check for my recent appointment to the Premier's Council on Culture. While I'm there I might enquire as to what steps we can appropriately take to deal with this type of neighbourhood issue. In case you are dealing with something similar, whether it be from a suped-up car, motorcycle, or another motorized menace, I will do a follow-up blog to share my findings.

Meanwhile, I hope Bob and I appeared to reach a better understanding this time around. We shook hands on it for whatever that's worth.

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