He Said/He Said of Road Rage: Don’t Flip the Bird!

No two people see the world exactly the same. But without a doubt, those whose perspectives differ the most violently

No two people see the world exactly the same. But without a doubt, those whose perspectives differ the most violently tend to be folks who file what are known as “cross-complaints” against each other with the police. They include two men who challenged each other’s driving skills on Oct. 11.

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About the only thing the pair agree upon is the time and place of the occurrence: 72nd Street between Lexington and Third avenues at 12:06 p.m. According to the alleged victim filing the first complaint, a 36-year-old male, he was driving eastbound on 72nd Street when he tried to pass another car on the right.

That car’s driver tried to block him, but he managed to squeeze by nonetheless. Which prompted his opponent to give him “the middle finger,” according to the police.

As rude and even upsetting as that can be—who among us can honestly say his or her driving hasn’t, at some time, elicited the finger from a fellow motorist?—self-preservation dictates that we bury our pride and ignore the provocation. The one thing we don’t, under any circumstances, do—especially if we want to live to a senile old age—is pull over to ask the other person what his “problem” is, as this guy admitted doing. Indeed, one might go so far as to say there are two kinds of people in the world: those who see the problem as the other guy’s but who nonetheless hit the gas, and those whose curiosity is so great that they’re willing to risk a fat lip—or worse—to satisfy it.

So when the offended driver sought enlightenment, the perpetrator allegedly produced a knife, stated, “Fuck you!” and stabbed his fellow motorist in the chest, producing a small laceration.

The second complaint starts in much the same way as the first: with the victim (the knife-wielding perp in the other incident report) minding his own business when he suddenly found his driving competence under assault by a guy honking his horn, instructing him to get out of the way.

Yes, he admits, he stuck his hand out the window, but it wasn’t to give the other guy the finger. Quite the contrary: He was just doing his small part to keep Manhattan traffic flowing freely by motioning “for defendant to pass.”

Instead of offering thanks, the suspect cut him off. And were that not bad behavior enough, he then got out of his car, angrily kicked the other fellow’s door and then punched him in the head three times while trying to pull him out of his car.

And how does victim No. 2 explain the stabbing of which he’s accused? He admits that he had a knife and that he reached for it, but said it wasn’t to dispatch motorists who got on his nerves. Rather, he described it as a knife “he uses for fruits.” And he didn’t brandish it—not at all. He simply “showed it” to the defendant, as innocently as you might a passerby your watch when he asks the time.

However, this failed to impress the other driver, who continued trying to extract him from his vehicle. Indeed, so insistent was his assailant that the fellow actually ended up stabbing himself. He “pushed himself against the knife,” according to the other man, a 55-year-old Brooklyn resident.

It will be left to the courts to decide which gentleman’s version of events seems more convincing, as both were arrested for assault and transported to the 19th Precinct.

Post-Impressionist Postmortem

It’s understandable that Park Avenue residents would feel secure in their multimillion-dollar apartments—what with 24-hour doormen and high-tech closed-circuit TV cameras trained on every public area. Some tenants don’t even bother to lock their doors at night.

Nonetheless, it still seems to be tempting fate to leave a Modigliani in your basement storage cage. That’s what one 1220 Park Avenue resident did. He told the police that he was prompted to check its welfare only after a letter arrived from Brown Harris Stevens, the building’s management agent, informing residents that some of the basement cages had been broken into.

So the 62-year-old tenant went downstairs to the basement on Oct. 12 at approximately 1 p.m. and discovered that his storage bin was indeed one of those that had been broken into. The purloined Modigliani was valued at $200,000. An NYPD evidence collection team was dispatched to search for clues.

Snooze Button

So many people seem to be taking sleeping medications like Ambien that it sometimes seems that there’s nobody left who can get a sound night’s sleep without them. Not so the 30-year-old First Avenue and 94th Street resident who was in an R.E.M. state around 5 a.m. on Oct. 16. And he wasn’t even in bed.

He was sitting—or rather slumping—behind the wheel of his car, which was parked at the northwest corner of 90th Street and Second Avenue. Indeed, so sound was his sleep that he didn’t wake up when a burglar entered the vehicle and removed his credit cards and the money from his pocket. And as if that weren’t audacious enough, the crook also stole his speakers and the amplifier from the car’s hatchback.

Even though the driver didn’t wake up, an eyewitness saw the crime go down and called the police. They arrested the suspect—a six-foot, 160-pound, 20-year-old male—and recovered the stolen property, which included $178 in cash, the victim’s Visa card, two speakers valued at $200, a $200 Sony amplifier, a $100 cell phone and the car’s keys.

He Said/He Said of Road Rage: Don’t Flip the Bird!