When I was a teenager, my father’s office window in the Highland Mill Mall looked out over the parking lot behind French and Brawn. Once, he spied me driving aggressively in the parking lot.

Maybe I was swerving around someone I thought was moving too slowly, but I don’t recall the specific offense.

The punishment, though, I do remember. It involved having my car impounded (within the family) over the winter. For a high school student, that was a drag.

One thing that episode taught me was to think twice before letting emotions take hold behind the wheel. Unfortunately, it didn’t cure me completely, but it made me think. On top of that, a year in Iraq made me think about the appropriate use of a vehicle’s lethality, and the respect it demands.

Virtue-signaling aside, earlier today I bore my teeth at a Volvo station wagon in Cooks’ Corner that drifted peacefully across three lanes of traffic in front of a busy light during rush hour. Moments before, I was writing this column about road rage in my head, so it was a helpful reminder to feel it too, even mildly.

Temperatures are rising with summer upon us, and with it comes the influx of visitors from away – that is to say the ones who didn’t stick around from last year.

Without hurting anyone’s feelings too much, it’s safe to say our friends down in Massachusetts often drive differently than we do. The contrast is not always pleasing. Yet, it doesn’t have to be an out-of-stater: if you’re not paying attention, it can be your neighbor who makes you see red. Or vice-versa.

“Unhinged” is a recent film starring Russell Crowe as a laid-off manager at an auto plant who already crossed the line into deadly rage by the time a harried mother honked at him from behind in morning commute traffic. What follows is grisly, but is unrealistic? Road rage incidents are surging across America.

Two-thirds of all traffic fatalities in America are caused by aggressive driving, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one-in-three collisions involves road rage.

A motorcyclist in Thomaston allegedly brandished a gun at someone in traffic this past April. At almost the exact spot I gritted my teeth at a spacy driver in Brunswick, a man with a knife threatened another motorist last November.

On Monday, I was still processing “Unhinged” in my head while walking across a sidewalk on Commercial Street in Portland, when someone in a pick-up screamed obscenities at me before tearing off in a squeal. I must have delayed him momentarily in getting to some urgent business, but somehow I don’t feel guilty.

Yes, we can be passive aggressive about our road rage too, especially Mainers. Slowing down in front of a hot shot used to be a way of reminding others about rules or manners. Today, it can be incitement to violence.

Indeed, it takes two to tango. According to the American Psychological Association, half of drivers respond aggressively to road rage manifestations. When you consider the likelihood that more than one-in-three drivers may have a firearm handy, rudeness on the road can get ugly fast.

“The veneer of civilization,” Margaret Thatcher once observed, “is very thin.”

Since we’re getting political, it is worth noting that after four years of a president who made no effort to guise his base commentary, it’s almost like permission was given from on high to be coarse, vulgar and mean. If Hollywood is to be believed, the one thing serial killers hate most it’s a lack of courtesy.

In my old age, I have come to find that driving the speed limit is incredibly relaxing. Those illusions I had in my youth that my journey was somehow vital and of extreme significance melted away. Let’s face it, if you’re not driving a woman in labor or a guy with a ruptured femoral artery to the hospital, there is no good reason to drive like a maniac.

Now, if only people from Massachusetts read my column…

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.