As a pizza delivery driver, Patrick Bartz says he's witnessed some rudeness on the road: "I've seen the finger a few times." But the 24-year-old said he encountered a new level of road rage Sunday evening.
Bartz said it all started when he was heading east on DeMers Avenue, stuck behind a gray Oldsmobile Cutlass going below the speed limit.
He said he tried unsuccessfully to pass the car several times in his Saturn sports coupe. Every time he sped up, Bartz said, the Cutlass, for whatever reason, would do the same to keep him from passing.
Finally, Bartz said, he passed the car at 20th Street and DeMers. More than a dozen blocks later, he arrived at Papa John's, 1515 S. Washington St., where he went inside to pick up an order. When he came out, a woman -- a complete stranger to Bartz -- confronted him. She insisted that he had cut her off and endangered her children in the car, but Bartz told her that he simply passed her and never went back into her lane. He said the woman then called him a liar.
"I turned around to walk away, and she started pummeling me," Bartz said. "She got a couple good swings in before I left."
The woman relented after her front-seat passenger encouraged her to leave the scene, he said.
Bartz could only speculate on the woman's motives.
"I think she was just young and high strung, and she was just having a bad day," he said.
The police arrived after the woman left and took photos of Bartz's injuries. The woman's flailing arms struck his upper body and face, leaving him with a black eye: "I'll live," Bartz said.
On Monday evening, police said they had not arrested anyone for the misdemeanor assault but are tracking several leads.
Bartz acknowledged that he's always in a hurry when making deliveries, but said he wants people to know that he and other drivers who do the same are just doing their jobs.
"We're not out there to (tick) anybody off," he said.