Monday, February 9, 2009

Road Rage

Everyone has come across a driver on the highway that is clearly not happy to be driving that day. You can feel the agitation baking off of their vehicles from hundreds of feet away. The closer they get, the more you can see in detail the strained muscles in their neck, the veins popping off of their foreheads, their crazy eyes. Yes, I’m talking about Road Rage, one of the funniest things on the highway today. I have to admit, I love being the victim of Road Rage. I will freely admit if I’m driving like an idiot, and try to give the person I just cut off a little friendly half-wave followed by an apologetic shrug. However, I would say 90 percent of the time, the “rager” is raging away for no apparent reason, and these are the moments I live for. I am fascinated by the mentality of people that completely changes once they sit behind the wheel of a car.

One day, I was driving 40 mph in a 40 mph zone (That’s right on the money! Perfect! Thank you, I know.) I happened to glance in my rearview mirror and noticed that all I could see was the windshield of the car behind me, and a 40 year old man hunched over his wheel with his face almost pressed against his own windshield screaming silently. His arms were extended over his head, and both hands had their middle fingers straight up in the air while his face was scrunched into an unbelievable display of hatred. For me to see only his windshield in the mirror, he must have been centimeters from my rear bumper. I glanced quickly back down at my speedometer to make sure I wasn’t driving slowly, and I saw that I was actually up to 45 now (5 mph over the limit! Watch out!) Back to the mirror, and the kindly gentleman behind me is pumping his middle fingers back and forth, as though he’s trying to throw them through the windshield and hit me in the back of the head with them (and wouldn’t that be shocking?). At one point, he must have been yelling so loudly that I saw some spit come out of his mouth, and I think he actually stuck his tongue out. At this point, I had two options: Give the apologetic shrug with the universal sign for “what can I do?” by throwing both hands in the air briefly, or I could take another action. I wasn’t about to apologize for doing nothing wrong, so I did the next logical thing. I slowed down. Way down. Glancing at the speedometer, I noticed I was down to 25. That should do it.

Smiling now, I glanced back to the mirror and saw that I wasn’t getting the double bird any more. Mr. Cool and Easy Breezy was now pounding his steering wheel with both hands and continuing to silently scream. Oh, did I mention that we were in the right lane and the left lane was completely empty and available for cars to pass in? It was. I cruised along at 25 mph and kept glancing in the mirror not wanting to miss a minute. At this point, I noticed that his baseball cap was crooked, which made me laugh out loud because at some point he thrashed around so much that he knocked his hat loose. This. Was. Awesome. I couldn’t think of any form of entertainment I would rather be partaking in than this one. The thought crossed my mind that he may pull a gun and start shooting at me, he was that mad. I disregarded that thought quickly and continued my leisurely drive. He finally pulled around me and drove up next to me trying to get my attention. I serenely looked out my window and continued meandering along at 25 mph, just watching the ships roll in (and watching them roll away again).

This is where it gets interesting.

He sped past me in the left lane, got in front of me, and skidded to a stop angled across the highway about 100 feet in front of me. I hit the brakes and screeched to a halt inches away from his passenger side door. We sat like this for a few minutes, and then he got out of his car and walked around to the passenger side. I felt at this moment that he really was going to pull a weapon and attack me. I remained frozen behind the wheel, making sure my doors were locked and my windows were up. He looked possessed. His face was beet red; baseball cap completely missing now. His hair was stuck up in crazy tufts at strange angles and his chest was heaving. I thought he was going to kill me with his bare hands. Then, something amazing happened. He took a deep breath and began singing a song in the sweetest tenderest voice I have ever heard come out of a man. It was the most touching rendition of “The Rose” by Bette Midler I have ever heard. I couldn’t have been more surprised. I slowly opened my car door and got out from behind the wheel. I stood watching him sing this song with his eyes shut tight and his head turned towards the heavens; fists clenched at his sides in pure emotion:

“Some say love, it is a river
That drowns the tender reed
Some say love, it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed
Some say love, it is a hunger
An endless aching need
I say love, it is a flower
And you, its only seed”

I have never cried so hard in my life; just standing and sobbing into my hands. The world seemed to stop spinning for that brief moment in time. We were the only two human beings on Earth. When the song was over, he came to me and held me close, letting me cry myself to sleep. When I awoke, I was back behind the steering wheel of my car. His car was gone and other cars were driving past me in the left lane, honking at me for being stopped in the right lane. I looked around in a daze and found a note on my dashboard, with a solitary rose placed on top. The note said, simply, “You were right. Please take this rose as a symbol of my regret. We shall never speak again.” The note was signed Reginald.

I know now that I will never meet another man like Reginald in my lifetime. I keep his rose in a crystal vase on my desk. It helps me remember the special time we shared on the highway so long ago. It is now autumn, and each wind that blows through the dying leaves on the trees outside my window seems to whisper 'Reginald'. When I look at the rose he gave to me, I wonder where he is now. I hope he is living peacefully. I hope his hat is on straight. I hope his car has been impounded. I hope.

5 reaction(s)::

Caba said...

Just when I think I know where you are going with something, you drive off the fucking road and into a tree.

Anna said...

Improbable! And very well written. That's a most entertaining post.

I have to say, I'm very grateful that I'm a committed pedestrian... for me, a traffic jam is something that I walk through!

czamataja said...

And that`s why I don`t drive. It`s very stressful ;)

Brandy said...

lol this is a joke right?

Becky said...

Becky here (Neumsy, from Twinstuff..ask your wife! :D)
I ask again, why you don't write for a local paper or an even local-er comedian. I'm serious. You really should go for it. This is one of the highlights of my day, reading you.

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