On the Road

Commuting to and from work is fun.  Said no one, ever.  We share the road with many drivers, each one completely unique and apparently, as I have come to find out, following their own set of traffic laws.  As a frequent traveler on a major highway system in my state, I am amazed at how my mere presence on an entrance ramp has a magical effect on the flow of traffic.  A car that was previously more than half a mile away in the middle lane spots me and speeds up, moving over to the lane I need, and cuts me off…or worse, keeps time with me so that I can’t get over.  This dastardly deed is known as “Don’t Let Him Over” and the game begins as soon as a trailing car sees your turn signal, indicating politely that you’d like to be somewhere else, anywhere else, really, as long as it is away from the grandmother doing 25 mph in the fast lane.

There was obviously a law passed about this, requiring you to speed up no matter how far away the car wishing to slide over and merge actually is.  The memo never reached me, though, and I continue to think there are nice drivers left out there.  Somewhere. Obviously far, far away. It could be that my language in traffic is too brutal for the delicate souls driving around me, so they purposefully excluded me from the mass mailings.  Sadly, this only increases my tirades and antics; not knowing the rules of the game, I’m run up onto the shoulder of the entrance ramp.  My oversized sunglasses hide my identity, though, and in my car I’m free to call you whatever I want. Sort of like those extreme-right trolls on Facebook.

Karma is sweet though, when I am cut off by someone speeding towards the light, only to be caught next to me in its web of eternal redness…that just makes my day. Yes, I know, obviously I live a pathetic existence for this to humor me as much as it does, but I try to get amusement when and where I can.  These people will always find a reason to fiddle with their radio, adjust their visors, or do anything that allows them to not make eye contact with my triumphant face as we sit in what, for them, has become the world’s longest light.

My personal favorite are the ones sitting, waiting to make a turn into my lane, seeing my lone car coming with no one else behind me or around me, only to turn directly in front of me …sometimes waiting — no, usually waiting, until I’m right up on them to do so.  The unwritten law here is that they must go no faster than 20 mph when they accomplish their feat.

Motorcyclists have laws all of their own.  I do love being on the back of a motorcycle, though I have never learned to drive one myself.  There is definitely something exhilarating about the freedom of being precariously perched on a motorized bicycle without the added security of metal surrounding you.  Every wheeled mode of transportation is supposed to adhere to the written laws of the road, from horse and buggy to tractor trailers.  Except, evidently, motorcyclists (okay fine, most some not all).  I have heard the announcements and I’ve seen the multitude of signs posted about looking twice and sharing the road with motorcycles, and I am saddened by accidents that are usually pretty brutal when a motorcyclist is involved.  That said, motorcyclists need to remember that they are not superheroes, impervious to the laws of nature, God, and man.  I see them riding down the white lines of the road, hurtling through time and space at the speed of sound, barely missing the mirrors on the sides of the cars they squeeze between as they seek to show off avoid the traffic jam the rest of us are just so deliriously happy to be sitting in.  I am not sure it was ever made clear to them that white lines are not designated motorcycle paths.  All joking aside, despite the immediate frustration that arises when I see these insane antics, I can’t help but cringe thinking of what might await them…and those they’re cutting off, down the road, and I keep my fingers crossed they make it home in one piece.

I hate driving … it’s a necessary evil. If I ever when I win the mega-million jackpot, the first thing I will do is get a driver on retainer. I mean, honestly, I have enough to worry about every day without trying to understand the unwritten games and laws that apparently govern our roads.  Most days, I am damned lucky I found the keys to my car to begin with.

Dueling Radios on the Road

We all do goofy things with our car radios while we drive.  You’re lying if you tell me you’ve never inched up at a traffic light to get better reception during your favorite song.  I might have to call you out again if you claim you don’t turn the radio down while you look for an address.  And I know I’m not the only one who hears a song I love, then immediately searches all the other channels to find it again.

Don’t tell me that if your window is open and you are listening to an embarrassing song, say A-Ha’s Take on Me, while playing the air keyboard on your dashboard, that you don’t punch the button to change the station as soon as you hit a red light.  We all know the stations we can tune to for music while other stations are on commercial breaks, and we have at least one station programmed that we never even listen to, wonder why it’s saved, and still refuse to reprogram it.

We get embarrassed when we sing the wrong words to songs, even when we are alone, and play the “Who sings this, it’s right on the tip of my tongue, dang it” game to the point we may even Google it at the next stop light.

But there is a certain type of person who takes car music to a whole different level.

You are at the stoplight, waiting for it to turn green.  You feel it before you hear it.  Your teeth rattle and your car shakes as he pulls up beside you.  It’s Mr. Bass Man.  That’s bass, like the music, not bass like the fish; he is another post altogether, now, isn’t he?

He is wearing something darker, you think, you can’t really tell because his windows are tinted.  You peer through the tint and see a reflection of sunglasses, which makes no sense because it’s eleven at night. His music is so loud that birds are falling from their nests, dogs are howling in protest, house windows are shattering, and the lady in front of you just ran the stoplight to escape.

Not to be outdone – more importantly, to keep the lyrical insult to music Mr. Bass Man is playing at bay, you crank up your John Denver, but Country Roads is no competition for Mr. Bass Man.  Your head is swimming as you are trying to hear about those roads that will take John home, but John Denver has given up.  You crank your windows up; the bass still winds around you like a boa constrictor and won’t let go.

Mr. Bass Man appears to somehow be talking on a cell phone, his voice raised over his musical offerings.  Far be it from Mr. Bass Man to turn down his radio to have his conversation, he is kind enough that he doesn’t want to deprive you of this real music experience.

Thank you, Mr. Bass Man, for showing me that my tastes in music sucks. Thank you for sharing your obviously superior music with the world.  I appreciate the valuable life lesson I have learned here today.  If I had a clue what the hell you were actually listening to, I might even look it up online and continue this valuable education.

Off he goes, his bass fading into the velvety night.  You sit at the light for a moment more, letting your hearing correct itself, and watch him blow the next stoplight.  Mr. Bass Man has important places to go, and won’t let a pesky thing like traffic laws slow him down.

Thank you, again, Mr. Bass Man, for allowing your musical choices to wash over me, and the six city blocks surrounding us.  I feel all the better for having, if only for a brief moment, a glimpse into your life.

And I feel even better knowing that you are somewhere teaching others the error of their musical choices, and spreading the love.  Because at least you’re not next to me anymore.

A No Good Horrible Very Bad Day … That Went to the Dogs

So. We had a lovely downpour of rain and wintry mix all day today making the trees shine but the roads slick. Not fun. In case you were wondering, tonight everything is frozen solid. And I mean everything … the yard, the trees, the newly blossoming daffodils, the power lines (fingers-crossed that they hold), the roads. Plus it made my internet flaky all day which caused issues with getting my work done. Also not fun.

Another bonus: my town is going through some infrastructure repairs, replacing water pipes through town, under the roads, to be specific. I guess I should explain that we have one road in to town and one road out of town, both one-way for obvious reasons (i.e., we’re a small town in the middle of nowhere and for no reason whatsoever, the powers that be decided to make travel throughout town as difficult and as annoying as possible so poof! 99% of the roads throughout town are one-way, including the two major thoroughfares). To complete said infrastructure work, one of the main thoroughfares has been closed to traffic and the second has been turned into a two-way road which in turn has played havoc with the side roads (since they are also one-way), all of which makes any trip anywhere right now an adventure in endless detours, made even more precarious by the aforementioned wintry mix.

Unfortunately, after work, I had to venture out into the mess and maze to run a few errands. More not fun. You could say that for the most part, my day was less than pleasant and this was simply the cherry pit on top of a brussels sprout sundae.

Then … then … my trip through the labyrinth of hell ended in a visit to the local library (to pick up a long-awaited book that finally came in) when lo and behold, I met not one, but two amazingly friendly and cute-as-buttons dogs attending an event I had no idea was happening at the library.

Needless to say, it was a good day. A good day, indeed.

Character Realizations

You know, there is really nothing like a trip to the grocery store — with all that entails, including the ill-mannered, deliberately slow-moving people in the aisles and the rude people at the check-out and the downright annoying people in the parking lot hell-bent on their suicidal mission game of chicken — to make you truly understand that you still have a long way to go in realizing your goal of being a “good person.”

Ah, well. Tomorrow is another day.

Charitable Contributions

Charity starts at home on the road and I just want to give a shout out to all those altruistic folks on the highways, at red lights, and in parking lots who are oh-so-kind enough to share their music with those of us less fortunate who might not have music of our own to listen to.

Without you, we might have to sit in glorious silence going over that speech we have to give in the PR meeting later, or perhaps, god forbid, we might catch up on the news or the latest weather report, or even be forced to listen to that audio book we checked out at the library just for our commute to work.

If it weren’t for you sharing your music at such a loud decibel that our cars shake, we might never know the pleasures of obscenity-laden music or lyrical rape scenarios, all while having our spines realigned and our heads on the verge of implosion from the sheer force of the bass.

So thank you, fellow citizen!

Thank you for doing your part to make what is already an annoying undertaking — our daily commute or running errands — that much more intolerable by giving of yourselves and your delightful taste in music.

The Christmas Spirit has Left the Building

I had to venture out into the world of retail on Friday.  The day after Christmas. It’s not something I wanted to do. But I had promised my daughter a long overdue movie:  Big Hero 6. We were lucky that it was still in the theater near us. Great movie by the way. If you haven’t seen it, you should. But I digress. Back for a moment to the aforementioned trip into the wasteland of overcrowded, relentless after-holiday “returners” and “deal shoppers.” We didn’t even have to go into the stores themselves to get to the movie…just the roundabout general area. But that was close enough to encounter all manner of rudeness and obnoxious behavior. I guess what with Christmas having ended at midnight (reminiscent of Cinderella at the Ball), being “Christ-like” has been thrown out the window like the proverbial glass slipper.

I won’t go into all of the different scenarios we were faced with, especially in the parking lot or on the walk through to the theater. Suffice it say that some days the supply of available curse words is simply insufficient to meet my demands.