Here’s Your Sign; Bad Habit

I want to tell you a story…

I am currently on my second cup of coffee, but I may actually need to exercise some of this anxiety out of me before I can finish this post.  Yesterday, I had to travel to a town about four hours away for a wedding.  What should have been a long but easy drive ended up being a stressful mess.  I have never encountered so many awful drivers in one day (actually, not even a full 24 hours.)

To begin with we had only been in the car a but under two hours.  But the trip started poorly from the get go, mainly due to the fact that we should have left at least an hour earlier; I had miscalculated our departure time due to a time zone change from Central to Eastern.  That said, it would not have mattered because due to traffic and assholes, we were actually about two hours late to the wedding, missing the ceremony entirely.  I have no idea why, but already, I was feeling as if my bullshit meter was tipping dangerous into the red.  For some reason, cars in the two lanes could not stomach the idea of riding behind anyone…yet instead of passing, they were content to ride side by side, disallowing anyone else to pass or make progress in a timely fashion.  It was like this off and on the whole way there.  It was extremely irritating, but not dangerous, which is my prime concern when my child is in the car.  Until I noticed this one jackass in little hamster-mobile.  Actually, hubby noticed him first, because he remarked on the fact that said jackass was looking down at a phone instead of the road and his driving was suffering.  Apparently he’d drive at a snail’s pace when looking at the phone, then decide to recover ground when he decided to watch teh road, flying up on people’s asses and slamming on his brakes, before cutting over to the next lane.  At one point he passed and I noticed a female passenger.  Then the lane weaving commenced anew in front of us.  Twice he cut people off, seemingly narrowly avoiding clipping their front bumpers, and I sat there with mute fury.  I think I hit my limit then.  Not for the day, because the day was young, but my cumulative limit.  Ask just about anyone in our town and they will tell you people around this areas either drive like the rules of the road (stop signs and red lights...what??) don’t apply to them, or like they aren’t even aware there ARE rules.  And I am tired of people getting away with it.  Not just because of the lack of courtesy but because it’s dangerous!  But as usual, the cops are never around when this shit happens, and I feel impotent in these situations.

“When I go driving I stay in my lane
But getting cut off it makes me insane
I open the glove box
Reach inside
I’m gonna wreck this fucker’s ride”

The Offspring- Bad Habit

I wanted to call that driver out, let him know someone had noticed his horrendously dangerous antics, and perhaps shame him into being more careful.  So, in an act of singular passive aggressive brilliance, I pulled out a giant document envelope that had been folded up and jammed in the side compartment of the door and made a sign.  In pen and block letters gone over several times to darken them:

“YOU DRIVE LIKE A DICK !!!”

As we rode past in the left lane, I held the sign to my window.  The reaction was immediate and, frankly, insane.

This utter douchebag jammed the gas and then cut across our front bumper, then slamming on his brakes.  In the seconds that followed, I remembered thinking that if we rear-ended him, it would technically be our “fault.”  How could we prove he cut us off in a deliberate and aggressive manuever.  My husband managed to brake enough to avoid collision and as the DB in the hamster-mobile sped up again and began to pull over to the side of the road, my husband followed.

This was actually happening.  Shit, what had I started?  And yet part of me felt vindicated.  The look on my husband’s face was enough to tell me he had left reason behind.  He was smiling.

 I sat in indecision.  I did not want to leave my kid in the car, but I knew there were at least two people in that vehicle.  I wanted to back Hubs up.

“Be careful, ” I told him.  “He might have a gun.”  Hubby made it halfway to the other vehicle when the other driver punked out; their brakelights went out and they took off.  My husband was still smiling, a shark’s smile, when he got back in the vehicle.  I wonder if the other guy’s girl saw him coming and yelled at her husband to let it go…  It’s what I would have done if the roles were reversed.  Of course, I’d have already been yelling at Hubs to stop driving like a dick in the first place.

“Drivers are rude
Such attitudes
But when I show my piece
Complaints cease
Something’s odd
I feel like I’m god
You stupid dumb shit goddamn motherfucker!” (Bad Habit)

My kid is in the backseat… “Why did we stop?”

ME:  “Daddy needed to have a talk with another driver…”  Daddy was gonna throat check another driver and beat his ass …and he’d have deserved it.  

Having an argument or disagreement is one thing… Using a 2 ton vehicle to bully other people in a way that could have a catestrophic outcome is something completely different.  Of course my sign was ill-advised, but the other driver’s actions were criminal.

After the inital confrontation, we saw them farther up the road a few times.  Once we passed them, and apparently, the DB’s big brass balls were back and he began gesticulating.  Hubs merely looked in the rearview and reaffirmed, by pointing to the shoulder, his continued willingness to meet on the side of the road and “talk things out.”  No dice.  Eventually, we took an exit and DB went along his way.

If this were where the story ended, I might not even be writing this today.

It felt like barely ten minutes later when we spied red and blue strobing lights ahead of us and traffic slowed to a crawl.  One vehicle was pulled to the shoulder and a girl who looked to be barely out of her teens stood with the door open, feet on the bottom part of the car door frame, looking at something in the distance.  In front of their vehicle another care was parked.  Had there been a fender bender and the usual rubber neckers were slowing traffic?  Was the girl’s boyfriend perhaps involved?

Hubby had already seen in the distance what I had yet to notice.  I discovered shortly that the girl I saw looking was likely just that, a spectator.  Or perhaps the driver of her vehicle had stopped to help.   As we made our way by, I saw the gasoline tanker off the road, semi-jack-knifed, the cab’s nose, elevated slightly over a small road side ditch and buried in the side of a tree.  The undercarriage had been ripped from the cab and was in an exhaust-covered tangle below it. I can only hope the tanker was empty.  No HazMat team was on scene.  Some men were standing there looking up, as if assessing the situation and I had a split second to wonder if they were EMS attempting to rescue the driver when I saw said driver.  He was hanging upside down out of the canted cab, half in and half out, dangling with his arms hanging limply.  He wore a blue chambray-looking shirt, a typical blue-collar uniform shirt.  And I realized he was probably already dead, if the men below were merely standing there and not actively “rescuing.”

I whispered quietly to Hubs, asking if he had seen what I had, but he said once he saw the wreck, he had looked away, not wanting to see more.   He’s seen worse.  There was no blood or anything, but I couldn’t help but feel a sort of shocked sadness.  Seeing someone dead, and not in the setting of a funeral parlor, is a very disconcerting thing.

Those were the two major events.  All through the rest of the trip, people continued to clog up the highway by riding side by side.  We were already running late when we got lost shortly.  We spent two hours at the wedding venue only to get back in the car and follow two vehicles to an after party in a cabin on the mountain.  It was an hour away, the last leg of the journey full of steep switchbacks and gravel and rocks.  We had to practically crawl the last part up the mountain.  We’d have been better off in second gear probably.

I knew I’d never sleep well there, and I desperately needed sleep.  I know myself enough to know that.  The combination of early morning departure and extreme stress had me worn out, and I knew my child would never settle down to rest if there were other kids there to play with.  The party was great, the company made us feel like part of the family.  The cabin and fall foliage was phenomenal.  But I was done.  We initially had planned to take a room down the mountain but ended up deciding to muscle through so we could sleep in our own beds.  The ride home was full of assholes with their brights on, however, the decision to drive home ended up being a good one,  as a hour away from home, the girl who was supposed to be taking care of my dog for the evening messaged me to inform me she had lost my apartment key.

You can’t lock my apartment without the key.

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Update*  The truck driver, 40 years old, was pronounced dead at the scene, however it looks as if we passed the wreck before EMS or Fire arrived.  According to the report I just read, one lane of the road was later closed off to traffic while they worked the scene.

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FML: The Inciting Incident

This morning was…awful.  I’m not often very free with the whole “FML” thing that gets so much play on Facebook, mostly because it’s usually said apropos of some self-indulgent, first world problem.  As in:

“On noez!  Didn’t sleep a wink last night and my cat drank the last of the coffee this morning! FML!”  … Or…whatever.

But I swear, yesterday and its transition into this morning definitely made me feel like busting out the “fuck my life,” for realz.

Let’s start with around Monday morning when I woke up with a pretty decent sore throat, worse than any I usually get.  So I plied it with Lipton Noodle soup, ice water, and popsicles.  My sodium Monday night was probably in the stratosphere from all the packaged soup.  I took an Ambien to try to get some sleep, and ended up eating ten Ricola cough drops at some point in the night…and some peanut butter I don’t remember.  Between my slightly clogged nose, and having to pee from all the water and soup I drank, and my throat of course, I didn’t sleep very well.

I had some mild sinus issues, sinus pressure, clogged nose, an occasional sneeze– really less severe than any cold I ever had– but that sore throat was kicking my ass!  Felt like I swallowed razor blades.  Long story short (at least this part,) I was worried about strep so I went to the clinic at Walmart (because I didn’t feel like wasting gas and driving 20 miles out to see my NP.)  “Quick Strep” test was negative.  Diagnosis:  Still could be strep, or maybe develop into tonsillitis, so “Here’s a script for Amox to hold onto in case it doesn’t clear up in a couple days.”  Diagnosis: prob some allergy/viral thing.

After I left the clinic, throughout the afternoon, I developed this unproductive, hacking cough.  My throat just got worse and worse.  I tried everything I could think of.  Gargling with Listerine and salt water and peroxide, drinking hot soup, eating popsicles, drinking icy smoothies; I plied it with hot and cold all day long again.  Benadryl, benzocaine cough drops, Musinex, Aleve, Tylenol-3…   Nothing helped, and I’m sure some things made it worse.  I was in so much pain, and couldn’t sleep.  Kept feeling compelled to cough, which just irritated- no, destroyed– my throat even more.  Basically between the extreme pain and the coughing, my throat started to swell.  This kept the coughing going worse.  Do you know how impossible it is to deny a cough reflex?  I started to wheeze and have problems breathing.

At about 12:30 am (Wednesday) we dragged my little girl out of her peaceful slumber and headed to the ER.

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This is where “shit got real.”

The trip from my apartment to the hospital is like 4 minutes.  I shit you not.   Nevertheless, disaster managed to strike.  A beautiful young buck running in the grassy area on my side of the road.  I won’t say the rest was slow motion, per se, but I remember it in pretty vivid detail.

“Deer, deer!” I said to my husband.

The deer kept running, doing his dodgy little hops to where you can never tell precisely which was they are going to break and run in the end.  But of course, of all the ways he could run, he chose the road.  Hubby had slowed some, but he was actually looking across at the other side of the road for the deer.  We hit it, not too hard, but hard enough, and it seemed to roll/ slide across the road as we went by.  We slowed to a stop and pulled over, and my eye was out the rear window at the deer, which had come to rest directly in the middle of the road.  We asked J* if she was okay; we all seemed to be fine.  I was really upset, upset that we had hit the deer, upset that my child saw it happen…  I had forgotten my phone so I told hubby to keep going to the hospital and we’d call the police from there to report it…

And then the deer sat up, and started flopping its back end in a spasmodic effort to get up.  And I lost it.  It was still alive, but too injured to get up.   I was crying, but without tears, and trying to keep a hold of myself for my kid’s sake.  She would ask “Mommy, ‘kay?   ‘S wrong, Mommy?”  And I just said, “Mommy doesn’t feel good..”  Meanwhile I’m also thinking, oh, this is great for my breathing, this is all I need… and

What do we do?  It’s still alive.  We don’t have any way to put it out of its misery, and even if we did…   and, perhaps somewhat improbably

If this feels this horrible, what do people that hit other people feel like???

It wasn’t catastrophic.  It could have been a lot worse.  But at the time, it felt catastrophic.

Someone had stopped to ask if we were okay and hubby had waved them off.  But they had turned around and sat about 100 feet back behind us, where the deer lay.  I guess they were maybe sitting there so no one unsuspectingly came along the animal and wrecked, or maybe they were waiting to see what we’d do (or waiting so we’d leave and they could take it home to eat???)

When we got to the hospital, I rasped out what happened (by this time my voice was mostly gone, and talking above a whisper was very painful.)  The nurse called the security guard and as they were discussing the exact location of our unfortunate accident, she said, it had come over the scanner; someone else had called it in.

So back to my original problem… I sat in the ER and waited…. miserable.  Miserable for my husband, who had no sleep and a budding migraine and had to work at 8am.  Miserable for my little girl, who was nonetheless extremely pleasant and peppy for being woken in the middle of the night.  Miserable for that deer.  The moment the deer impacted the grill of our truck (which is demolished, btw) I felt it in my heart.  How to explain.  There’s no logic except for that strange sort of self-flagellating logic– “this is my fault, if only I hadn’t made him take me to the hospital, I’m a shitty navigator, I should have told him where the deer was, he’s gotten no sleep and now he has a migraine too and …if only we had killed it outright, I hope someone put it out of its misery soon, it didn’t die but it will and we killed it, nothing should die on the road like that…”

Ironically, when I mentioned to the doc we had hit a deer on the way over, he basically congratulated us.  I think he asked us if we took it home, so he must not have realized that we had literally just hit it.  I guess that’s Kentucky for you.

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So… you wanna know what happened to me?  Thanks for asking.  Real quick– x-rays of soft tissues in my neck, nebulizer breathing treatment, steroids to also help the reduce massive swelling in my throat.  Ativan after the nebulizer treatment made me jittery/shaky/anxious wonky (it’s a mega stimulant, and you guys know I’m already a bundle of nerves.)  600 mg ibuprofen for the pain (THAT didn’t do squat, ya know, but at least I could breathe again.)

Being able to breathe, all the aches and pains from coughing all day, my chest, back, and neck, surfaced.  And I was soooo tired.  Physically, mentally, emotionally.  I dunno if you’ve even felt it, the way that sustained pain and anxiety can take a toll on your body.

My throat is still extremely raw and sensitive, and now that the “inciting incident,” as the doctor so aptly put it, is over, the aftermath.  Trying to forget the look of the deer trying in vain to gain its feet.  The worry about how hubby is doing at work on four hours sleep and a migraine, the hospital bills that will come in the mail (just add it to the rest of the hospital bills.)

But…

at least I can breathe…