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 bit 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 dangerously 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 try to recover lost time and gain ground when he he could be bothered to watch the 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
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 maneuver. 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 my husband up if he needed it.
“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 brake lights 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
But when I show my piece
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 catastrophic outcome is something completely different. Of course my sign was ill-advised, but the other driver’s actions were criminal.
After the initial 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 rear view 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 rubberneckers 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.
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.