I’ll go ahead and admit that I have road rage.
Every now and then.
Most of the time.
Still, as someone who drives nearly 180 minutes round trip every single work day, I think I’m entitled to it. In fact, I even get a cool moniker: Extreme Commuter.
Okay, so being an extreme commuter isn’t cool. In fact, I revile it.
Because not only do I encounter every type of driver out there—tailgaters, slow-goers, texters, weavers, excessive speeders, cell phone talkers, drunks—but I have to try and keep myself in check to ensure I don’t become one of them.
Sure, we’ve all been stupid more than a time or two—tried to steer while Instagramming a sunset, docking the iPod, and daydreaming about what we’d do if Joseph Gordon-Levitt appeared at that exact moment.
Most of the time, though, I keep it at 2 and 10, and get myself from Point A to Point B.
And yet, despite cooling myself down, remaining vigilant, and taking the higher road, morons still find me.
Like the geriatric driver with the suspended license who destroyed my Camry on a very rainy, extremely cold Halloween.
And then blamed me for it.
Because I really wanted to ruin my paid off car by veering into the turn lane and hitting him. Because I loved dumping $400.00 into it two days before, just to watch my car’s grill–two lanes over–be pummeled to pieces by passing drivers.
Or, the idiot who jacked up my “new” (not paid off) car because he felt like running a light to go up an off ramp.
Now, I’m not super proud to admit that I’ve flipped-off drivers, blared my horn at weaving texters, and screamed my share of expletives.
And I’ll throw a PSA out there: “Kids, road rage is no laughing matter. Although laughing about it really pisses off the bastards.” Okay, so maybe leave that last part out.
Because some people get ridiculously lost in it.
So, to avoid all that–and anger management classes–I do my best to let it roll off.
But then I find myself driving along on a Friday, humming Pink’s “Let’s Get This Party Started,” when a speeding car hydroplanes, ricochets off a car in front of me, spirals into oncoming traffic, and hits two drivers there before crashing into a ditch.
So much for a quiet Friday night. Brought to you by idiotic driving!
Because now I’m standing in the rain (why, why always the rain?!) comforting the undergrad who’s freaking out in the middle of traffic and assuring her that she’ll be fine if she gets out of the middle of traffic.
At least being a crash veteran equips you with coping mechanisms. (Like envisioning the speeder being hit by a passing 18-wheeler. Kidding!)
So there we are, standing by her car. And while she calls her dad, I watch other speeding cars merge, then speed around the wreckage.
But I also watch rubberneckers slam on their brakes for a better view.
“We may want to step onto the shoulder,” I whisper to the undergrad. “These drivers are going to cause another accident, and I’d rather not be crushed by your car should they smash into what’s left of it.”
(So maybe I could’ve been a bit more empathetic.)
She snuffles a response before grabbing her purse and stepping off into the grass.
About three minutes after we plant ourselves well off the road, a Camry full of rubberneckers smashes into the back of an SUV.
Just a few feet from where we’d been standing.
Smoke billows out from the car’s mangled front. The driver and passengers fall out of their respective doors, punching airbags as they do.
And I just stare.
The police officers across the road stare.
And we almost synchronize our face-palms.
Now, I’m not the only one who’s ever experienced some car-related misfortune. Or caused a little accident myself.
And even though you don’t like hearing about people getting into accidents, or like getting into them yourself, you do learn some useful things.
Like how to deal with an epileptic driver who’s smashed into a power line and continues to seize. And a group of sorority bystanders.
Me: “Okay, you go call 911!”
Sorority Girl 1: “AHHHH!”
Seizing Driver: *Slams foot on accelerator. Pushes car through fence.*
SG 2: “AAAAAAAHH!”
Me: *Hanging out door, pulling SD’s foot off accelerator*: “I’ve got this. Y’all go get help!”
SGs 3-5: “AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!”
SD: *Smashes head into horn*
Me: “FINE! I’ll call 911!”
SG 6: “Oh, I called them.”
Me: “Where in the hell did you come from?”
SGs 1-4, 7: “AAAAAAAAAAHHHH!”
Me: *Pulls SD away from steering wheel and turns off car*
SG 8: “AEAHHHHH!”
Like when my dad took his brand new truck to a car wash and ended up incurring nearly $3,000 worth of damage in four simple steps.
Step 1: Hug a pylon.
Step 2: Freak out, then back into another pylon, breaking out a tail light.
Step 3: Cuss excessively, floor it, and rip off a side panel with another pylon.
Step 4: Scream even more, back up, and knock off a side-view mirror.
Or, when my paternal grandmother waved to a neighbor, then drove right into a ditch. After which my grandfather turned with a rolled newspaper and tapped her on the head.
But think about it. We’re all just fleshy blobs hurtling through space in metal- and plastic-molded shells. So it’s simply a matter of probability that we’ll bang into each other.
It’s not fun, but it happens.
And then we’re launched back into space. Trying to find our way through the chaos.
Back to that spot on the horizon.