The very fact I got to and from work today, thebefore Memorial Day, without ramming into anyone is proof there is a God.
Most of you have read my thoughts about my blue collar commute. I sometimes love my drive to work. Yea, it takes 8-10 hours away from my life each week. Yea, I get oil changes every 5-6 weeks. Yea, I spend close to $250 a month on gas. But sometimes it’s nice to sing with the windows down and flirt with truck drivers.
Today was not one of those days. Today was the farthest thing possible from one of those days.
I leave my house every day at 0530. I get into work around 0630, depending on traffic. Lately, I’ve been flying in by 0620 each morning. Those 10 extra minutes mean the world to me – 10 minutes early means 10 minutes less I need to work at the end of the day when all I want is to go outside and frolic in the green grass and blue skies. It means I leave just early enough to miss the train...the train that blocks me at every stoplight throughout my commute. It means I get home 20 minutes earlier. I know. I don't get it either. It just works that way.
Today I left a little early. About 0528. I jumped on the first long road of my route (anyone else break their commute up in sections?) and noticed the traffic seemed a bit thick. And then I looked around….and my eyes did that horror-film thing, like when a main character sees immense destruction, carnage, or leaping fire monsters eating babies.
Boats, trailers, old people in SUVs, gas stations brimming with the one thing that will send tough commuters like me screaming off the road….people on vacation.
I get it. It’s a holiday. I’m pretty pumped about it. We’ve got a huge party planned. It’s gonna be epic!
……but today, I have work to do. Lots of it. Day job, night job, and late-night job. My vacation hasn’t started yet.
So imagine my irritation when I was not only forced to drive amongst the lucky little jerks who didn’t need to work today….but also lost out on my sweet little 10 minutes this morning. Traffic was so bad I was actually in past my normal time….some might’ve considered me……ugh gosh I can hardly type it……some might’ve considered me…..…late.
I hate being late. Timeliness is important to me. Maybe it’s the military or maybe it’s the simple fact I feel in control when I have a routine…either way, I do everything I possibly can to never be late.
And I get it, people. Driving isn’t always easy, especially for those who never need to. The oldies who’ve been retired and drive to WalMart once a week. The moms and dads who aren’t accustomed to driving with three kids early in the morning in a van full of camping gear. The younger generation who is dreading another family vacation and is just trying to stay awake. I get it. Navigating the tricky streets of Morningland can be hard. Lord knows I’ve gotten into enough accidents to prove it.
I can actually tell you, minutes before it happens, that we’re about to get into an accident. I actually have “the sight”….kinda like an “accident third eye,” honed from years and years of making mistakes. I don’t want to toot my own horn here (pun absolutely intended), but I’ve turned into a pretty damn good driver….mainly because I literally have made every possible error behind the wheel. My first 3 years of driving were the best drivers ed courses ever. I’ve morphed into a very defensive driver….meaning I look two cars ahead of the one in front of me pretty much constantly. I plan escape routes (thank you anxiety!). I test my car’s limits by driving like a jackass when I’m alone on the road. This is no joke. This is Jen on Driving.
But I also know the rules of the road. And I pay attention. And I care very much about what is going on around me. And I try to be polite. All things today’s vacationers simply didn’t reciprocate. At all. They drove like buttholes. So bad, in fact, that I decided to write a Top Ten Worst Driving Offenses According to Jen list.
10. Lane drifters. Don’t drift into my lane. I am driving here. I am trying to drive without dying…so stay out of my lane. Yes, I’m talking to you, lady who likes to turn around and talk to her kids while she drives. And you, guy who’s trying to stare at the hott chick walking down the road. Eyes front. You’re driving a car and you’re about to hit me. Oh, you want in? Fine. Fine c'mon over. Oh you're slowing down? Oh you're going back into the other lane? *head explodes*
9. Random breaking. You have seventy feet between you and the car in front of you. Not a stoplight in sight. No birds, reindeer, ice, rain, or other natural disturbances. What a perfect time to apply the brakes, right? That way, the car behind you will never get where they’re going and if they do, they’ll arrive with 1/3 the amount of hair they previously had before falling into the terrible, terrible luck otherwise known as following you.
8. Lost lambs. I travel around for work sometimes and can completely relate to getting lost. I’ve had to slow down to read street signs. I’ve had to take some turns real quick. It happens. When you find yourself getting lost, however, pull off and figure it out. Or travel in the right-hand lane. And if you do need to cut me off, make it a one-time thing. Cut me off once, maybe you’re lost. Cut me off twice, you better find a way to get lost before I find out where you’re going and secretly stash a stink bomb under your tire.
7. Pretty princess makeup time. Get your stupid makeup on before you leave the house. Watching you put on mascara in the car makes my eyes water and causes all respect for you to just go flying out the window. I get you’re busy – me too. We’re all busy. That’s why we all deserve a fair shot at getting to work on time without getting stuck behind Miss America 1998.
6. Don’t hit on me. You’re not going to get my number by flying up alongside me and matching my speed. The only thing you’re doing is making me extraordinarily uncomfortable and more likely to die because I’ll undoubtedly try to speed away from you. So thanks for trying to kill me, but no thanks.
5. Smoking. Really makes me feel like Riverdancin’ when someone pulls up next to me and just starts blowing smoke into the air I’m breathing. The best is when they flick ashes or butts and they land on your windshield. So nice! Can you pass the crack pipe, too? Cuz that might just get me high enough to off myself right here and now instead of sitting in your slow-death cloud of doom.
4. Chatterboxes. I am so glad you have your friend with you and you’re driving together and the sun is shining and it’s so fun. You’re obviously having so much fun you’ve forgotten you’re operating a 3,500lb vehicle that’s unfortunately sharing the road with me. I’ve tried giving you some gentle reminders that you’re not alone…slight tailgating, trying to catch your eye in the rearview, the casual “check around” maneuver, all alluding to the fact you’re pissing people off, but no. No, you are way too happy turning your head, talking to your passenger, laughing and dancing to music. Go you. What fun. Shame I’ll have to dampen your spirits by resorting to more aggressive methods of getting where I need to go. Poor little chatterbox. Perhaps my middle finger will give you something a little more interesting to talk about.
3. Epic merge fails. You know those diamond-shaped yellow signs that tell you cars will be merging up ahead? They are essentially telling you to do the right thing and move over if at all possible. Let these poor people in. It's hard enough to crane your head and try and look behind you while looking in front at the same time...why make it harder? In the same vein, let's use some turn signals. You know. To let people know we're exiting and entering. No big deal - they are the only method of communication between our cars.
2. Cell phone madness. Hey. Hey guy. Think you can stop texting long enough to start moving now that the light is green? Here, how ‘bout a little honk. Oh good, there you go. Movement. Except now you’re moving and texting…which means staggered, frequent episodes of slamming on your breaks and then zooming forward to make up for your inability to focus on the road. That’s ok, though. I’m sure your conversation, or text, or email, or Candy Crush game is way more important than me getting home to my kids. Screw basic human consideration, there’s a draft pick you’ve gotta monitor.
1. Driving in the left-hand lane. This is my number-one biggest pet peeve….ever. Did you know it’s illegal to pass on the right-hand side? Did you know it’s illegal to drive in the left-hand lane? Did you also know you’re generally considered a huge idiot if you drive really slow in the left-hand lane? In a perfect world (you know, the one road-makers intended it to be), the left-hand lane acts only as the passing lane. Anyone and everyone that is not passing should be in the right-hand lane. This is a true story. This is real life. I once had a friend say, “Oh well, if I’m going too slow they can pass me. The right lane is wide open.” I almost opened my door and jumped out.
So there you have it. The Top Ten Worst Driving Offenses According to Jen
If you do these things, people, please, in the name of all that’s good and holy, stop. Save us all from the misery and heartache that is sharing a road with you. You’re not a bad person, you’re just a bad driver. You can fix it – I did.
*said in the voice of the Genie from Aladdin* ---- It can be taught!
Any of you experiencing travel issues so far this weekend? Anything I missed? Don’t let it damper your fun! It’s going to be a great weekend….once you get off the road and into a lawn chair! Speaking of which....
Happy Memorial Day all and as always, thanks for reading J