Sharing the Road (with Assholes)


Song: Oh No by Mos Def (with Nate Dogg)
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We live near a school. In the morning, some people stop their cars at the stop sign and sit there while their kids get out of the car, which often takes approximately 97 minutes per child. I consider this, like all traffic rudeness (don’t get me started on people who don’t use turn signals) as a personal affront of the highest order. When I’m stuck behind one of these buffoons, I am, of course, concerned with the safety of these kids who are being dropped off in such an unsafe and obnoxious manner. I’m also pissed the hell off because I hate when people are assholes on the road and I don’t have time for this shit. I usually do the following: (1) mutter “asshole” to myself; (2) picture Jose Mesa coming along and punching the driver in the face; (3) drive up next to the car, glaring at the driver (I do this because I have to stop at the stop sign, so I can’t skip right to step 4; and (4) pass the car and go on my merry, pissed-off way, as long as it is safe to do so because no children are crossing the street in front of me.

To my dismay, yesterday, while engaged in step 3, I noticed that the driver was a total thug. I determined that he was a thug based on two facts: (1) he was sitting in his car all laid back, like his mind was on his money and his money was on his mind; and (2) he glared back at me so hard it was like he could see right through my soul, which is filled with cobwebs and irrational anger at things that don’t really matter, like people who cut you off from the right lane that ends or who make a good income by writing 900 blog posts a week about dumb stuff they bought from J Crew or Anthropologie. Oh shit, I thought. I offended a thug.

I was relieved when he didn’t come after me. If he were really mad, he would’ve shot my ass right then. I was a little relieved until I realized he didn’t come after me because he was putting a hit out on me. He was calling up his gangsta friends who are going to come find that bitch in the Subaru and shoot up her bitch-ass house. That’ll show her to glare and pass me while I’m parked in the middle of the street. Yo.

I mean, stupider things have happened, right? You don’t ever want to disrespect a thug. That’s how the whole Darrent Williams murder happened. Some gangsta got all pissed off because somebody sprayed champagne on him at a stupid club, and a while later you have people shooting up a limo and a dead Bronco.

Sometimes I have no idea where my overactive imagination ends and my realistic assessment of risk begins. For all I know, dude has hemorrhoids and was trying awkwardly to sit on one of those ass donut things and slipped, accidentally attaining a thug-like driving position.

When I got home, I parked a little in front of our house and a little in front of the neighbors’ house (love you guys!) because that would make it very hard to determine which house related to my car, went inside, and waited to die. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. Ben went out to make tracks with his new track-making friend and I hung out with Soren until he went to sleep. Then I did what I always do in these situations. I watched tv shows about people getting killed and scared the ever-loving shit out of myself. If he comes for me in the night, I’ll get all Emily Prentiss on his ass with . . . with . . . um, with a wooden candle holder, which might be the most weapony thing in our house? A big knife? A Rottweiler whose tail tragically was cut too short so he might not see it wagging as he approached (for the record, she and Sadie came to us with cropped tails; we wouldn’t have done it).

It didn’t help that, right in the middle of Criminal Minds, the police copter started circling the neighborhood for an hour. Eventually I paused the show and listened to the police scanner to figure out what was happening. There was something going on a few blocks away with a woman (“female,” in police parlance), hit in the head, blood, people screaming. There was something else nearby, but I didn’t catch what it was (sometimes it’s hard to figure out what’s going on because 900 people are talking at once and there was also a fire in another area and arson investigators were called and they were checking for damage to the actual structure blah blah blah). So I never found out what the copter was about. This reminded me of the time a few years ago when Ben was out of town and I was watching Forensic Files. Someone, who I later determined was the police, knocked on our door around midnight. Of course I didn’t answer because I’m not a victim waiting to happen, seriously, and what good ever comes from a knock on your door at midnight. I later found out that there had been a stabbing two houses over. Crime! Right in my back yard!

Hopped up on Criminal Minds and the police scanner, my eyes grew wide and I started to hear weird noises. It’s the worst, sometimes, being the only adult in the house when you’re on a paranoid tear. Eventually, though, you relax, realizing that if there were weird noises, the dogs would notice them. Probably. The min pin would, at least, because she never misses the opportunity to bark her head off at shit.

Bedtime marked the transition from Criminal Minds and the First 48 to Disappeared. Why wasn’t Ben home yet? Did something bad happen or did he choose to leave? Did you know that adults are free to go missing on their own and there’s nothing you can do about it? It’s true. The crew would come to the house and film me saying things like, “I don’t think he’d leave us, you know?” while gazing at the camera imagining I’m somewhere else. The words “devoted father” would be said during the broadcast.

Once there’s a day where the snowball of crazy starts in my brain, without proper redirection, it just keeps going. It’s like when I used to get extensively bored for long periods of time and I’d become convinced that I had some kind of terrible disease. The brain tumor and Parkinson’s periods were bad. (In my defense, I’ve had a twitchy pinky for the past 9+ years [palmaris brevis spasm syndrome] and I read something about how Michael J. Fox started with a twitchy pinky. I spent a lot of time on a benign fasciculation syndrome message board one year.) Fortunately, pregnancy and having a child have given me plenty of things to think about so I no longer have the mental energy to do more than freak out about cancer every once in a while.

What I’ve learned from this experience is fourfold:

  • It’s not worth it to get angry about shit that happens in traffic.
  • Chill out on the crime shows.
  • Recognize, which I sometimes do, that anxiety often has no real purpose. Even if I do end up being killed by some dude I pissed off while driving, freaking out about it beforehand won’t make it any better.
  • I should use the energy of anxiety to do something constructive, like run, pick up a hobby, read, write something of actual substance, or bake cookies. Mmmm cookies.