Saturday, September 17, 2005

Tales of the Commute

It’s been a long week, but not in a bad way. I get up between 5 and 5:30 (if I manage to sleep until the alarm goes off), leave at 6:30, and get to work around 7:30-7:45. We take an hour lunch in there somewhere, and I leave around 6. I get home around 7 (traffic coming home is usually better than traffic going in). I have to start looking for a place that’s closer to work – the commute is way too long.

Yesterday’s commute was interesting, but only at the end. On the exit I take off the highway the off-ramp is very long and merges down to one lane. At the end it forks and the fork I take is the less busy one. As I approached it traffic stopped, which isn’t unusual. The road is wide enough for two cars here if you count the breakdown lane and I’m on the right side of it waiting to get close enough to the fork to get off. Suddenly I hear honking. I look around and there’s a car in the breakdown lane right behind me. He’s obviously going to the fork also, but he’s in the extreme edge of the breakdown lane trying to go around me and doesn’t have enough room.

I hadn’t pulled into the breakdown lane and it wasn’t wide enough for him to get by. I don’t feel all that sorry for him because I’m getting off the same way. I can see he’s making a lot of hand gestures and yelling in my rear view mirror and he’s still honking. Then he decides that there might be enough room for him to get by. He starts inching forward very slowly, because it’s going to be a tight fit. As he pulls up alongside he opens his window and starts calling me names and flipping me off.

It’s funny for two reasons. First, he thinks I’m trying to be a jerk and keep him from getting off, when in reality I’m getting off the same place. Second, this man must drive fast, because if he behaves like this regularly somebody would have hurt him by now. He’s downright scrawny. And he’s telling me that he ought to kick my ass.

It gets even better. There’s a loud scraping noise and I realize that he’s hit the bottom of the cement wall that he’s against on the other side. Now I laugh. Which sends him into the stratosphere. He’s turning red he’s so mad. He finally got enough room and spun his wheels as he took off towards the fork. With me not too far behind him. Great, he must think I’m following him now.

I can tell he’s getting nervous now because he’s checking his rear-view mirror constantly and he’s trying to drive faster to put some distance between us. I hang back, but I end up right behind him at a light waiting to make a left hand turn. He must really think I’m after him now. I can see him hunched down in his seat, and gone are the hand gestures. He’s looking into his rear view mirror constantly at me. When the light changes he zips off, but the cars in front of him won’t let him make the speedy getaway he’d like. Because it’s raining people are driving slow, so I’m stuck behind him without a way to put some distance between us. Eventually I turned and was no longer following him.

I’m trying to imagine how he’s probably telling the story to his friends. I’ve probably morphed into a gang of six foot six thugs, prison tattoos on my arms and looking for a fight. The high-speed chase ended when his superior driving skills allowed him to get away, but not before he damaged his car dodging the surface-to-surface missile we’d fired at him. Maybe he even has a blog and is writing up this story as I write up mine. If anybody reads it let me know, I’d love to leave a comment.