Hey kids. It has been some time since I last wrote about the quintessential American existential gripe, right? So today’s post offers two short bits of recent news about little victories I enjoyed, and yes, one of them is about driving.
Celebrate the little victories in life because if you wait for the big ones, it may be a long, long wait.
–Tom B. Taker
Offered herein are a pair of true stories where yours truly came out on top, no matter how thinly sliced the margin may have been. And both stories feature some small element of chance and odd elements of coincidence, enough so that my mind couldn’t help but notice.
So strap yourself in for this strange and peculiar journey to the winner’s lane. Don’t worry, I promise I handle it like everything else in life, in a very calm and mature manner.
Our first story finds me driving down the street as innocent as Bambi playing in the pure driven snow…
often ad infinitum talked about my work commute. It’s exactly three miles long, one way. You’d think that would minimize the odds of bad shit happening during such a short journey. You’d be dead wrong.
I could fill a library if I documented the crap that has happened to me and the things I’ve seen during those three excitement-filled miles. Usually, though, I just silently grin and bear it. I tend to keep things to myself. You know I don’t wish to be a burden or worse, the source of histrionics.
So there I am the other night driving home from work. That’s typically not a good time for me. I’m depleted and sore and feeling like I’ve been turned inside out. After all, I was just at work.
I’m in the far left lane on a one-way street and about a mile from home. The commute is 66 percent over. Then it happened. Some wacko in a mini-van with out-of-state plates cut ridiculously hard across all lanes of traffic and jerked right in front of me. I had to stop short. And there I was like a sap minding my own damn business. That gets me every time.
I clenched my teeth, flung an insult, and gripped the wheel tightly, all of my attention, focus and every fiber of my being now drilled into the vehicle directly ahead.
Now the coincidental part. The mini-van took the next turn which happened to be my turn. My blinker went on and I followed close behind. Another turn and again it was my turn. Again and again and again. As this was going on I had a lot of fun imagining what was going through their little brain. Is this guy following me? What’s he going to do? Mommy!
All I was doing was trying in vain to get home (if the assholes would let me) and for bonus points I imagined how it was freaking out the other driver. It really was a damn good time, even if it was only taking place in my own mind.
Finally we arrived together at my street. Amazingly the pattern had held all the way to the end. Coincidence! Except their left blinker went on and I needed to turn right. They slowed way down, almost stopped, paused for 30 seconds, then ever so slowly pulled away down the street to the left. They proceeded about 1/4 block then just stopped. And sat there.
At this point I could have made my right turn and been home in seconds, but I felt like punishing them. So I pulled slowly up until their street was in my field of view and slowed to a stop. Then I just sat there, too. Watching them.
I kid you not, this moment last a whole damn minute. It felt like an eternity. I could sense that they didn’t want me to see their final destination. Then, finally, that mini-van slowly took off, headed down to the next street, turned, and was out of sight.
My job finished, I went home to celebrate.
Ha, ha, ha! Score one for me, motherfuckers!
I understand people get lost or make mistakes when driving. It happens to all of us. But when it happens to me I don’t suddenly drive like I’m in the Indy 500. I simply proceed to the next intersection, turn, and go around the block. I’m the one who made the mistake, I’m the one who should be inconvenienced, right? Some people, however, are totally incapable of grokking this concept. They have to have what they want, exactly what they want, and right now, damn the other people and the consequences. Even when the whole damn thing is their own damn fault. People like that tend to piss me off. So I thoroughly enjoyed fucking with one of their number.
It turned out that I had to head right back out and go to the store because my wife needed an ingredient for dinner. In my wife’s car this time (stealthy!) I proceeded slowly up the street. My gut told me to be watchful. My gut was right. There, just one block down, only five houses away, was that goddamned mini-van parked in front of my neighbor’s house. The exact opposite direction they had eventually gone when I scared them away.
I did scare them away. They finally got that trip around the block they should have just accepted in the first place.
Sweet victory! Justice has been served.
Yeah, I know. This ain’t exactly a Lance Armstrong type of victory, but a guru has got to settle for what he can get.
Story #2 takes place in a fast food lobby. I placed my order for two esoteric items from the menu. No drink. No damn dessert, thank you. It was “to go.” I then stood back to loiter awkwardly and wait.
After stepping back, a guy entered the place and stepped up to the counter. He had not heard my order. I’ll be damned, but he ordered the exact same items, except he also got a drink. As he took his little cup to the drink fountain I tried to calculate the odds of this happening. It was likely 5,000 to 1. Another coincidence!!
They yelled out that my order was ready. “One deep fried butter and a crispy Colonel’s heart gizzard to go!” Gee, thanks for announcing my choices to everyone in the place. Assholes. I stepped forward to grab the bag and go.
Of course, as I did this, my peripheral vision picked up the fellow who had just placed his order behind me. He was practically sprinting in my direction. I imagined he was thinking, “Hey! That son of a bitch is trying to steal my foods!” Well, too bad, so sad. I’m out the door! I left him standing in the lobby with a delicious look of extreme puzzlement on his face.
I got quite a chuckle from the experience. It almost was enough to lift me through the rest of the work day.
And that, my friends, is the story of how I savored two sweet coincidental victories in a single week. It’s the heady stuff of legend.
We now resume our regularly scheduled misery.
I am verklempt. The first story is especially beautiful because there was a consequence to them through no effort on your part. The world is a better place today. Or something.
The “no effort on my part” bit was crucial, too. I’m notoriously horrible at anything that requires actual effort. Sometimes things just work out, I guess. A little taste to remind me of what I’m normally missing. That’s how they do it.
Since it was a minivan, we can probably assume it was filled with at least half a dozen unrestrained cretins and a driver on his or her cell phone. It was likely one of those crumb snatchers who tipped off the driver that they were being followed in the first place. The prospect that you may have unwittingly terrified an entire single-parent family should serve as icing on the cake. With any luck, at least three of them crapped themselves.
Crumb Snatchers FTW! My dentist called ’em Snot Bubble Blowers.
Don’t you know the first rule in the Driver’s Guidebook? If you cut someone off you are required to watch them closely. Otherwise how are you supposed to know if you’ve been flipped off and need to escalate the action?
Ah, sweet victory. Take it when you can get it!!
Exactly. I’m easily amused.
Life is always about the simple things.
It’s those times when I wish I carried a baseball bat with me. Then I would get out and smash the windshield to smithereens. And the taillights, the doors, mirrors and if they get in the way, their heads. Served the bastard right for pulling such an asinine move. I agree, I understand, too, that people get lost. But don’t take your mistake out on me and my car! Suck up the fact that you’ve got to miss your turn and go around the block again. I wonder if the person was on their cell phone? That usually means they can do what ever they want because they can’t use the directional signal (one hand is actually on the wheel, the other holding the phone).
I would love to have seen the look on that guys face when you left with your lunch!!! Priceless!
Nice comment. I’m making a note to get you a baseball bat for Christmas. I’m calling it the Lexus-ville Slugger.
We’ve reached the point as a society where we are unwilling to give away even a mere three seconds of our time in the name of courtesy to other human beings. I’ll risk human lives and more than $50,000 in property damage because I don’t want to wait three seconds. I want to drive across the street NOW so I’ll cut you off.
I do believe this is exactly described in The Book of Revelation as the Seventh Seal. Good times.
You are going straight to Hell. I’ll save you a seat.
One way ticket, please.