"We have enough food to last for 30,000 years, but we've only got one mint left, and everyone's too polite to take it." - Holly, Red Dwarf
I was driving to work today. I’ve got a super-sneaky way that I go (it’s called a road) that is probably the only road into Houston that isn’t stuffed tighter with cars than a rehab center for former child stars. It’s a nice drive, but, given that this is the only stretch of road within 200 miles of Houston where you can actually see pavement, people drive like they’re being chased by Michael Jackson.
I was driving down the road at a respectable clip in the left lane. When I say respectable clip, I don’t mean “fast enough that the paint melts off my car due to friction,” but rather “fast enough that I could get a ticket, if I weren’t a fictional character.” I was passing cars in the right lane, so it wasn’t like I was lollygagging around, especially since I’d left my lolly and my gag at home. I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw a quickly approaching SUV, lights flashing from dim to bright to dim in a rapid sequence. Morse code?
I tried tapping my brakes in Morse code to find out. Funny, the driver of the car did not respond with a coded message back, but continued to drive about six inches behind the bumper of the Wildermobile. Finally, a break in traffic allowed SUV-guy (it was a guy) to pass me on the right. As he passed, he flashed the universal signal of goodwill and respect to me. I returned the favor, but, sadly he was driving nearly 120 miles per hour at that point, so I’m fairly certain he didn’t see it. That was okay – he maintained contact by swerving in front of me and tapping out a signal on his brakes.
What a wonderful guy.
I watched him drive onward in front of me, flashing his brights at anyone in the left lane (I could see it reflected off of the highway signs). When he finally exited the freeway, he was all of 200 feet (sixteen million meters) in front of me.
Likely, this individual managed to share the moment of love and kindness that we had shared with others on his trip. Perhaps he was late for a poodle waxing, or, whatever it is that makes him drive at 120 miles per hour and, in general, act like the left lane is the sole province, of, well, him.
In reality, I laughed during and after the situation. I’ve come to understand that life isn’t so much about getting there really quickly, because I was headed to work, and I really didn’t want to go. Traffic jams don’t bother me when I’m not in a hurry. And, mostly, I’m not.
Fairbanks taught me a lot about patience in traffic. First, there is no traffic in Fairbanks. Second, I learned a lesson.
I was trying to make a left turn out of the local supermarket. Supermarkets are where they keep the
I was behind a female in a minivan with four bouncing kids. She was distracted, and missed openings in traffic sufficient to drive, well, a minivan through.
My hand headed to the horn.
I stopped. I put this in perspective. This female had slowed me up twenty seconds. Twenty seconds! Was it worth it to make her life a little more difficult to assuage a very minor frustration on my part?
I followed the minivan. Not stalking, mind you. It was headed to . . . my next-door neighbor’s house.
In Fairbanks, the cloak of anonymity that is bestowed on denizens of larger cities is gone. Act like a jerk? Everybody will know it. Everybody. The loss of the anonymity leads to people being (for the most part) polite. Like herpes, the have to deal with you – again and again.
Oh, and people are polite in Fairbanks because everyone has oodles and oodles of guns.