It’s been a strange week. I’ve had a few close calls. I think moving vehicles may want to kill me.
Let me just say for the record that I’m an excellent driver. Yes, I may be a tad assertive – but I believe in scanning the road ahead and formulating my route so that I can change lanes when needed (without cutting others off), brake as required (without causing my brakes to lock up), and basically find the most practical and rapid way to get from point A to point B without endangering myself or others. Quite frankly, timid drivers make me a little crazy. When they creep along, well below the flow of traffic, or when they want to switch lanes, but just can’t seem to make that commitment – well, at those times I have a huge urge to be like Kathy Bates in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes.
I’m also a person who tries to be kind, compassionate and forgiving. I realize this kind of contradicts the whole Kathy Bates thing. I TRY – I don’t always succeed. Just ask my coworker. Earlier this week I noticed that he had, once again, left his post to go to the cafeteria to get breakfast – leaving another employee alone to handle a gazillion phone calls herself . This had been going on for so long and pissing so many people off that the issue had been raised in a meeting and a new edict was passed – no one can leave the office on non-business related work while they are on the clock…period. Yet, he continues to do so. It’s really none of my business – I get that. I’m not in the phone room working with him. But I was frustrated because I was attempting to pass along some information to them that they both needed that day – and I couldn’t because he wasn’t there and the other gal was frantically answering one call after another.
So, I texted my supervisor. “R is alone on phones. Apparently people have again gone to get breakfast (I inserted an eye-rolling emoji here). I’m logging in to help.”
In a few seconds, I got a response – but not from my boss. It came from another coworker, who had been on the group text that my supervisor had sent earlier that morning, to which I had inadvertently responded instead of texting my supervisor directly. Since my breakfasting coworker was also on that group text, he immediately returned to the office before my supervisor could catch him in the act – furious with me for ratting him out and ruining his meal plans (I’m just extrapolating on that last bit – but I did heard through the grapevine he was extremely furious with me).
I internally debated (for hours) whether I should apologize or not. I knew that being a tattletale was an asshole move – especially when I group texted everyone and publicly humiliated him. But he was also an asshole for leaving coworkers in the lurch so that he could eat, even after being explicitly told not to. If he hadn’t left the clinic, I wouldn’t have sent the text – so wasn’t HE really to blame? In the end, I did go and apologize for sending the text – because I’m trying to be KIND, COMPASSIONATE, and FORGIVING, dammit!
Now, I have to admit – I’m sometimes a kind, compassionate, forgiving person for purely selfish reasons. Earlier this week, I was leaving Wal-Mart (yes, I shop at Wal-Mart – don’t be judgy!!). There was a guy in the parking lot holding one of those red plastic gas cans. He approached me, telling me that he was nearly out of gas, his wife and kid were waiting in the car, and they just needed enough to get back to their home in Belen (about a 35 mile trip). I gave him a dollar and he wandered off to find his next victim. As I got in the car, I skeptically wondered if he actually needed gas. Why carry around a gas can when he wasn’t yet out of gas? Wouldn’t it be easier to just ask for the money since he was going to drive to a gas station anyway? I figured it was a prop he was using to make his story seem more real. Still, if his story was true and he had kids in the car – that would suck for everyone concerned.
I decided to find out.
I drove slowly around the parking lot looking for him and finally spotted him passing between two parked cars. I caught up and, rolling down my window, I told him I would be happy to put $10 in gas in his car if he could drive over and met me at the nearby Sam’s Club – with his wife and kid. Yes, I added that caveat – because, as we have already established, sometimes I am a cynical ass. I nearly chortled in glee at my cleverness as I drove the short way to Sam’s Club, pretty certain that he wouldn’t show up, as that would expose his deception.
Guess what? He showed up. With his wife and kid in the car.
Feeling like the asshole I was, I filled up his gas tank. He thanked me profusely and went on his way. Perversely, I had the urge to post my story to Facebook (without all of the business about my cynicism and assholery) so that my friends could see what a kind, compassionate person I was.
I resisted that urge – but clearly I am going to hell when I die.
Which brings us back to the subject of moving vehicles wanting to kill me!
I was on my way to meet friends, as we were going to the opera (yes, I mean the actual opera – I am high-falutin sometimes, even though I shop at Wal-Mart!). I was headed up the on-ramp to get on the highway. It’s a bit tricky at this particular juncture, as there are two lanes on the on-ramp and then they merge to one-lane just before joining the highway – so things slow down, just when you need to speed up to match the velocity of the cars on the highway. I typically glance behind me to see if there are any cars coming up the highway and, if not, then I immediately move over to the middle lane – leaving the right lane clear for all of those slowpokes and timid drivers who are attempting to merge at the end of the on-ramp before merging onto the highway, but just can’t seem to make the commitment.
I turned my head and looked back for oncoming traffic and there was only one car – in the far left lane. I then turned my head forward as I started to speed up and change lanes – only to see that the cars in front of me (trying to merge onto the highway) had come to a standstill. I only had a split second to react before slamming into the car ahead of me. I braked hard and, when I saw that wasn’t going to be enough, I swerved to the left. This caused my car to fishtail and nearly hit the driver who was in the far left lane. I’m sure his life flashed before his eyes and he may have peed his pants – I know I almost did! I regained control of my car, my eyes wide, my hands shaking, and my heart just about thumping out of my chest. It had been a close one – had I plowed into the driver ahead of me or lost control as I tried to avoid him, I would have been seriously injured and others may have been as well. That would have totally ruined the holidays — you know, as major accidents tend to do.
Then, just this morning, I met my ex-in-laws for our weekly breakfast at McDonald’s (I’m not high-falutin all the time, you know). It was still dark, because they get there every day (yes, every damn day) at 6am right when the dine-in area opens up. I parked my car and began to walk across the parking lot to the door of the building. My purse fell off my shoulder and into the crook of my elbow. I glanced down at it as I hoisted it back up again – and then heard the squealing of brakes and looked up to find the grill of a Ford F150 mere inches from me. I had unconsciously flung out my arm in a “STOP!!” gesture (like that would have done any good) and my hand was above his hood – that’s how close it was.
Now, this particular McDonald’s is not designed well. In order to get to the drive-through lanes, you have to drive around the building. The door to the restaurant is about a truck-length down from the corner of the building, where cars make the turn. Most people drive pretty slowly as they make this journey, because cars are constantly backing out of parking places and people are crossing the parking lot. But this dude – well, he was flying and had he not been as quick on the brakes, I would have been as flat as a…well, as flat as a McDonald’s pancake. I was so shocked at my narrow escape, that I didn’t even flip the guy off. I was still trying to process that I had nearly been squashed — the whole thing was very surreal! PS, I feel quite cheated because MY life didn’t flash in front of my eyes! The only thing I could see was the grill of that damn truck!
Truck dude impatiently pulled around me and sped up to the order screens, another 2-3 truck-lengths down the way. He began to order and my shock dissipated (somewhat) and my outrage erupted. He hadn’t even had the courtesy to put up his hands in a placating gesture while mouthing, “I’m SO sorry!” Didn’t he know or care about common an!d decent motor-vehicle mime???
I strode to the order screen and waited patiently until he finished. He was looking down this entire time – so I don’t know if he had seen me coming and was trying to avoid speaking to me or if he was still engrossed in whatever he’d been doing when he nearly ran me down. Before he could speed around the corner to pay for his meal, I placed my hand on his truck door and said, “I know it’s still dark out and hard to see – and you seem to be really hungry (he ordered three Sausage McMuffins!), but this is a parking lot, there are pedestrians, and you need to slow down before you kill someone.”
I said this in a calm voice. I didn’t use any swear words. I was pretty proud of myself for addressing the issue like a grown-ass adult, even though I had nearly been killed seconds before. He turned his head to look at me and said:
“YOU need to watch where you are going instead of being on your Goddamn phone, BITCH! I was only going two miles per hour!”
And then he sped away, probably having to swerve so as not to kill another innocent person on their way into the McDonald’s. And by the way, asshole, my phone was in my purse and last time I checked, trucks do not come to a screeching halt when they are only doing two fucking miles per hour! As I walked back to the door of the McDonald’s in shock and rage, I could only think, “Misogynistic bastard! Trump supporter!” I have no proof of the latter – he wasn’t wearing his Make America Great baseball cap – but I’m pretty sure I’m right on the money with the first part. I only wish that he could have barely tapped me – then I could have thrown myself on his hood and then to the ground, writhing in “pain” and suing him for everything he was worth. I just put a new roof on my house – I could use the money. But again, I’m TRYING to be kind, compassionate and forgiving (and let’s face it, I probably would not have had the presence of mind to come up with that genius plan at the spur of the moment).
When I walked into McDonald’s, the entire staff at the front counter and drive-through checked to make sure I was OK, as they had heard the entire thing over their headsets. I knew there was a reason I didn’t mind going to McDonald’s once a week – such friendly employees!
I don’t know if the universe is trying to tell me something, or if I’m just dodging my inevitable, grisly death by motor vehicle, but I’m doubling down on the kind, compassionate, and forgiving thing. It can’t hurt – especially if I’m due to meet St. Peter at the pearly gates anytime soon.