When nothing inspires and you find yourself staring in frustration at the blank page and no words inside you, that’s when you go back to your roots. In my case, that means culling another weakling wildebeest of a true story from the herd. And here it is. Another authentic tale from my past thoughtfully prepared for your entertainment. Let’s eat.
I remember hearing the call of a rattler and the sound of buzzing flies. Somewhere a chicken clucked. Which was odd since I was in my car driving parallel to the majestic and rushing San Diego River.
The scene: A busy surface street. Just one intersection away is the 200 foot section of road that separates Mission Valley from the Fashion Valley shopping mall. Watch out! On a day with heavy mist that street floods and makes the mall a million-mile journey for weary travelers seeking the life-giving goodness of the Cinnabon. Denied!
But that road leads to another story.
In my youth I recall having much anger. Well, some things never change.
My car was in the number three position, in the left lane, at a red light. On the left were expensive condos. The intersection, however, said, “No left turn.” The poor bastards who lived there had to go past, drive down the road a bit, then make a U-turn to get back to their home. I imagine that was frustrating for them.
The light turned green and car #1 accelerated. Car #2 did the same thing. And, being cleverly trendy, way back in car #3 I did the exact same thing.
Suddenly car #1 slammed on his brakes and came to a dead stop in the middle of the intersection. This was rather unexpected. Car #2 reacted quickly and somehow avoided hitting the idiot. And, even back in the third position, I also had to react quickly to avoid hitting car #2.
The guy in front had almost caused a three-way accident. Luckily the two drivers behind him were up to the challenge and disaster was averted.
We sat there for a minute and, recovering a bit, I began to wonder just what in the hell was going on. Finally there was a break in the oncoming traffic. The guy in car #1 turned left and headed towards those condos. At no point during this incident did he ever use his turn signal.
With the blockage out of the way, we were finally able to proceed. And I did what any good driver would do. I leaned out of my car, held my left hand as high as I could, and flipped the bird with so much energy that I strained several muscles in my fingers. This was not the timid “wait until there’s no way you can catch me” variety of the bird that is typically flipped as someone passes on. This was straight up bird in the face, yo.
That business settled, I directed my attention to the mission at hand. This was the reason I was in my car in the first place. I was heading down the street two blocks hence to partake of an Egg McMuffin sandwich from the McDonalds.
I got into the drive-thru and was quickly sandwiched from behind. I was committed. No escape.
And that’s when it happened. Lo and behold, guess who showed up to make his appearance known? Yep. It was the sonofabitch in car #1.
What an exercise in motivation. I thought I knew I thing or two but I was about to get schooled by a master.
Yep. He had seen my decidedly non-friendly hand gesture and had decided to take action. Apparently almost causing a three-way traffic accident wasn’t a full enough day. No, not for this guy. Rather than proceeding underground into his condo’s parking lot, instead he had gone around the traffic circle, somehow got through that intersection – again – and gave chase.
Miracle of miracles, somehow he was even able to maintain line of sight on his target and track me down all the way to the McDonald’s one-half mile away. The very location where I found myself in my car and boxed in by other cars in the drive-thru.
On a side note: I have to admit, there is little in life that rocks my world more than the “angry driver turn around.” When there is a driving incident, what all the participants are supposed to do is flip each other off and then continue on their merry way. But every once in a while, a super asshole will ignore this basic convention of societal behavior. It happened last year with a douchebag in a gigantor pickup. My wife had changes lanes in front of him, he got angry, and he gave The Look as he roared by. We pulled into our destination and he went one block, did a U-turn and came back. That was it. Game on. I flew out of that car and jumped in his face. But that’s another story. Suffice it to say that people willing do perform the angry driver turn around maneuver do not deserve to live.
But I digress. Back to the action…
He pulled into the parking lot and was perhaps a mere twenty feet away. He was gesticulating wildly and I gathered he wanted to have some sort of conversation with me. So I rolled down my window.
“What the fuck is your problem?” he screamed at the top of his lungs. You have to imagine the froth and spittle he emitted while asking this question. It would have been enough to double the flow of yonder San Diego River.
Clearly car #1 was not used to being trifled with.
“Are you an idiot?” I replied, matching his loquaciousness with my own. I realized I was also screaming at the top of my lungs. “You just about fucked that intersection back there.” And then, almost as an afterthought, I added, “NO LEFT TURN!!! NO LEFT TURN!!!”
I thought I made a rather logical point.
Then he enlivened the conversation just a skosh more. “You should go around flipping people off. You never know who has a gun. You better hope I don’t have a gun.”
At first I failed to see the logic in his words. A gun? What the fuck does that have to do with anything? How in the hell did we suddenly get to talking about a gun? There was no gun. Then I realized he was threatening me.
This had a way of getting my attention. Several thoughts race through me mind. First, I didn’t own a gun. That seemed suddenly rather pertinent. I was kind of wishing I did, though, because if I was ever going to need one, this seemed like it might have been the time. Pew Pew! That that, motherfucker!
Second, I was trapped. And, of all places, in the drive-thru.
I realized my options were rather limited. So I did what any future negativity specialist would do.
“Bullshit!” I shot back. “You got a gun? Let’s see it! LET’S FUCKING SEE IT!!! LET’S FUCKING SEE IT!!!” I was now making his early froth seem like nothing.
Even now I remember the look on the dude’s face. He almost looked shocked. Perhaps it was disappointment. I seriously doubted that he even had a gun. He had hoped for what? To see me cry? To drive away in fear? This was a sonofabitch who had turned around to escalate the situation, but he had played all of his cards and suddenly seemed confused. What to do now?
The fight taken out of him, he muttered something about, “You’re crazy, dude,” and then drove away. And I was still demanding to see his gun.
So, there it is. My brush with a potentially gun-toting psychotic asshole driver. I think it was one of the defining moments of my life. And I really enjoyed the part where I got back to work with my precious Egg McMuffin and regaled my coworkers with the story of the gun.
Finally settling down and taking a bite, I had to admit. It probably wasn’t worth it.