Cars Are Animals and the Road’s a Jungle

A porcupine stands in the middle of the road. Body completely still, its wide-open eyes stare placidly towards my passengers and me.

I see it too late. We all brace ourselves as I slam the brakes and the car swerves violently. Just as it seems we’re about to crash into a stop sign, my Toyota Corolla converts into a hover car, growing wings and gliding up into the air. 

From even just a few feet above, cars resemble colorful bugs..

One hundred or so feet above, my passengers and I witness the frenetic activity of the cars below. One takes out his camcorder and begins narrating, as if we’re observing a nature show.

From this dream was born the following piece.


From even just a few feet above, cars resemble colorful bugs, scuttling from one point to another (maybe glittering ones too, depending on the lighting and time of day). At peak traffic times we’re like rabid ants– stopping, starting, and scurrying in disarrayed confused.

The car who beeped his horn while huffily speeding past another is a sassy, impatient squirrel. 

Those bigger trucks—especially the ones carrying piles of precariously stacked items in their posteriors—are scary, unbalanced hippos.

And those creatures that lazily slide into another car-animal’s lane without using their turn signal are squinty-eyed ducks that have smoked a lot of weed (“Oh hey, is this okay?” I imagine them saying with eyes half closed as they pull that crap on you).

A slow, meandering, animal complains that there’s too much noise around him, while the destructive speedster cheetah gripes of too much incompetence– then glares up at us in the hover car because he too just wants to be above it all.

Cops are like sharks in that their presence seems to subdue all the nearby animals.

Drivers’ collective reaction when a police arrives at an intersection reminds me of the way students react when their strict teacher returns to the classroom after a brief departure. Loud chattering and slouched postures give way to silence and straightened torsos.

I also think of meerkats– standing tall, erect, and vigilant of their environment when they know a predator’s nearby.

The eyes of aforementioned High Duck go from squinty to wide open. The huffy squirrel slows down, no longer zipping ahead of the other cars. All maneuver subserviently under the shark’s punitive and threatening watch. All become skittish and quasi- obedient.

Suddenly on their best behavior, drivers now use their turn signals– even if they’re just turning inside a parking lot. They rotate their heads multiple times to communicate a responsible cognizance of their surroundings to the po. They wait a full five seconds after pausing at a blinking red light or a stop sign. Sometimes I’m like, come on guys, two would have been enough– before I too proceed to wait for five seconds.

Once the shark swims away, the motley crew of motored creatures resume their previous (unruly) behavior. Just another day out in the animal kingdom on the road.


Photo Credits

Colorful bugs–Ambers Textiles, society6

Published by esteph42190

A 30-year-old queer bilingual writer born and raised in the Bay Area, I’ve been writing since before I knew how to spell. Balancing my generative energy with a desire to inform, as a child I printed and distributed to classmates publications that included The News Newsletter and Health Digest (ironic considering I also ran an illicit candy business that landed me in the principal’s office several times). As a student at UC Davis I wrote for The California Aggie, with pieces ranging from an exploration of gender roles in the movie Tangled to my own weekly psychology column. After graduating I kept a bilingual blog of my 14 months living in Montevideo, Uruguay, and upon returning continued to blog about social issues and human psychology.

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