Honks, Expletives, and Relentless Traffic: Dispatches from the Wild Wild Road

The driver lets out a sigh as he waits for pedestrians to cross the street at the speed of molasses. Seeing that one of them has a walker, he eases up on the steering wheel, which he’d been gripping tightly before. “No one to blame, Anger. Stay down,” he instructs his festering emotions. The walker scoots along. 

Directly after, another pedestrian enters the crosswalk. He is an able-bodied man with white skin and long legs. He is taking a surprisingly long time. 

“F*** this,” says the driver as he places his hand on the horn. A long loud honk fills the air. 

The pedestrian, who has the right of way, glares at the honker before pulling up his pant leg to reveal scars. “Not all handicaps are visible, Asshole!” he yells.

This pedestrian, the same one who was just misunderstood, then gets into his own car and becomes the driver; succumbing, not far in, to his own bout of road rage.

~~

A subservient car keeps letting other cars into his lane. I want to tell him to be more assertive. I want to tell him to honk. I want to tell him to maybe let one car in, or maybe even two, but after that: speed up and claim your space, Sir.  

“If you keep doing that you’re never gonna get to where you’re going,” I want to say.

Another car doesn’t let anyone in. He inserts himself into a lane without signaling. He glares at a slowly-moving pedestrian. “MUST you take your sweet damn time crossing the street?”

Or he’ll say, to a stalled car in front of him: “I’ll go around you, but not without putting forth a punitive honk. Then I’ll dramatically speed up to show you just how much you inconvenienced me.”

“Why can’t you just SIGNAL?” a driver yells to another driver.

Why can’t you let innocent mistakes go? I’m human,” the other driver responds.

Innocent? You’re navigating a killing machine. People’s lives are at stake when you make last minute decisions. Foresight takes one damn flick of the wrist; you’re not sacrificing much.

~~~

When the streets are crowded, it’s every person for their own. We don’t want to share. Maybe we feel like we can’t afford to. 

The car next to you honks for you to let him into your lane, angrily reminding me to be a good citizen.

At moments of peak stress and traffic congestion, the car that cuts in front of you is a selfish b******. The cars that don’t let you in are also selfish b*******s. We’re more livid if it’s a Hummer, maybe a little less if the car is small, scrappy, and donning an appearance that’s at once beat-up and un-assuming. 

Why is there so much honking? wonders the slow driver. Then: Oh my God, slow the eff down, you’re going to kill someone.

 Why is there so much incompetence? the speedster demands to know. Then: Oh my God, hurry the eff up, you’re gonna get us all fired from our jobs.

Honk honk honk. Goose-like cries. Middle fingers. Angry faces.

Just another day out on the road.

~~~~~~~~~

Welcome to the nature show “Cars are Animals.”

Traffic is horrible today. Cars are backed up for blocks and blocks and blocks, and no one knows why. No driver can see the cause of the obstruction. All they know is that they haven’t moved and can’t predict when they will.

Most drivers quietly accept their circumstances. They resign themselves to uncertainty, conceding to the probability that they’ll never know the reason, nor can they change their situation—they’ll merely have to wait it out. 

Most drivers except for one—a duck. In his refusal to accept them, this duck offsets his feelings of tension onto the surrounding drivers. He squawks and squawks and squawks and squawks, each squawk communicating in no uncertain terms: I am frustrated and upset.

The duck continues to squawk long after his message has been made known to the other creatures in the backed-up, congested herd. Perhaps he hopes the honk will reach the source of the obstruction and force them to modify their inconsiderate, traffic-halting behavior, thereby altering the circumstances so that the herd can carry on as it normally does.

But rather than arrive at the source, the honks only heighten the stress levels of the surrounding animals, all of whom are already struggling to make peace with an unpleasant situation. They pierce through the equanimity all are striving to attain, attempting to surrender themselves to. They yank the animals from the sanctuary of their own minds out into the present reality.

Most of us will cross paths with this duck every now and again. Maybe sometimes, in extreme circumstances–(hopefully no more than one or two times in our life)– we will even be that duck.

I think it’d be far preferable if instead of honking, we played beautiful music instead. Whatever it takes for us to not become that cranky duck. Because I think we can all agree that he sort of sucks.

~~~~~~~~~

Photo credits

http://www.neboagency.com/blog/how-to-get-best-work-from-agency/angry cat driver

Slow pedestrians– https://www.dreamstime.com/warning-sign-slow-pedestrian-crossing-traffic-sign-warning-pedestrians-approaching-banks-flathead-lake-montana-image156207336

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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