Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hitting a new low

I’ve heard all the jokes about old people who are cranky all the time, and ever since I officially became an old person, I’ve wanted to dispel that rumor. I’ve always imagined myself growing old gracefully the way my grandmother did, with a perpetual smile on my face and a kind word for everybody. Lately, I’m really struggling with that.

Over the past two or three years, since the post-Katrina population explosion created one endless traffic jam on Baton Rouge area roads, I’ve developed an unpleasant habit. I find that in the semi-soundproof sanctuary of my automobile, where I’m sure no one can hear me, I have begun to state out loud my opinion of other drivers and to address them by names that seem appropriate only in the heat of the moment.”

Sometimes I do it in the form of a statement: “That’s really smart, (expletive deleted).”

Or it may be in the form of a question: “What the hell kind of signal was that, (expletive deleted)?”

To be clear, the drivers who tick me off are doing stupid things, creating traffic hazards, and possibly putting my life in danger, so they totally deserve to have it called to their attention. Still, I’m too cowardly wise to confront an idiot like that directly, so it isn't as if anyone's behavior is being changed by my words. All the anger does is make me feel bad. I know it would be healthier for me to blow it off, let it go, and I’m really working on that.

But last week? Last week I was driving on a little residential side street. There was no traffic at all. Half a block ahead of me, I spotted a squirrel in the grass near the curb on my left. I could tell by looking at him that he was thinking about crossing the road, so I slowed down and watched carefully. Just before I pulled up even with the squirrel, he darted into my path. I braked hard, and I promise you my first thought was, “Ohhhh, be careful little squirrel!”

I didn’t hit the squirrel. But the squirrel didn’t cross the road, either. He stopped directly in front of my right front tire and looked from one side of the street to the other, back and forth, back and forth. “Hmm, what should I do?” he seemed to be thinking. “Should I go back to where I started? Or would it make more sense to go the rest of the way to the other side of the street? Let me think...I’m just. Not. Sure. What I want to do. This lady doesn’t seem inclined to run over me, so I have some time to make up my mind. Hum-de-dum-de-dum, eeny, meeny, miney, mo.” And then he turned around and crossed in front of me again, right back to where he’d started.

That’s when I called a squirrel an a$$hole, right out loud.

I'm worried that I may have crossed some kind of a line.


  1. Oh Velvet, I DO get it! Too Funny!

    Having driven quite a bit in both pre and post Katrina Louisiana / Mississippi traffic, I'm amazed at the difference!

    Somehow, I think you are better off to blow off the steam rather than keeping it bottled up!

  2. Do we really need one more squirrel? I find myself swearing at them for torturing my dog but when I could run right over them I brake too! Who knew? I guess I don't have that killer instinct - except when it comes to possums.

    Traffic here is bad too, one reason I don't drive back and forth to work anymore. I keep imagining crashes and I don't want to die that way. I rather be shot dead than wake up in a hospital with all my bones broken or a head injury.

  3. Sorry about that, my comments sound really depressing, don't they?

  4. I tell off other drivers all the time, too, and I noticed that it's just been the past few years that I've been saying things out loud. It sure feels good, doesn't it?

    I just remembered-when I first moved back home, my mom would lean over and honk the horn at idiot drivers or jaywalkers, until I pointed out that some people carried guns and weren't shy about using them. That stopped her.

  5. I love reading your posts bring out all emotions in laughed right out loud!!! causing my co-workers to wonder (again) if there really is something wrong with me. Thanks for the laugh!! Oh...and I comment and give out advice out loud to drivers on the road all the makes me feel better (although I am usually glad they can't hear me)

  6. I to would cuss and yell at drivers who did stupid things on the road that almost caused me to have an accident etc. That all stopped a few years ago when a driver pulled straight across the lane I was in blocking me from advancing any futher. I put up both of my hands as if to say "what the heck are you doing". the next thing I know I am stareing down the barrel of a gun that he is pointing at me from the inside of his car. Needless to say I almost s*** in my pants as I ducked down behind my dashboard thinking he was going to fire the thing.

    Since that day I have kept my comments to myself and my hands on the wheel. I live in Atlanta so you can imagine the traffic and the idiots driving in it.

  7. I honestly laughed out loud at this post Velvet. I'm there....I do the same thing., you haven't crossed the line......yet. Sigh, you've crossed the line when you cuss out a large crushed up empty box that's fallen off a truck full of trash and has landed in your lane....almost causing YOU to get rear-ended. Yep, I called that hummer everything under the sun and really WANTED to run over it but knew that would really push me WAY over the line.

  8. CreekHiker, believe me, I've tried to bottle it up. Watch out for flying bottle caps!

    Nan16, no, your comments don't sound depressing. I think it's normal, as we find ourselves in the back half of our lives, to think about the inevitability of death. It's probably also natural to think of what would be the best way to die and what would be the worst. Now that I think about it, would somebody please pass the butter? (Just kidding, God, if You're reading this.)

    Janet, there was a guy on Last Comic Standing tonight who said that there should be some national hand signal that means "I know I'm a jackass." He suggested that if some guy cuts you off in traffic and, just as you're about to start cussing him, he makes the I-know-I'm-a-jackass signal, it would make you stop cussing and say, "Well, okay then, he already knows he's a jackass." Don't you think that's a clever idea to dissipate road rage?

    Sassystoppers, thanks for visiting my blog. I know exactly what you mean about being glad no one can hear you when you say what you think to other drivers. I'd love for them to know that someone is thinking bad thoughts about them; I just don't want them to know it's ME.

    Anonymous, you have just described the scenario that makes me really want to defeat this habit. I'd probably have dropped dead from fright if someone had pulled a gun on me.

    Val, I'd have cursed the crushed up box and the truck it fell off of. Your comment made me think about one time when a friend of my ex-husband's ordered an expensive, custom-made motorcycle fairing. He waited for about eight weeks for the big plastic (fiberglass?) thing to arrive at the motorcycle shop, then went to pick it up. It was in a big cardboard box, which, for some reason, he didn't think needed to be tied down in the bed of his pickup truck. One big pothole later, it had bounced off the truck and onto I-10, where it was promptly run over by a couple of 18-wheelers. Don't you wish you'd been driving a big rig when the box flew right in front of you?

  9. I was thinking more of a lighted sign on the windshield that could be activated at the touch of a button, spelled backwards so the jackass person could see it in the rear view mirror. Same for the rear windshield-I'd love one that says "BACK OFF, JERK!".

  10. i have no problem with anyone voicing their opinions of fellow drivers, but our youngest daughter has a habit of flipping people off or saying it very loudly with the window down and has on more than occassion had a driver stop and get out of their car and confront her. We kept trying to tell her to let off steam but not so obviously. Too many people out there are ready for fisticuffs at the drop of a hat!

    peace and blessings


    p.s. we are glad you stopped for the squirrel!

  11. Keepers, it's frightening to see our children put themselves at risk, even when they're grown. I think you've given her good advice.


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