“See, dear, this is great. I’m seeing much better.” I had recently undergone cataract surgery and this was my maiden voyage.
Before long, however, some hot shot race car driver wanna-be decided that things were far too tame for him. He pulled first into one lane and then into the other, darting between cars and trucks like a hummingbird in a duel, leaving the rest of us sweating and swearing. Out of nowhere a blue flash sped past everyone, chased the race car driver between rows of tail lights, leaving a disorganized mess of red trying to avoid meshing with the hummingbird or the blue light.
“Relax, Honey,” Hubby said.
“What makes you think I’m not relaxed?”
“I can see the whites of your knuckles.”
One finger at a time, I loosened my fingers on the wheel. A tractor trailer rig passed me and pulled just barely in front of me, leaving me driving between two big rigs, a sedan sandwich. The driver had his eyes pasted somewhere in the distance and I didn’t exist on his radar, the same way a fly sits on the ground in front of a raging bull. I pulled into the next lane to avoid being eaten in that sandwich.
Traffic slowed and instantly I was in the middle of a whole bunch of vehicles, all braking, forming a sea of red lights screaming, “Stop!” After a light year of tensing and looking in the rear view mirror, hoping nothing would plow into this parking lot from behind, we moved. Celebrate! I cautiously pulled out. False alarm, we moved only long enough to change into second gear, and then we halted. We passed a 60 mile per hour speed limit sign so slowly I could have painted it and still driven. I put that speed on my wish list for next Christmas, because we clearly weren’t going to get to go that fast in my lifetime.
Twenty one minutes and 26 seconds later, I finally saw that the problem was an onramp. What idiot decided that two lanes of perfectly full traffic could merge into one with no slowdown? Was he on crack?
One car at a time sped down the onramp aiming toward freeway speed which we were not even close to going, signaled, and then tried to fit his great American Detroit whale into the space not big enough for a bicycle between me and the Buick in front of me. I stopped, and considered backing up, allowing the intruder into the non-existent slot. The driver in back of him tried to weasel his way in too, but no, I wouldn’t let him. He could wait his turn like the rest of us.
When that the jostling for position and power was over, and there was nothing to intrude, traffic picked up again. Slowly at first, the cars resumed their regular positions, accelerating until we were almost up to school zone speed. At this point, we were to merge with another onramp. No one exited, and there was a line of cars and delivery vans trying to enter.
I suspected that the engineers that designed this system thought that the same number of cars would exit as enter. Ha! Why would that happen? People wouldn’t be returning home until evening when the call of children, dinner and a possibility of a soft bed for the night prompted them to participate in another harrowing drive going in the opposite direction. Like the tide, it surged one way in the morning and the other way at night.
The freeway ahead looked like a full parking lot with only one exit. It was moving at a slug’s pace, just enough to keep drivers from reading the morning paper while waiting their turn.
Hubby interrupted my traffic review. “Oh, look, Honey, the mountain is beautiful with the sun beginning to show behind it.”
“I can’t look. I’m too busy keeping this hunk of metal on the road between the chunks of rolling flotsam. Take a picture.”
“If you would only relax, it would be much easier. Oh, and could you slow down so I could get it in focus?”
“No. Catch it when we come to a stop again in a few minutes. By the way, where are we?”
“I thought you could see. Just read the road signs.”
“I can’t see them. I mean I could read them if I could find them, but I’m too busy keeping the crazy drivers from hitting me. Look, the one there in front of me must be blind, because he’s only staying in the lane by bumping the lane markers on one side and then the ones on the other side. He can hear when he isn’t in his lane anymore.”
“Our exit is right up there, you need to get over to the right two lanes. Our exit is next.”
“Over or under this semi next to us?”
“Just slow down a little and then you can go behind him.”
I slowed down all right. So did the truck. Not to be outdone, I slowed more. So did the truck. Finally I caught a glimpse of him in his mirror. He was smiling and signaling that he wanted to move into my lane. I panicked, stepped on my, brake and let him pass, thinking I could just slide into his place in the next lane.
By the time the 18 wheeler was in my lane, the place he had been was already taken by an SUV and a Mini Cooper with an attitude.
“Just signal and put your nose in. You should be good at this. They’ll let you in.” Hubby was full of ideas.
“If we get smashed, it’s your fault. And what do you mean that I should be good at this? ” I said through clenched teeth.
“You’re always putting your nose into things, but I meant it in the kindest way.”
I would have showed him my middle finger if I could have pried it off of the steering wheel. It wasn’t worth it. He would hear from me later that night, besides, I had other things to do just now, like drive.
I signaled, but there wasn’t even a foot to put my nose into. Finally some kind driver let me get the front end of my sedan into his lane. He skidded sideways a little while stopping to let me in. The next lane was a little more difficult. The lane I was in was so bumpy from all of the trucks that had been on it in the last 200 years, doing whatever trucks do to mess up a road, that the car was riding a washboard and my eyes couldn’t focus on anything. I saw the exit, signaled and turned my wheel. Tires screeched, and I didn’t dare look at the other driver for fear of actually seeing his expression.
Hubby squirmed in his seat, “You have to wait until they pass you to do that. You almost hit that poor driver.”
“It wouldn’t have done me any good either, you know.”
“But it was me looking almost under the hood of that SUV,” he said.
I banked hard to the right. Horns blared. I didn’t care. I was almost there. Just as I pulled into the parking lot, the sun was thinking of getting out of bed.
“You seem a little tense. You can relax now.” Hubby was so funny.
I glared at him. “Get me a wrench and some W-D40 to unbolt my white knuckled fingers from the steering wheel, and get a walker for my wobbly legs.”
Together we proceeded into the specialist’s office. I marched up to the receptionist’s window. She opened it slowly, obviously in no hurry.
“Didn’t you get my message? I sent it to you half an hour ago. The doctor is ill today. So your appointment has been changed until tomorrow at the same time.”