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Brief re-cap: I’m in my car in the midst of a rare Texas snowstorm, currently trapped at an intersection that is possibly a portal to the Demon World, and I appear to be the only human left on the planet with even a whiff of sense. Okay, go…
The lame-brained honking behind me continued to the point that I slightly snapped, turning around as much as the seatbelt would allow (safety first!), glaring directly at the idiot behind me, and raising both of my hands in the universal symbol for “what the HELL is wrong with you?” He promptly returned the same gesture (because stupid and annoying people are rarely creative), and then he pounded on the horn some more. Clearly, this man had emotional issues that would have Freud salivating on his cigar.
I turned back around to check on the cold-war stand-off of the cars in front of me, to find that Kennedy and Khrushchev were still staring each other down and waiting for the other to do something about the situation. I glanced at my fuel gauge again, hoping that I had just misread it. Nope. Still on the big fat “E”.
I sighed. This was not good. If I ran out of gas in the middle of this mess, I didn’t think I had the strength to even deal with asking any of these Neanderthals for help. Instead, I would just calmly open my door, proceed to the back of the car, flop down on the ground, and then fasten my lips on the exhaust pipe, hoping there was still enough poison in there to at least render me unconscious.
Suddenly, there was movement with the dueling banjos in front of me. The guy on the right has apparently decided that he’s had enough (or he’s just bored), because he starts backing up, down the icy hill (brave guy), and then he deftly manipulates his vehicle off to the side. (It’s quite clear that he grew up somewhere that was not Texas.) Once he’s out of the way, he motions at the other car with the international symbol for “fine, go ahead, have at it, ya big ole skank”.
The skank on the left then punches the gas with all her might, with a victorious but otherwise clueless expression on her face. This, of course, causes the tires to spin and the car to start shifting sideways. I briefly consider marching up to her car with a tire iron, bashing in her window, and then slapping her until her teeth rattle, because I am so done with people at this point.
But I don’t bash or slap. I often have questionably-violent visions about what I can do to the annoying people of the world, but my actions are usually tempered by the realization that stupidity is legion on this planet. They keep appearing on the horizon, stumbling over the Hill of Ineptitude, endlessly. At some point you’ve got to call it a day and go watch “Seinfeld” reruns.”
Eventually, the woman calms down, takes a more tender approach with her maneuvering, and finally gets her ride under control. She wrenches the wheel around and is soon crunching her way down into the adjacent Valley of Gridlocked Cars and Maniacal Motorists . I fervently hope that the lynch mob over there will rip her to shreds and then leave her skull on a pole as a warning to any other idiots that try anything else.
See? Violent visions. I really am working on that angle, with a butt-ton of soothing prescription bottles in my medicine cabinet (The Hope Chest?) to prove it. (Medical Insurance Agent on the phone: “My, you seem to be taking a lot of pills. Are we sure we’re on the right path? Perhaps I could send you a few brochures for a lovely facility in Dripping Springs.”)
The guy who had backed his car up then looks at me. He makes a half-hearted motion along the lines of “Why don’t you go ahead, too. Everybody else is stomping on what’s left of my pathetic life”.
I signal back with “No, no, you go ahead, you’ve got the right of way. Besides, you just showed a modicum of intelligence in this mess, and I kind of heart you right now. Please, you first.”
But he’s insisting. “You go.” (Perhaps he’s grown leery of ever driving anywhere again, contemplating the option of just staying in that exact spot, forever, and putting up a mailbox.
Fine. I’ll go. I’m just about to slip the car in drive when the guy behind me has the nerve to honk his horn again.
Oh no he didn’t. This game is on.
I emphatically gesture to my soul-brother on the right that he needs to get his ass away from that curb and head down this road immediately or we’re all gonna be havin’ dinner with Jesus. I want the angry twit behind me to suffer by having to wait any extra second I can squeeze out of this situation. Damn honking fool. Show you, I will.
Brother on the right somehow receives the determination in my message, works his car to the middle of the road, and starts rolling along. Once he clears the front of my car, I s-l-o-w-l-y ease in behind him, taking as much time as I can until the honker behind me is nearly beside himself in self-created apoplexy. This gives me a small tinge of satisfaction, even though I shouldn’t be seeking such validation. If this moment turns out to be my punch-ticket to Hell, so be it.
Once there’s enough room for the honker behind me to get around the rear of my vehicle, he squeezes through onto the main road, and then he floors it in the direction of Death Valley, causing the rear of his car to clip another car parked on the side of the road. I glance at the driver of this other car, and she’s sitting there with her eyes wide, clutching a rosary in one hand and a cigarette in the other. She will never be the same. Peace be with you, sister. It’s just not going to happen today.
Down in the valley, I think I can hear the muffled sound of crunching metal, followed by emphatic expletives and a chorus of disapproval by the blood-thirsty mob as Honker Man meets his fate. I don’t actually bother to look, because I’m too busy being a safe driver and not an ass. (Well, mostly not an ass. Have I mentioned medication?)
I follow the guy in front of me as we weave our way through the school zone where all of this is happening, making the whole tableau a rather realistic symbol of the sad state of American public-school education. There are stuck cars on both sides of us, all with the same general occupant content: There’s a harried housewife in the driver’s seat, exasperation all over her face as she fiddles with the gearshift and gas pedals, trying to get the car out of the deep ruts she has created by spinning her wheels madly.
In the back seats, we have tons of children who are already bored and fussy. As we roll by, they press their faces against the windows, begging for release or at least entertainment. It’s like some twisted urban zoo, or maybe a futuristic natural-disaster museum. “This is how the stupid people died in the Dallas Snowstorm of 2010. No cameras, please.”
We get through that mess, and now we’re back at the intersection with Gibbs Williams. I actually think the guy in front of me intended to turn right on Gibbs, because he flipped his blinker on, but then he slid right past the street. He finally skids to a halt, pauses a moment, then his head drops on the steering wheel in frustration.
Poor guy. Really sad. But hey, I’ve got things to do. I manage to make the turn and I’m soon rumbling along Gibbs Williams. At the far end of this street, there’s another exit from the neighborhood. This one also involves a steep hill, but it’s not as bad as the other two escape routes I’ve tried. Maybe this one will work. I’ve got to get out of here somehow, because I’m really low on gas. Starting to get a little worked up about that.
About halfway to my newest destination, as I’m barely keeping the car under control in the increasingly deeper snow, I hear an odd shout of conquering triumph and suddenly three cackling kids race out into the middle of the street about twenty feet ahead. They turn my direction and start hurling snowballs at my car.
You have got to be kidding me. What dumbass mutant gene do these urchins have that would make them think this is a good idea? I gently hit the brake and try to control the fishtailing as I slide in their direction. The car shudders to a halt just as they high-five each other and race back to the sidewalk, laughing in that “I’ve never been told ‘no’ in my life” sort of way. This is how nations fail, right there.
Where are their parents? They are nowhere to be found. But I can proffer a guess: They’re probably somewhere watching “Fox News”, hooked to the morphine drip that is convincing them that the school teachers in America are responsible for raising their children, not them. Here’s the deal: Whatever your child does, is on you. Not the school system, not the government, not the mailman. You.
Anyway, I put the car back in gear and putter my way toward the end of this street. As mentioned, there’s a downward slope at the end. As I roll over the crest of the hill, I have a clear view of the madness at the bottom of the incline. It’s not a pretty sight.
There are cars sprawled all over the place, and the road is completely blocked. Tons of people are just standing around, staring at their immobilized cars and not knowing what to do. There are a few kind citizens actually trying to help out, lined up behind one car and attempting to shove the thing to a point where the driver can get better traction.
But for the most part, dimwitted folks are doing nothing other than squawking into cell phones and trying to keep their designer, thigh-high boots from getting wet. (You can’t buy tires with some decent tread, but you can afford a cell phone and fancy footwear that could feed hundreds of hungry children if you spent your money on things that really mattered?) Get your lazy ass in the street and help move some cars.
I shake my head, shift into low gear, deftly perform a three-point turn, and head back up the hill. I clearly would not be getting out of the neighborhood via this route. I trundled back up Gibbs Williams, trying to figure out what to do, and I finally turned down a road that crossed my own street, where I had started this whole journey. As I approached that intersection, I seriously thought about just heading home and calling it a day.
But no, this had become personal. I was going to get those damn eggs and onions at the supermarket if it took me two days. Screw the fact that my car was operating on fumes. This was war.
I finally got out of the neighborhood by zig-zagging my way down various side streets until I reached Kiest Boulevard. This put me on the opposite side of where I needed to be, but I was at least out of the hellacious, meandering mini-roads of the neighborhood, where the idiocy was thick and the decency was thin.
Luckily, the main roads are much better. You can actually see pavement, especially in the middle lanes which are basically clear, where cars are lined up in an icy Caravan of the Damned, inching along. I wait for a gap and then quietly join the procession.
Since the grocery store I want is on the other side of the neighborhood, I need to turn right at the next two major intersections. At the first turn, a school bus comes thundering out of nowhere on the cross street, snow flying to both sides. Hey, it’s an impromptu snowplow! I need to take advantage of this. I zip around the corner and get behind the Plow Bus.
This proves to be a good move, initially. There are no traction issues for me as the bus clears a snow-conquering path that is rather admirable in its intensity. (Note to self: Buy a bus.) I settle in behind the lumbering yellow bread loaf and finally relax for a little bit. The only thing I have to worry about at this point are the out-of-control vehicular cannonballs that could come rolling off the side-street hills and broadside me unexpectedly. (Could you at least buy me dinner first before you do that?)
Then I happen to glance up at the kids in the back two rows of the bus, who are staring out the windows at me. They look to be of elementary-school age, and they are really cute in their matching plaid uniforms. Aww. Then one of the darling little boys flips me off.
What? One of his buddies does the same, followed by one of the girls. They’re all laughing and having the best time. Then another boy jumps up, stands at the emergency door, and starts banging his crotch against the glass. The posse of hooligans doubles over in merriment, clutching their stomachs and shouting for more thrusting.
Great. I’m being sexually harassed by the Mickey Mouse Club.
Can this day get any better?
Click here to read the next installment in this series…
Categories: The Stories