I’m a nice person. I’m friendly and I laugh at jokes and I’ll position myself as less-than just to make you feel better. If people-pleasing was a stock, I’d be Warren Buffet. But no matter how hard I try to fight it, when I’m in traffic I am an asshole. It’s like the pavement offers me some sort of release, an opportunity to vent a lifetime of buried angst. I go out of my way to give a dirty look. I bang on the dashboard till my hands are black and blue. I scream until the veins in my neck shake. Don’t look at me on the road, I’m a monster.
So I hop on the 110 freeway and it’s 5pm. I’m in a bad mood (again) because I dared travel 7 miles from my house (again) and it’s taking me almost an hour to get where I’m going (again.) I’m in a bad mood because I live in Los Angeles and there are too many cars and too many douchey drivers. I’m in a bad mood because EVERY DJ has decided to talk on their station at the exact same time.
We are not moving. My blood begins to boil. I raise my hand for some good, old fashioned dash-smacking, and catch a glimpse of a woman in a Honda Odyssey next to me. She is driving almost on top of the steering wheel, her breasts spilling out at 4 and 8 o'clock. I think she might not be able to breathe. She’s yelling at 3 children who appear to be breakdancing while they kick the back of her seat. She has moved up out of sheer protection. Behind her a guy in a Mercedes (of course) tailgates and texts on his phone (of course.) And lucky for me we’re moving slowly because I can barely take my eyes off of the situation. I am overcome with road-lastima which is evidently the antidote for road-rage. It’s no longer about me and where I’m headed. I want to slam on the breaks and help this woman. I want to stop the lanes and let her pass through with ease. I want to hold her together as she comes undone.
She clutches the wheel, stuck in a jam, blinker on, eyes darting to the rearview mirror. She can’t move forward and she can’t slow down and she can’t go on with those crazy kids. I tap my horn. I smile. I give her a thumbs up. She seems relieved, like that one second of recognition just saved her life. I motion for her to go ahead of me and the car behind me honks with hate, but I don’t even react. As she pulls her massive car in front of me, “Welcome To The Jungle” begins to play on the radio. I sing at the top of my lungs and I wave at every car who passes me by.
p.s. I once used my phone to hit the dashboard and shattered the screen. I am not proud of this.
p.p.s. I look for senior drivers because they have mastered driving too close to the wheel. The lastima calms me down.