Becoming Close Friends at the Crossroads
-Fred Stock

             People are funny. They live through a successful life, make ample money, create an honorable family, contribute to their community, generally achieve upright citizenship. Then they get behind the wheel. Cellphone strapped to one ear, coffee (or something sturdier perhaps) in the cup holder, sitting on the seat belt, and suddenly the good citizen becomes a hazard on wheels with an attitude.

            Heading to the post office box the other day, we were suddenly overtaken by a roaring sports car. It snapped from the right lane into our lane, passing within inches of our bumper, then jamming the brake to avoid the pick-up truck just ahead. Now, ordinarily that would inspire my obnoxious side to the fore, but this time for some reason I waxed reflective. The construction guy in the pick-up truck saw this occurring behind him and braced for the collision… that wasn’t.

            Next signal the elderly blue-haired lady behind the wheel of the Jag raced up behind the truck as though she hadn’t seen him until the last moment. Then she let the car edge forward till it nearly touched the back of the pick-up. The framer watched nervously as she rolled closer and yet closer. Finally stopping, she appeared to be transfixed by her rear view mirror, perhaps checking to see that none of her cosmetic surgical tucks had let go. The signal changed, and the truck pulled away, but she failed to notice. Then she stomped the accelerator to catch her escaping prey.

            Next signal the events repeated the same script. By now the pick-up operator was getting a bit perturbed. One more signal, one more high speed approach and creeping roll, and the workman set the hand brake and exited his unit. He was a huge burly man with his name embroidered on his shirt and a leather tool belt with an enormous hammer slung on his hip. He walked calmly toward the rear of his truck, then stopped at the Jag. From his tool belt came… no, not the hammer, but a metal tape measure. (I eased forward so she couldn’t back away. I was helping.)

            He made an oscar-winning stage-presence routine of accurately measuring the distance between the two bumpers. Then he carefully read his measure tape, walked around to her side of the Jag and announced, “Why don’t you pull forward another couple of inches? That’ll get you there sooner!” Then he calmly walked back up to his cab, and for the remainder of the signal wait, he had his truck in reverse, with the white lights glaring in her eyes, and the back-up alarm going “beep beep beep beep!”

            She was white as a sheet as the truck finally drove away from the intersection, and she immediately changed lanes and hastily fled. Meanwhile in the post office, I thanked him. He smiled. -fhs