So tonight I had one of my encounters with the clinically insane on the highways of greater Pittsburgh. I think this is going to have to become one of my ongoing series, because honestly, what the hell. I must have some kind of pheromone that attracts them to me. It doesn't matter what car I'm driving, if I'm even the driver, or where I am. These people sniff the air, take a swig of Wild Turkey, and head out a-swervin'.
This week has been just pure suck from start to finish. Work has been really hectic, I haven't felt well, and PennDOT is continuing its efforts to make me finally go off my nut. Last night, I was up until about 4:00 (even though I got in bed at 2:00) with a washcloth on my forehead, willing myself to just die already rather than continue the sudden migraine I got almost as soon as I got in the door. So I don't know why I was hoping that tonight, when I knew I was going to have to take an absolutely ridiculous route home actually through downtown Pittsburgh, (which is one of the worst places I've ever had to drive) I hoped I could just listen to Patty Griffin and mellow out and forget about the week.
And here's where I need to interrupt for my story-within-the-story.
It was really foggy tonight, and fog always makes me think of a friend I had in college who grew up in New Orleans. One Halloween, he and I went to a club in Delaware (for those who don't know, I went to college on the eastern shore of Maryland, very close to Delaware) and wound up having a very, very spooky ride back to Chestertown in my Festiva. I'm not going to use his real name, as he and I are not friends anymore. So I'll call him FF for "former friend." We hit this sudden fog that for some reason just gave both of us the creeps. It was thick and hung in these layers that I'd never seen before and I've never seen since. And FF told me about what "the voodoo people" say about fog: that it's the souls of those in purgatory, chained together, fated to walk the earth forever. It's not foggy here very often, at least not at the hours when I'm usually on the road, and I always think of that conversation when I drive through fog.
So I thought maybe there could be some purgatorial element to how I will probably think of FF every time I drive through fog for the rest of my life, and how those thoughts, the ones we can't control, the ones that drift in and out of our lives so much like fog, might be a way in which souls can be linked forever. And I thought about how I felt to have my soul linked to thoughts of a person I find to be such an unkind human being.
As I was starting to think that maybe this idea could become a poem, I needed to merge from one highway onto another. It was after midnight, and there's usually just a handful of people on the road then. As I was about to merge onto the highway from the on-ramp lane, which ends, but not too abruptly, this guy in some late '80s land yacht decided that he hated me. He actually sped up so I couldn't merge. He had a completely empty lane right next to him, and anyone else who's ever driven a car would have just moved over, especially at the speed he was going, but he apparently had decided that I was not worthy of driving on the same road as him. So he boxed me in and I had to slam on my brakes and swoop behind him. That just pissed me off, especially since he'd broken my goddamn train of thought. Never do that. That's how people get their skulls cracked.
So I did what any extremely angry and possibly unbalanced person would have done with my limited resources. I blasted my horn and high-beamed him for about 10 seconds, which in my mind was an appropriate punishment. Then I got over it and passed him. He tried to high-beam me, but as I said, he was in an '80s land yacht, so his high beams were ineffective and laughable. It was like an attempted rape by the world's smallest-dicked man.
Side note: Even my low beams are blinding. Not long ago, I was following my brother home at night and the whole way, he thought I was trying to get his attention. When we got home, he got out of his car, stormed over to me in the driveway, and said "What the hell?! Why were you beaming me?!" to which I said, "Those aren't my high beams...these are." And then he screamed like a vampire in sunlight.
Back to Birdshit-For-Brains. I tried to outrun him, but his land yacht was surprisingly fast. I was doing 90 on Green Tree Hill, but then traffic picked up, so I just slowed down and boxed him in, which drove him even crazier and made me laugh. He was still trying to high-beam me, so I flipped him off. Then he rode up beside me and we got to take a nice look at one another. Unfortunately. I just gave him a huge smile as he screamed and gestured and jiggled all over the front seat. Dude had to weigh at least 400. The reason behind his choice of vehicle was instantly apparent. I mean, I don't make fun of people for being big, because I'm not one to talk, but seriously, dude. No wonder you hate life.
Then he started swerving, like he was going to intentionally hit my car. Now, I wasn't scared of him, but I was getting a bit sick of his antics. I knew that if he forced me off the road, I had nothing heavy enough to hit him with that would just take him down. So I started thinking of the areas I would punch if I had to. Never be without a battle plan. I had settled on an upward butt of the hand to the nose, a punch to the throat if I couldn't reach the nose, and possibly a knee to the groin if it were accessible. You never know what might be hidden under fat flaps, and I like to have options. I also knew that I had the power of built-up rage on my side and that no matter how big you are, you will lose a fight with a Ford sedan every time.
Then we were in the Ft. Pitt tunnel, and he started doing that riding-level shit again. I hate that. I am not scared of you, fucker. On the scale of scary shit I've experienced, you are way down on the list, right between accidentally setting off my smoke detector and oversleeping. So I grabbed my cell phone, flipped it open, and pretended to dial. I'd heard somewhere that whackos get freaked out if they know you have the ability to summon the police. I don't know if that's what did it, but that was the exact moment he chose to speed up and take some evasive maneuvers away from me. That brought me great joy. But nothing like what happened next.
PennDOT has completely shut down a heavily trafficked tunnel here called the Squirrel Hill tunnel, which was the reason for my aforementioned completely insane route home. Traffic there is notoriously awful to begin with, and there is no good detour for large volumes of trafic. You have to go through this tunnel to get just about anywhere. Of course, there are a bunch of side roads, but no other highway for people to detour onto. So people are being routed through residential areas. There was an article (front page, above the fold) in today's paper about the detour route and just how absolutely awful it was going to be. An assistant chief of police called it a "nightmare." So I thought about it ahead of time and decided to go the fuck around this mess.
Well, I might have guessed that reading and thinking ahead were not two of Birdshit's hobbies. Or general life skills. So he drove off towards his giant steaming pile of detour, and I cackled as I went off on my wildly circuitous tour of the city proper and outskirts. This was about two hours ago, and I am on my couch in pajama bottoms, sipping ice-cold Gatorade and watching TNT in an air-conditioned room while he is most likely still sitting in traffic somewhere, loathing his very existence. And that makes my toes curl with an orgasmic sense of rightness-with-the-world.