Nobody has accused me of mellowing as I age, but I’m starting to think I am.
This morning as I was driving to work, a truck coming the opposite way on a narrow side street, veered around a parked car and missed crunching me by the width of the driver’s soon to be confiscated drivers’ license.
Did I swear at him? Did I threaten his children? Did I take down his tag number and report him to the police, to his boss, to 1-800-U-CNT-DRV? (Oh, behave yourself — that’s ‘CAN’T.’)
No. I raised one finger to him. But to the surprise of both of us AND all the kids at the nearby school bus stop, it wasn’t the middle finger. For some inexplicable reason, I raised my thumb to him.
Do you consider the thumbs up after a near fatal crash to be
(B) Sensible? or
(C) Incredibly Weird?
Clearly, I’m mellowing. Then again, I have to. Traffic in Northern Virginia where I live has intensified recently. Eight years ago, I was lucky. I worked only 30 minutes from home. Now, I work about an hour and a quarter away on light traffic days. Same job; same route, same house. It makes me crabby.
But in January, I came to a realization. Since I’m in the car a lot, I either need a bazooka or an attitude adjustment. A quick price check made the decision for me in no time. Vehicle destroying weapons are tres cher, according to the plain clothes policeman standing outside CIA Headquarters holding a late model bazooka. So attitude it is.
And I have the perfect role model for my new-found sunny driving disposition: my mother. Unlike my friends’ mothers, my Mom was a horrible driver. My siblings and I fought her for the keys for even the shortest car hops. And that was before we got our drivers licenses.
Mom was always nice to everyone when she was driving, though. She was especially nice the time that guy jumped onto the hood of her car at the 7-11 around the corner. Of course, he hadn’t started out on the hood. He was originally on the pay phone in front of her when she put the car into drive instead of reverse.
“I’ve never seen anyone jump that high,” she said, once she stopped shrieking. “Do you think he’s an acrobat? He landed right on top of my car, jumped off and ran away.”
“Mom, he jumped onto the hood to avoid becoming a paraplegic,” I reminded her.
“I suppose you’re right. But you know,” she said, “he should have checked to see that I was OK. That would have been the polite thing to do.”
And so, with Mom as my role model, I will be nice to everyone on the road, even folks who jump onto the hood of my car to avoid hospitalization. And I will continue doing this until my family pries the keys out of my hand one last time. And they’ll have an easier time of it, too, because of my new attitude. With my thumbs up, it’ll be easier to get the keys.