Monday, February 28, 2011

L.A. Drivers Drive Me Crazy

People in Southern California can’t drive. Except for me.

“That’s so arrogant,” my wife said when I told her that during a recent outing in the car.

“Yeah, Daddy,” my 7-year-old son added, “you’re being cocky.”

“There are three things L.A. drivers think,” I told my family. “They think they own the road. They think they can multitask while driving. And they think it’s okay to daydream. I just focus on protecting my precious cargo -- my family.”

“Awww,” my wife said sincerely. “That’s sweet.”

“So I watch how bad other drivers are driving,” I continued, “and I predict what stupid moves they’ll make. That way I avoid accidents they’re sure to cause.”

“See,” my wife said, “you ruin what you said about your precious cargo with arrogance.”

“Yeah,” my son said, “you’re still being cocky.”

“You’re not such a perfect driver,” my wife said to me.

“Yeah, Daddy,” my son added. “You’re not so perfect.”

“You’re right,” I said, “I made the mistake of getting on the road with these terrible drivers.”

“I bet you can’t finish this drive without complaining about other drivers,” my wife proposed.

“What would be the point of that?” I asked.

“The point,” she said, “is that every time we get in the car, you complain about how everyone is driving. It gets old.”

“Yeah, Daddy,” my son said. “You’re just cocky every time we get in the car.”

“If I took on this challenge,” I said, “your watching would make me make a mistake.”

“Then you’re not perfect,” my wife said.

“Yeah, Daddy,” my son said. “Then you’re not perfect.”

So I agreed to take the challenge.

Right away, I got in a line of traffic to merge onto another freeway. And I waited. Other drivers passed everyone in the back of the line and cut into the front. And my wife called me arrogant. Why were these motorists more important than everyone else in line? Of course, I couldn’t complain or I’d lose my wife’s little challenge. I made a face. My wife knew what I was thinking.

“Careful,” she warned me.

“Yeah, Daddy,” my son said. “Careful.”

As I inched closer to the merge, line cutters got closer to cutting me off directly. And then it happened: A lady in her Lexus must’ve thought she was more important than I was in my Ford and, without a signal, cut right in front of me. Then a man in a BMW with an “In Loving Memory” painting on his back window thought he was more important than Lexus Lady and nearly pushed her into a ravine, wedging his way in front of her. Lexus Lady slammed on her horn, waved her hands in the air, apparently screaming as if "In Loving Memory" Man tried to take her young. Didn’t she just cut me off the way he cut her off?
Again, I couldn’t complain. And I didn’t.

And I didn’t make any mistakes while driving. I’d soon prove my wife and son wrong.

Then I nearly rear-ended someone. I hit the brakes, slid into the next lane, almost sideswiped a truck. My wife and kid tried to plant their feet into the asphalt through the floorboard of the car.

“What are you doing?” my wife yelled. “You almost hit that car. Didn’t you see him brake? You almost got us killed . . .”

“I’m glad you’re upset,” I said, interrupting her tirade. “I’m glad you recognize bad driving and I’m glad you’re speaking out about it. Now you see why I do it.”

“So you almost got into an accident just to prove a point?” my wife asked me. “You almost got us killed just so you can be right?”

“Skid again, Daddy,” my son said with a huge smile. “You might be cocky, Daddy, but you are the best driver in the world.”

I could’ve let my family believe that I purposefully almost got into an accident to prove a point. I could’ve let them believe that I never take my mind off the road, that I was, in fact, a perfect driver -- the best in the world, as my son said. I could’ve easily done all that to fool my wife and kid.

And I did.

-October 2010

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