Friday, May 15, 2015

Road Rage In Reverse

Road Rage In Reverse

The other day, I was out just driving around.

Ever do that?

You know, your place is a mess, the dishes haven't been done for two days or more, your bed looks like a troop of monkeys have been doing flips, dips, and all sorts of unspeakable things in it, and most of your wardrobe is in piles here, there and everywhere. Sure, you should take better care of of your life, maybe at least pick up a little, but instead you simply head out and spend the day driving around, driving around.

After all, there's something very therapeutic about just getting out of your place. Too often, "inside" is far to static, far too unchanging. A mess is a mess no matter how you choose to see it.

"Outside" is ever-changing. The streets, the trees, the weather, the kids playing, the folks by the bus shelter ... always different somehow, and that kind of constant transformation changes how you see the world, if only in small ways. Sometimes, external perception trumps that recurring introspective view of your life. It's just good to get out of your head once in a while.

So there I was, driving around and driving around. I drove past the mall, down an unfamiliar street, skipped by the Dairy Queen, and onto a rather busy throughway.

And that's when the most peculiar thing happened.

I was stopped at a red light, when the driver in the car next to me started honking and honking his horn. I looked over with my best WTF? look, and there was some old, bearded, long-haired guy with a look of lunacy in his eyes making motions for me to roll down my passenger side window.

For a brief few seconds, I considered the situation. I mean, I didn't remember cutting this particular car off in one of my patented, "get-outta-my-way" lane changes. I couldn't, for the life of me, remember knowing this idiot with the horn from any of my life experiences. And the way things are these days, I couldn't be sure that he was trying to get me to roll down my window so that he could take a shot at me, literally or metaphorically.

Nevertheless, my curiosity was aroused, so I did indeed roll down the side window and braced myself for the worst.

When the window was almost completely down, he cracked a huge smile of half-rotten teeth and shouted at me.

"Jesus loves you, brother," he bellowed, "Jesus loves you. Bless you, brother."

My expression must have slipped into something like that confused emoticon with its tongue hanging out. I had no idea how to respond.

Now, I can't say that I'm a religious guy, despite all my Catholic holy-roller upbringing. In a pinch, however, I'll take a free blessing whenever and wherever I can get it. After all, I figure what the heck? A blessing here and there, and before you know it, you have a pocket full of them. Sort of like Air Miles ... they add up, and someday you might actually use them.

I did want to acknowledge this guy, you know, say something back. But how does one reply? Do you say, "Thanks, buddy!"? Do you make the sign of the cross from forehead to chest and shoulder to shoulder? Do you flash him a peace sign with your two fingers raised to the heavens? Do you give him the thumbs up sign, like it was a post on your Facebook wall? Just what do you do?

I followed my first instinct, made a fist, and gave him the black power salute. That might not have been a great idea. You see, I'm not black, not African-American nor African-Canadian, and I suspect the guy completely misinterpreted my intention. He must have thought that I was shaking my fist at him, and his blessing suddenly turned into a "Fuck you, buddy!" with the typical one-finger salute most commonly associated with that expression.

Quite honestly, I was suddenly overcome with a sense of relief. Now, this is what one really expects in the middle of a busy traffic situation. This was something I could deal with much more easily.

I laughed as I returned his salute, with a few hand pumps to emphasise the point, and when the light turned green, I felt a sudden calm wash over me like a refreshing splash of holy water from a baptismal fount.

The world had righted itself into the unseemingly backdrop that we have all come to know and, if not love, at least respect. I was, once again, at peace with the cosmos that I've come to understand, and content with the knowledge that everything in life is so transient, that life is sort of like driving around and driving around, until that final red light stops you forever. When that fateful day arrives, I guess you can only hope that there's some guy in a car next to you, some wacky zealot, shouting "Jesus loves you."



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