Imagine it’s Friday evening and you’re driving home in your brand new, red Audi after a long week at work.
You haven’t slept well because you’ve been stressed about [FILL IN THE BLANK: That project? Your irritable innards? Inflation?].
You’re tired. Irritable. Looking forward to stretching out on the couch and tucking into a bowl of [FILL IN THE BLANK: Popcorn? Ice cream? Moussaka?].
But traffic has been slow, and everyone is driving the way everyone does when you’re in an irritable mood. You realize that you didn’t have nearly enough to eat today, and are starting to feel loopy.
You curse yourself for only ordering a Caesar Salad with Chicken in order to impress your co-workers with your dietary discipline.
And you question if maybe it was a bit over the top to insist on jogging back to the office after lunch “in order to work off the Caesar salad dressing.” You admit to yourself that sometimes your need to be special makes you act like a pretentious fop.
But everyone really is driving like they hate you. You don’t want to admit it, but for a moment, you wonder if the Universe itself has been set in motion against your efforts to return home. And you, of all people. In your new red Audi.
Finally, finally, finally you are just a few traffic lights from the freeway, where you know you’ll enjoy light traffic.
But just as you let down your guard, you notice that the car in front of you is… is… is… The act is so against the idea of living in a society, much less good taste and manners, that you almost can’t bring yourself to utter the words.
The driver of the car in front of you, while sitting at the light, has activated their windshield wipers and is drenching the area with cleaning solution.
Some of it, less than a deluge but more than a light mist, lands on your windshield.
You are apoplectic with rage. You can’t believe how poorly and disrespectfully you’ve just been treated. Sure, you’ve been treated poorly in the past, but not like this. You remember that just this afternoon your work colleagues voted you “Least Likely to Get Promoted” in an informal survey.
But being submerged in cleaning solution by a stranger is too much even for you.
“I’ll give you something to wipe!” you shout through your windshield at the bully spraying all over your new red Audi.
When the light goes green, you careen around the offending vehicle and almost take out three pedestrians, a service dog, and an unoccupied but mobile wheelchair.
“How’d that get there?” you ask yourself, fascinated by the wheelchair.
But you slip back into rage when you remember that you were just the victim of a spray crime.
“I can’t let this go on. There comes a time when every person, no matter how downtrodden, no matter how hard of luck, needs to take a stand for what’s right, no matter the consequences.”
You practically rip your turn signal off the steering column as you try to blast the offending driver with wiper fluid.
“There!” you shout at your rear view mirror in triumph. “I have made the Universe right again. I’ve put things in their place, and balanced the cosmic scales of justice. Good thing I have such a strong sense of proportion.”
Now you know you can rest easy this Friday night, knowing you’ve fought hard in all the important battles.
And, you remind yourself, no matter what anyone says, you’re not a petty person.
Credit for this story goes to my buddy Jacqui L., who apparently goes around spraying everyone she sees with wiper fluid. She’s the vehicular version of one of those perfume-carrying greeters in an upscale department store who insist on dousing all customers within a mile of the entrance.
And to the driver of the new red Audi… good luck on your fourth marriage.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more dysfunction!