Dear frizzy hair blonde lady in the ‘cute’ little Nissan that just cut me and my daughter off to get on the interstate on-ramp and drive slow, I’m honking at you to stay sane.
Technically, I honked twice, so that is actually honking. I realize that each honk lasted about 10 seconds and in honking time, ten seconds of honking is the equivalent of 3 years as anyone sleeping outside a parking lot or crowded street will tell you. Ten seconds of honking, when the honker is honking at you from twenty feet behind your bumper, can arguably approach 4 or 5 years as Einstein’s math predicts that time slows down when an object is increasing its speed towards the speed of light and honking at the same time.
They were long honks. They were excessive honks. You deserved every year of those honks. Those honks were not for you. Those honks were for me. Thank you for witnessing my excessive honking. Based on your subsequent driving response, I suspect you will drive more calmly for the rest of your ride to work three miles away.
Personally, I calmed down about tenfold after I finished the second honk. I really needed that honking exhale.
You see, I started my day after working until about 12:30 last night. I woke up 6 hours later(might be enough for you, not enough sleep for me).
I needed to ensure that my daughters woke up, took their medicine, fed and dressed themselves and more.
This is not a big deal for many parents or kids. It is sort of a big deal for one of my daughters, who has some extra challenges. I’ll not delve into those at the moment, but let’s just say that today was not an easy morning.
Like many children, my youngest did not want to go to school today. She did not want to get out of bed today.
Unlike me, she had enjoyed about 10 hours of sleep the night before after making it to bed right at her bed time.
She had a good supper, took a bath and even laid out her clothes and book bag in preparation for school Monday morning. She didn’t even watch the second ‘Presidential’ Debate last night with the scary clown lurking behind the lady running for President.
With all of those preparations in advance, she wasn’t feeling it.
As is her way sometimes, when she is not feeling it, she makes everyone in the household and maybe this morning half the people in the apartment complex including the two year old next door and the Olympic pole vaulters that practice their sport upstairs from us when they are not arguing with each other.
Note to self, start a kickstarter program for my pole vaulting neighbors to help them purchase big, soft, fluffy mat to land on which should spare them broken bones and deaden the bangs and thuds on my ceiling at midnight.
This morning, my youngest slowly built into a full on tantrum. It started slow and almost easy, as she first refused to get out of bed, then refused to get dressed, then got dressed and snuck back into bed.
I gave her some space and let her have an extra few minutes of rest. I made her breakfast and packed it into a sandwich bag so that she could eat it in the car as we drove through and against the flow of the ugliest traffic in the county on the way to her school.
Five minutes before it was time to go, I (still calm myself) encouraged her to get out of bed one more time and put her socks and shoes on. This was the request that tipped the iceberg too far.
The iceberg rolled over with a roar and prompted a crying, whining tidal wave of a tantrum, “I don’t want to go to school today!”
I tried every gadget in my batman belt to head this off at the pass and get her socks and shoes on. Apparently, all those gadgets came out of the same factory as the Samsung Galaxy 7. They all stopped working, heated up and began to sizzle away to nothing.
There is a time point, a point of no return, when we absolutely have to be out the door, in the car and driving down the road. If we miss this time point by 60 seconds, it adds 15 minutes to the drive in terms of getting caught in school traffic from the two private religious schools that are closer but were built as an after thought with no zoning or planning in the streets surrounding them.
We were at that time point of no return.
So my daughter and I walked out to the car with her breakfast and shoes and socks in hand as opposed to the latter being on her feet.
This really felt like one of the first days of fall. The temperature was 46 degrees. The concrete steps and sidewalk were dry after a day of wind cleared away the last of the moisture from Hurricane Mathew. It was chilly.
I have walked barefoot through snow, slush and even fallen through the ice into a lake at the age of 5 going to school myself, the long way on a detour to play on the ice when I should have been at the bus stop. My bare feet know what cold feels like.
This was not that cold.
But the neighbors almost definitely did not realize this based on the piercing screams of my daughter. She let it be known that it was too cold to walk thirty feet to the car.
She made it just fine.
Cold sidewalks on barefeet are probably not the best thing for a child that suffers from anxiety among other things. These were the consequences of her own behavior and choices this morning and I had no other options. My own hands were full with her things. If she had not actually made the brave trek across clean cement, I probably would have walked back and carried her from the carpeted door step, after depositing her stuff in the car.
She was a (screaming) trooper and did just fine.
Not my proudest ‘Dad’ moment, but we do our best. I was actually happy about my own calm and compassion up to this point and for a little while beyond.
We proceeded to drive down the road. As is our norm, I turned on The Best of Abba for the 221st time. We listened to “If you change your mind on the first ten lines…” as we drove down the road towards school.
As you can imagine all too clearly, I looked exactly like Bill Murray driving an old red pickup truck towards a cliff with a kidnapped ground hog sitting in my lap steering the truck. I had been here before. I knew I would be here again. The groundhog, as some theories persist, knew it as well and was laughing at me.
Mya was intermittently crying and screaming at me through the lyrics that she normally sings along too.
“Take a chance, Take a chance, Take a chance…”
We just managed to dodge the dangerous 10 minute sticking point on the road before the second school. I drove (5 miles per hour) through a yellow light to miss the first SUV that would create the line that would soon after stretch a mile behind me. I stopped in the middle of the three way intersection behind a White GMC SUV.
The Tale of the White GMC SUV
This SUV was somewhat important to my morning. We both inched along past the bar and the gym and the veterinary office and the business that sells sheds. The next light in front of us changed from green to red and back again three times before we made it through ourselves.
I drove calmly and patiently down to the next light behind this SUV. The White GMC SUV’s driver proceeded to leave a car and a half of length between it and the next car in front of it, blocking my access to the right turn lane through a very long light.
I didn’t realize it, but this must have been the straw that broke the frizzy blonde ladies back. She waited behind me as if I might convert my Ford Focus into a literal batmobile that could stretch out, elongate and allow me to squeeze between the White GMC SUV and the light post to my right.
I’m not really batman. I do not actually have a batmobile. That was just a movie. She was shit out of luck.
Apparently, so was I.
The light changed and the White GMC SUV paused.
Maybe the person in the SUV in front of me had not finished adding fourteen emojis to the text message they were composing. Maybe their Trump/Pence for President yard sign pile that they were taking back to the printer for a refund had shifted and punctured a leather seat and subsequently their right lung too, causing the driver of the White GMC SUV to temporarily pass out and not re-awaken immediately as the light turned green.
Maybe, the driver suffers from a type of flatulence that cannot escape the sphincter and instead travels through a type of methane osmosis, penetrating the arteries of the right leg, sending a bubble down the leg and to the right calve muscle forcing the leg to push on the brake peddle harder like a stinky cramp, until the person driving massages the bubble out of the leg muscle and lets the gas escape into the cabin of the SUV. This probably triggered a coughing fit followed by a seizure, complicated by the pierced lung from the yard sign. This snow balled into the delay and prevented them from driving through a green light like a normal person.
Believe me, I can empathize with them. Shit happens.
Finally, they left at two miles an hour. I inched past their passenger bumper and finally gave my car some gas to accelerate up the hill towards the next light. It promptly changed to red as soon as I got there.
The tale of the Frizzy Haired Blond Lady
The frizzy haired blond lady, I have no other name for her other than her description. She zoomed out to my left and drove halfway into the space normally reserved for people that might drive through the intersection in other directions. You know, the people that now had a green light unlike the Frizzy Haired Blond Lady.
Before our light turned green, she lurched forward again and stopped, as her anticipation of a green light was off by ten seconds.
Finally, the light turned green and we drove through. She was in a hurry.
She did not know this about me, but I was in a hurry too!
The extra delays of lights and White GMC SUVs had me almost running late. Mya was still crying about not wanting to go to school. We were on the third or fourth Abba song, the dreaded Momma Mia.
I can handle and even like a few Abba songs. Momma Mia is definitely not one of those, and of the 221 times we have listened to Abba on the way to school, Momma Mia has only been played about 33 times.
Today, in fact was 33 because, I was trying to make up lost time and get Mya to school on time so as to avoid having to park, walk her in, sign her in to school as is the punishment for parents that are running late and now have to slow down even more and run later.
So I was putting up with some extra seconds of Mamma Mia to focus on driving and saving the next few precious seconds. I only had to go about fifty meters to the on ramp to the interstate. I was accelerating, anticipating my speed, the cornering I would need to perform. Reviewing the yield sign that I might, no I could breeze through as oncoming traffic would not force me to stop for the fifty third time this morning.
Then Frizzy Haired Blonde Lady lurched in front of me with barely a foot to spare and slowed down by twenty miles per hour as her cute little Nissan does not sit as low to the ground as my Ford Focus, and probably doesn’t corner as well.
Many people, most adults especially, know that when someone cuts in front of your car and slows down, braking alone may not be enough to avoid an accident. Braking distance in these situations can only be decreased by pressing your hand or hands out and pushing on the horn, while simultaneously slamming on the brakes.
My Ford Focus has four wheel disc brakes. It was only myself and my youngest daughter in the vehicle. We were not hauling lumber, nor gold bullion, nor an extra thousand pounds of manure, which could have been handy to follow the Frizzy Haired Blond Lady to work, mark her parking spot, then drive Mya to school and return later to unload the manure on and around her cute little Nissan in some sort of passive aggressive dream come true.
No, I had no extra weight in the car. This was good!
It helped me slow down just enough to avoid rear ending her vehicle as lighter cars stop quicker. Still to be cautious I gave my car a braking assist by simultaneously pushing the brake peddle and pushing long and hard on the horn as I first mentioned at the start of this article.
I know, I know, honking does not really help the other driver most of the time. I suspect that if I had not honked the horn twice and for ten seconds at a time, (the second push was totally unnecessary to decrease my speed) … I suspect if I had not honked the horn, she might not have continued at her new speed of twenty miles per hour slower than I had been driving when she chose to cut me off.
She might have even used the on-ramp to ‘accelerate’ onto the interestate and match the speed of the other traffic at 50 mph in the slow right lane.
My self preservatory action of excessive horn deployment, probably encouraged her to drive slower.
In the moment, I did not realize that this was exactly what I needed. It was.
Sometimes in life, we need to slow down. In my haste to be on time and to get away from Momma Mia and maybe even to more rapidly deposit my crying child at school with the teachers and staff that never witness this behavior from her, I might have been speeding up when I thought that I could.
The universe served up the frizzy blonde lady to slow me down and in pushing my horn for 3-5 years at a time twice, it allowed me to vent.
As many of you may know that have read this far, I really needed to vent. This short little pensive of mine, is the remaining venting that I needed.
You see as I was driving, I was calm and reserved and exhibiting the patience of a saint as I encouraged Mya to put her socks on (while she cried and begged me not to take her to school).
I calmly encouraged her to finish this process so that she could then remove her breakfast from the ziplock back that was confounding the anxiety confounded hand and eye coordination that she has worked for over a decade to build through many hours of occupational therapy.
I was calm as I encouraged her to tie her tennis shoes, a skill that she has recently been able to utilize with some initial level of competence.
I calmly even reached back and grabbed one of the shoes from her that she was not able to slam on her own foot without having to untie it, and then untie it for her while I drove. Plus, I loosened the strings and handed it back to her while sitting behind the White GMC SUV, whose driver was trying to massage methane out of their right calve while blocking a green light in morning rush hour.
- I never yelled at Mya once.
- I never raised my voice.
- I never broke my resolve to turn around and drive her back home and give in either.
Inside, I needed an opportunity to honk my horn and when that nice bobble headed blond frizzy lady lost her patience with the traffic stopped at a green light and decided to take it out on the car ahead of her (ergo take it out on me), who was also the victim of a slower driver in front of them, I instinctively grasped, no slammed my hand against my horn and honked for all I was worth.
This was not the quiet horn of cars past. This was not the intermittent, doesn’t always function and actually honk horn of a Dodge Caravan of two vehicles past, a van that suffered from E.D., Electronic Dysfunction. No pill could fix that van’s horn!
No, this was the virile and very loud horn of a relatively young and spry 2014 Ford Focus built with a little extra masculinity for the driver who could not afford a Mustang nor its gas guzzling engine, but needed a bit of that sporty sleek power. This was a loud Monday Morning, Fuck You I have had enough of this shit Universe horn honk!
It had stamina and endurance and did not waver in its battle cry of “I have had enough of this SHITTTTT!!!”
It was that kind of honk.
I immediately felt better.
Mya thought we were going to die. “You almost killed me!” she yelled from the back seat finally paying attention to the world around her and not caught up in her anxiety of simply wanting to crawl back under the covers and get back to sleep again.
“No, I did not almost kill you. I just saved your life from the bad lady in front of us that just cut us off. You see Daddy was paying attention and avoided crashing into that bad car over there, despite the distractions you have been making by crying, yelling and screaming while I drive.”
I say this as I point Frizzy Haired Blond Lady’s car now in the right lane of the interstate. We have defensively taken the far left lane to keep as much distance from her as possible in case she is slamming a new clip into an Uzi or something to spray us and the rest of the interstate with her rage and embarrassment at knowingly driving like an asshole because she was too angry and late for work herself after flaming 232 Facebook threads during and after the debate last night and getting no sleep herself and then racing through the shower, blow drying her hair, maybe a little too hot and “Oh, shit! I can’t handle a frizzy hair day like this. There is no way in hell, I’m going to work with frizz like this. I haven’t had a bad hair day like this since my sixteenth birthday. Isn’t this just the fucking thing.
That asshole is not even close to being a suitable human being let alone President and now I have to go face all my sexist coworkers, whom I totally laid waste to with those memes last night, I have to face them with frizzy hair like this! Life IS NOT FAIR!!!!
Where is my Uzi!!!
I know I put that spair 50 round clip in the center console and now I can’t find it, AHA!
There it is, now where is that mother *&#er in that grey, sorry about your penis car with the black wheels who couldn’t squeeze past the asshole in the White GMC SUV. I’m going to show him a thing or two about honking at me….”
Yes, I have been trained in how to tactically drive away from the threat of gunfire and have done so in real life on more than one occasion.
We boogied on down the interstate calmly as the Blond Frizzy Haired Lady calmly and very slowly took the next exit, probably to get to work at the local hospital.
In fact, I drove about 10 mph slower than I normally do the rest of the way to Mya’s school. She stopped crying about going to school now that crying might interfere with Dad’s driving…
She did not give up on begging not to go to school. I was tempted to text her teacher and let her know that Mya was in almost full melt-down mode (no kicking and screaming, but it was a close thing at times). I was thinking about offering to come and pick my daughter up if necessary.
Instead, I slowly drove straight home. It was a calm drive. Traffic did not move fast, but it did not come to a complete halt either.
I feel a lot better. That horn helped restore my sanity today. That unfortunate bad, hair-day lady, helped as well. I am very grateful for her uninvited interjection in my life.
Time to get going and get back on track with my day.
Hope life’s interruptions and signals help pull you back towards your own path, sanity and safety too!
Update – Oh Shit!
So it is now 10:02 am and I get a text from Mya’s mother, who also teaches at the same school.
Her – ‘Is Mya here today?’
(thinking, oh shit, she went in the school and out another door)
Me – ‘I dropped her off and watched her walk into the school. Is she missing?’
Her – ‘I will check now’
(checking, imagines ex spouse calling on the intercom down to the office disrupting her own class to check on her daughter that her no good ex spouse took to school today…)
Her – ‘She is here’ ~ paraphrasing more – must have been slow getting to class
(me – imagining my daughter pacing the halls or hiding in the bathroom for an extra hour to calm down more herself, after all it took me, her dad, 3611 words and two long horn blasts to do the same!)