It was some tiny, rinky-dink 4-cylinder piece of shit – a Ford Focus, I think – and it was drizzling outside so there was a reason for safe driving but not like clockwork-slow in the passing lane at noon, puttering far below the speed limit. But I could tell what the driver was doing. Some knucklehead had merged onto the interstate doing 55 when the limit was 65 and in the quarter-mile stretch for entering the highway, that driver hadn’t pulled his thumb out of his ass to accelerate a single MPH. Me and the Focus saw it and knew it was gonna take that nitwit a while to get up to speed – literally – so the Focus went into the passing lane since she musta been doing 56.
I saw all this bullshit coming so I followed the Focus into the passing lane. I was only doing the speed limit but, now in the middle lane too, was fast approaching the dawdling economy sedan. So I jumped into the third lane to pass it, noticing its bumper sticker as I sped by. The sticker read: My BOSS is a Jewish Carpenter.
I passed and scowled at the driver. The little woman must have been about sixty, grey (not silver or platinum) haired and driving as if she was smelling something on the steering wheel.
Can’t driver worth a shit, I thought. If it takes five minutes to pass, then you’re not passing, dumbass.
I knew that in thinking that, if her BOSS was my BOSS, either he or I (however his relation to my conscience and consciousness would work) would tell me/myself that she’s old, so I shouldn’t judge. But her BOSS isn’t my BOSS so I reflected for the next fractions of a mile about the people I work with or otherwise know – folks who are roughly her age and how most are pretty smart and pretty sharp and with-it. And I thought about a few of the younger ones who are slow and dumb as shit. I convinced myself then and there that age usually isn’t the primary factor in acting like or truly knowing what the hell you’re doing.
I passed and took the next exit off the interstate. At the end of the ramp, I hit the red light, waiting to turn left. The little women pulled up beside me, in the lane for turning right. I looked over. Her steering wheel was still in her face. As she made her right turn on red, I thought, I wish your BOSS would tell you how to fucking drive. Then my BOSS said maybe I’m an asshole for being so intolerant and I accepted that he might be right.
The light changed. I turned left and drove across the overpass, just to get stuck at another light. The cars stuck at the end of their exit ramp got the light to make their turns.
Before the commercial for Cheek’s Gentleman’s Club, the radio had played Journey’s Wheel in the Sky. After the break, it was Who’s Crying Now because it was 2-Fer Tuesday at the station. I wanted to sing along but I was stuck at that light. I didn’t wanna be seen singing. For some reason, I want, almost need to hate Journey for their lovey-dovey bullshit but I can’t. It’s just too catchy so sometimes you just gotta accept things as and for what they are.
I sat there constrained, with emotions smothered inside their bodily husk. I swelled inside to Steve Perry’s coral rapture. I longed to sing with clenched fists held to my chest.
And I listened. I really listened. For once, I took in more than just the chorus.
So many stormy nights, so many wrong or rights. Neither could change their headstrong ways.
We aren’t always prepared for the moments of awakening that are cosmically sprung upon us. I sat there absorbing the tender lyrics of lovelorn hearts. I accepted that I wasn’t just Slayer’s malice and Ted Nugent’s carnality. I was Steve Perry’s tenderness as well. With the wipers smearing the windshield, I accepted that I’m more than the teenage angst and rebellion that defined me decades ago.
That’s when I began questioning my BOSS. I thought that maybe he was the asshole who just liked making me feel bad for his own sadistic pleasure. Or maybe he is a bit less malicious than that. Maybe he just enjoys keeping me confused. I decided that might be true and maybe my BOSS is the true dumbass because we need to make judgments. We must try to understand, not just blindly accept things. Life without discernment and critical analysis is an idiot’s existence. Discerning who’s a liar or fool or maniac and keeping your distance is an invaluable life skill, so fuck my BOSS and probably fuck that little old lady’s BOSS too for leading me to think that the pinnacle of enlightenment is knowing him rather than one another – knowing you and me and what makes you believe in that BOSS and somebody else believe in another one or none.
Before I got to my job, there were more lights and more turns and more songs. And that’s how I waged another skirmish in the 3-way war of attrition between her BOSS, myself and my BOSS while sitting at traffic lights on a dreary, drizzly Tuesday – just trying to get to work in one piece and on time.