While driving to work this morning, I got honked at. I could have predicted it. I’m cruising in the middle lane, speed limit of 45, and my right turn was coming up in about a quarter of a mile. No music playing, no checking my phone; it’s just me, the road, and normal morning traffic conditions. I’m aware of the red two-door in the right lane, about two car lengths behind. I put my blinker on, giving it a second or two, and look over my right shoulder to start my slide. Nope. The red bastard behind me decided to speed up, limiting my ability to transfer lanes safely. I hate these kinds of drivers.
The space between us has been shortened, albeit in another lane, I’m still needing to merge right. If I had the Gadgetmobile, my boxing glove would have easily settled this score. Fortunately I drive a car that is less desirable than most, which gives me the kamikaze type of attitude. Just do it. Sorry buddy but if you want your car to continue to be nicer than mine, back off, I’m moving in. The inevitability of would happen next didn’t surprise me.
I finally turn my blinker off and he skips into the center lane, speeding up to pass me. I pretend to listen to my favorite song, smiling and mouthing lyrics of nothing, while focusing on the road. This is a much better way to handle road rage. My peripherals see his head turn in anger so I continue on with my oblivion. I would have bet money that he’d cut me off but he didn’t. He stayed in the center lane, drifting up further and further until my right turn came about, and then he was gone. I made it to my coffee destination, safe and sound. I park, not being a big fan of drive-thru, and walk inside.
A Starbucks employee has rang up my Venti Black Eye before I get to the counter. I’m the only one in line. While another is preparing the two espresso shots, an employee friend named Eric says, “What’s up Jon,” while walking by. It feels good to be welcomed. “Venti Black Eye for Jon,” and I’m out, two minutes tops. I take a sip and walk to my car. I drive around the building to the exit and notice a line of cars in the drive-thru. There had to be at least 12 of them. As I pass each one, and watch another drive over a curb to remove thee self from thee madness, I wonder about all this mindlessness. For the rest of my car ride, I start thinking of the things I do out of habit, without thought or consciousness. If anything, I’m as guilty as all.
One thought was that I brushed my teeth with my right hand again this morning. I always do. It’s easier I guess, but I could imagine my brain working harder (or waking up differently) if I was to use my left. Another thought was showering. I wash my hair, my face, my chest, my armpits, my you-know-what, my grosser-than-that, my legs, and my feet, in that order. Oh, and I wash the half of my back I can reach. Then I thought about driving to work, and the same exact route I take every single morning. I have this whole world of opportunity and I spend the beginning of every day doing the same damn things.
That’s going to change. I will do my best by brushing my teeth with my left hand, even though it’s likely my breath might not be as wintery fresh. When I start my car, I will think of the alternate routes that I could take. When I shower, I’m going to wash my feet first and my hair last, except I’ll always wash my face before my crack. I’m not chancing poop on my face. That’s just gross.
Small changes lead to bigger ones, so even though it might be my mundane morning routine, I’ll find new people, new conversations, and new opportunities. I’ll be more observant of my environments, look at the multitude of options, and start doing things my way, not the most common way. I’ll be more creative in finding resolution. I’ll be more open to suggestions and listen intently without thinking of what I’m going to say before the other person finishes speaking. I’ll travel again to new places, even if it’s just to a new Starbucks that morning.
In retrospect, I have to thank the idiotic driver and the 12 or so people who like to wait in the drive-thru longer than it would take to go inside. They help me realize it’s easy to fall back in mindless behavior. It’s because of these people that remind me of the one shot we get at this life and how we choose to spend it. The spirit I had in high school had nothing to do with the mascot, pep rallies or our ability to win football games. That spirit, my spirit, had everything to do with love and life and happiness. Just because I’m a 30something single dad doesn’t mean I need to stop living. I have a feeling, so long as I continue observing myself and the environment, that my life is just getting started. And I’ll be damn sure, just as I was about being honked at, that my life will never be that predictable.
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