There is little more sobering than a close call. If it weren’t for the anecdotal driving stories I was told back in college, and fast reflexes, life would have been drastically different for me a few months ago. What ended up happening was the adrenaline-junkie drove off in a red car with California plates, his adrenaline high briefly reinvigorated, after slamming on his breaks from speeds about 30 miles per hour to intentionally crash my car.
I wasn’t always a safe driver.
Maybe it’s that reckless spirit enabling me to throw myself without hesitation into a lifestyle where I write as much as I can for the slim possibility of something more, refined through my raging teens and roaring 20s, that isn’t quite content with a plain and simple life. For the most part, that recklessness died off along when I went sober. It all feeds into each other. I don’t have the full spectrum of experience, so I can’t comment on the complexity of this, but adrenaline rushes make me feel invincible. I can see why fast cars are such a thrill.
Let’s return to that morning.
Innocent little game. The red car came up behind me fast as I was entering the highway. People do this occasionally. He tried to cut me off, I blocked him, but he figured out a way around me, passed me, and then did his trick. It took all the calm I had to not chase after him and drive some heavy object through the window. I can clearly remember his psychotic laugh, or maybe, I’ve distorted those anger-tinged memories? I arrived at work with just a little more stress than normal. The longer you’re in that state, the worse it is for everyone.
Let’s return to those stories.
I once picked up part-time work moving furniture. My nickname was “Soc-ro.” It was fun! I met some wild characters and developed some of my self-discipline there. One afternoon at the warehouse, one of the guys was telling us a cautionary tale about how some drivers would run a racket where they’d cut off semi-trucks, slam on their breaks, and collect insurance money. This was before dash-cams kept everyone honest. We were told this was especially a problem in California and that drivers in Washington were more polite.
I’m not a fan of broad generalizations or things “happening for a reason.” Even if this problem were to only exist in one part of the world, it’s unfair to let one person cloud judgment for every person, just as it wasn’t like I had a flashback to that very moment right as that license plate came barreling toward me. Or me to it. It’s just context that helped me realize that, yes, I should be more careful on the road, and no, it’s not good to drive angry. Don’t let that adrenaline take control of you as it did that man.
I’ve been safer on the roads since.
No excitement is worth dying over.
|Sources: My personal experiences.
Enough time has passed where I can talk about this without feeling like it will cloud people’s perception of my driving abilities. Full disclosure: I’ve never had any marks on my driving record and I’ve only been pulled over once… for running a yellow light while blasting Led Zeppelin.
|Inspirations: Conversations and this reddit thread.|
|Pictures: Quick drawing of a road with two random Hot Wheels cars. I exaggerated the visual since I couldn’t convey speed, motion, and the sudden braking maneuver.|
|Written On: May 23rd, 26th|
|Last Edited: May 26th|