Urban jungle

Do you know where you fit on the highway food chain? Were you even aware it exists? My father always used to joke about New England drivers, saying “when you’re on Rt 128, making eye contact is a sign of weakness. They’ll have you for lunch.”

I think I’ve written about this before, but I’m not sure I’ve properly accounted for my place in the traffic circle of life. Admittedly, this is a touchy subject right now, but I figure it’s never a bad time to make fun of myself.

Somewhere in this deep, dark (and somewhat empty) depository most of you call your brain (I alternate between various, unflattering pet names), I know I’m not the best driver in the world. However, my enviable driving record (according to state and local records) and a natural tendency to find fault with the other guy first, gives me an inflated sense of self worth (in this very limited context). In short, I fancy myself quite the driving stud – something I feel you’re entitled to just for driving a stick.

That said, I had a kind of anti-epiphany this morning on the drive to work. I was desperate for a lane change and running a little late; but remarkably, the beast (my driving alter-ego) left me ever so slightly self aware. I realized I was looking for a weak member of the herd. In that moment I realized I was not the benevolent driver I aspired to be – or sticking with the ecology metaphor – the large, harmless herbivore of the road. I was on the hunt, a predator looking for a meal.

I saw it in the form of a license plate advertising a community called “On Top Of The World.” For those of you not familiar with the Tampa Bay area, On Top of the World is a large retirement development that helped make the area “God’s waiting room” in the ’70s and ’80s. It was an elderly driver behind me in the other lane, but it might as well have been blood in the water.

While that small part of me still rational recoiled, the beast said “it’s good thing I skipped breakfast.”

Give the gift of words.