Wednesday, November 3, 2010

predicaments of people persons

Sometimes when I'm driving by myself, I make friends with other drivers to lessen my loneliness. I pick a car to caravan with and pretend that it shares in mutual companionship. Sometimes I name it.

Today I passed a purple semi and it tooted a few abrupt honks at me. This is not the first time I have been honked at by a semi. It happens at least once a road trip. I can never understand why. Is my tire flat? Is my gas lid indecent? Is there a tuxedoed man clinging to the roof of my car? I assume that must be it, because only truck drivers from their perched altitude could have such a clear view of the top of my car, right? It certainly cannot be that they're honking at me flirtatiously, because today as I sat in my Camry listening to Michael Buble in my plaid pajamas and with my stuffed bear sitting on my lap, I'm pretty sure I did not give off the "hey, I'm flirty" vibe.

I realized about 45 minutes later, however, that that purple semi was still in my rearview mirror. I had faithfully employed cruise control the entire time, so my speed never left 75, but the purple semi, whom I decided to name Grape, was fluctuating in speed. He came up beside me and passed in front of me. I didn't mind, since I was lonely and Michael Buble ONLY sings about being in love. (I think "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You" is a horrible concept.)

However, Grape's speed remained inconsistent, and I eventually pulled out to pass him again. Again, he honked. Okay. What's the deal? Is there toilet paper sticking out of my tailpipe? He couldn't possibly see into my car from his height, and think that I'm an attractive lass. Maybe he's lonely, too, I thought, and recognizes that we're in a caravan! I've never had another car actually acknowledge our automotive symbiosis. This was so special.

I had just drunk 3/4 of a tall Starbucks's Thanksgiving blend, and my bladder was ripe. But if I got off to pee, I wouldn't be driving with Grape anymore. Mom called, and I asked her if semi trucks ever honked randomly at her. She said no, that she had never been honked at by a semi. I still thought innocently that Grape was just honking in communion, when he drove up on my left to pass me. I looked over and he waved at me in an odd way, wiggling his fingers as if he was telling me to fall behind. I pretended it was a friendly wave and hung up with my mom.

I am incredibly ignorant and this is all very embarrassing. I am going to die at a very, very young age, unless I stop believing that everyone sees life as innocent frolics through meadows of daffodils, like I do.

Well, the lanes widened into 3, and Grape pulled up with a lane in between us, so that when I looked over at him, he said something (I can't read lips, bucko), and motioned backwards with his thumb. I, in confusion, and to myself, said, "What?" Then a truck sidled up in between us, and I pretended that I tragically got swept away in traffic, separating us after over an hour of driving together. Really I stepped on the gas and maneuvered through cars in an attempt to get very, very far away. Then my brother called, who had apparently been told by my mother that I'd made a friend with a trucker.

"Actually, he tried to talk to me, so I drove away," I explained. I could still see him in my rearview mirror, several cars behind me.
"Yeah. Have you ever seen Joy Ride?" Brandon said. "The trucker tracks him down--"
"But his truck is purple." Nothing associated with purple could be threatening! Barnie, Asbury University, eggplant....
"--and he rips off his jaw."
The tips of my eyebrows had met in the center of my forehead. "Now I'm scared."
"He seemed friendly!"
"They all do."

Fear had heightened my need to pee, but I was terrified of getting off at an exit with Grape still in sight. I seriously thought about whether I could drive the remaining 2 1/2 hours home in a wet seat, if I just peed where I sat. I would rather have to buy an entirely new car because it smelled like urinated Thanksgiving blend than to die.

I kept driving, and eventually I lost sight of Grape. He was long gone, as far as I could tell, and I got off at a stop to use the bathroom, scanning lines of semi trucks to make sure Grape wasn't one of them. I drove home thinking a few things. 1.) What kind of desperate person tries to hook up with a random person on the highway, from two different vehicles? (It gives a whole new meaning to speed dating. ha, I just came up with that.) 2.) What kind of naive person thinks that when a trucker honks at her, he's simply delighted to have a driving buddy? 3.) There is a time and a place for friendliness, imagination, and child-like faith in the human race. It is not while driving alone through Chicago next to a semi truck driven by a strange man.


Irene said...

Heather. This exact same thing happened to me when I was driving to your house. I made my escape by abruptly taking an exit. Then I walked around my car to see what on earth was wrong with it that was making him honk at me. Nada.

It must be a Wisconsin trucker thing. Weird.

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