Last Thursday. Forecast—bad. Mood—sour. Level of angst and general hostility—great. A rare enough state for me. Thankfully though, it’s a condition that can easily be remedied by a cheeseburger and an order of onion rings, heavy on the grease.
So that’s what I do after work. And since I’m a giving sort of fella, I grab some nasty, artery-clogging food for my family, too.
There is only one more obstacle for me to overcome, and that is getting out of the parking lot. At ten in the morning or one in the afternoon, this would not be a problem. But it’s almost 5:00 now, which means I’m smack in the middle of what passes for rush hour around here.
The majority of the traffic is flowing from my right to my left, out of town. Where I need to go. Traffic from my left to my right into town is sparse, almost negligible. And since there is no turning lane, I can’t sneak out. I’m stuck.
The lady who pulls alongside to my right, however, is not. She’s heading the opposite direction into town.
The problem is she can’t see. Her car is one of those tiny little things that seem to run on a mixture of electricity and the hippie vibrations of Mother Earth. It looks like a roller skate. I, on the other hand, drive a massive, thumb-your-nose-at-the-energy-crisis SUV. She can’t turn right because she can’t see the traffic, which is the exact opposite reason why I can’t turn left. We’re both stuck.
If there is one remedy for a bad mood that outperforms a cheeseburger and an order of onion rings, it’s doing a good deed. I look to my left to make sure there is no oncoming traffic, then look to her.
Go, I wave.
She stares at me.
I look again—go.
The woman inches out toward the edge of the road, craning her neck to look past my front bumper. She can’t see. She stops.
I check again. Still no traffic.
She shakes her head—No.
I look to my right and see what seems to be five miles worth of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and motor homes. I’m going to be here a while. I look to my left again. Nothing.
The woman is still trying to inch her way past my bumper. The dance she does with her head to try and get an angle—any angle—to see is both strange and comical. She looks at me again.
I take my right hand and make the universal sign for her to roll her window down. She does.
“The road’s clear your way,” I tell her.
She smiles and says, “I’ll wait.”
“I promise, it’s clear.”
Another smile, and a “Thanks, but I’m okay.”
I check the traffic again. She’s still clear. I’m still not. The thought finally crosses my mind that I could back up and let her see for herself, but there’s a truck behind me.
“Why won’t you go?” I ask her.
“Because I don’t trust you,” she says.
“Why don’t you trust me?”
She shrugs. “Thanks, though!” she says, and then she tells me the conversation is over by rolling up her window.
I lean back in the driver’s seat and try to make sense of what’s just happened. Have I just been stereotyped? Profiled? Do I look untrustworthy? Was it my music (Trace Adkins) or my tattoo (sophisticated redneck)? I don’t know. All I know is that when I finally manage to pull out five minutes later, she takes off the same time I do.
Which I guess says something. It’s a lot easier to gain someone’s trust through your actions than your words.
That said, if you’re ever beside me and can’t see past my bumper, and if I happen to wave you on and say the way is clear, please go ahead and pull out onto the road.
You can trust me. I promise.