Saturday, July 22, 2006


The vanpool. I have been breaking rules and getting stuff DONE. Steve Bawls possesses my driving soul. It has been an eventful week. Read on, gentle one...

Every day there is a red light in Fort Ord that won't let me turn right and merge with traffic. Every day, I run that stuff. Every day when I run it, I look in the rear-view mirror and say, "Sorry Gloria." Gloria always shakes her head in disgust. After literally months of this stale joke, on Tuesday, Gloria finally countered it with, "I don't know why you always apologize to me, you are just going to do it again."


Gloria is probably in her late 50s. She is a lot of fun. I have nothing but respect for the woman. I know that she is mildly shaken by how I handle the vanpool van, but she comes back month after month with her monthly pass, so something must be working. She does this thing after a particularly brutal ride home where she says, "I will NOT be riding tomorrow." Emphasis on NOT. Whenever she says this, the implication is that she just can't take my driving anymore. She plays into it. I always apologize. I always say that Venkat could drive the next day, if that is what she wants. Then she clarifies and says that she has to go to the doctor, or take her car in or some such trash. It is a fun little exchange.

There is a woman with a cane who smokes out in front of our building every day. Her voice reminds me of Burgess Meredith as the Penguin in the old Batman show. She's got a shock on blonde hair that is very Beatlesque. Well, we were bombing through Fort Ord the other day and suddenly, I realized that I was neck in neck with this mop-top woman in a 25 MPH zone. She was in the slow lane, and I was taking her down from the fast lane...if such things exist in a 25 mph zone. She felt my overtake, and started to push. I hate it when people do that, so I pushed back. She must have been doing 35, and I bounced it up to 45 to take her, and I held pole position for the rest of Fort Ord. She took me out at Blanco, but I just don't have the get up and go in that van; or I woulda left her sideways in my dust.


She comes up to me the next day, cigarette in one hand, cane in the other and asks me who will pay for the speeding tickets the vanpool will get if I keep on driving like that. I told her I would. For real. None of her damn business who is going to pay for the ticket. I sort of cocked an eyebrow at her, because she wasn't without sin on the subject. I'll betcha if I swipe and pawn her cane, I can have a little trust fund set up for my inevitable speeding ticket. I have to make a skull note of this, because I really like the logic behind it. Internally though, I dismissed the whole thing. Her halitosis interrogation was beneath me. Apparently, crutch-smoker went to other people in the vanpool asking them about my driving. For an old little gimpy chimney, that woman got around. But perhaps she is an angel (albeit a crippled, bowl-cut one), because the next bit of this blog will show you that I really need to get my act together on the subject of driving.

Yesterday morning, I ran a red light in the morning, POINT BLANK. It said "NO U-TURN" and the light was red, but through traffic was green. Well, I wheeled my big ass around that corner and had to slap it into reverse a bit before I could make the turn.

"PETER! YOU JUST RAN A RED LIGHT!" Smitha said. I must qualify Smitha as one of our newer riders and not ready for the real.

"Yes, I did, but technically it was green, except I wasn't supposed to make the U-turn." was my response.

To my logic, that U-turn had to be made, and it was better to make it on a red light than on a green light when people making left-hand turns behind me would have to spike their brakes as I backed my big ass up.

I made the point with Smitha that overall I am a very good driver. She countered with the sarcastic view that even though I run red lights and drive twenty miles over the speed limit on a regular basis, she felt basically safe with me.


I told Smitha that she should feel good about it all because if I wreck, she will die. She wouldn't be one of those poor wives or mothers that have third degree burns and missing appendages. Her husband wouldn't have to cry himself to sleep at night because his once beautiful wife was now ugly. Her child wouldn't have to recoil in sheer revulsion of his own mother's visage at every hospital visit. Smitha laughed. She pondered the fact that she might not die in this inevitable car accident.

Then I added the juice to it all. I told her that I was committed to crawling back to the back of the van if we were in a fiery wreck and finishing her off with a tire iron. I told her that I wouldn't damage her face, I would aim for the back of the head. Painless and quick.

I got my laugh.

I also drove under the speed limit for the rest of the trip in.