It’s a car smash car world out there

Driving in the city is a totally different experience. Parallel parking into spots one inch larger than your car, squeezing past double-parked delivery trucks, people darting between cars to cross in the middle of the street, merging across 3 lanes, construction, potholes the size of an elephant, you name it. You can’t be afraid to bull your way in there, sometimes using your car as a shield, sometimes using it as a weapon.

This is a long way to say that I put a 2 foot gouge in the side of my 1 year old car the other day. It was not pretty, my friends. I never really saw exactly what happened; all I know is I was late for ballet, there was a truck with its flashers on and traffic coming the other way, and I thought I could fit through. Ollie said there was a piece of metal sticking out on the side. It smashed my mirror (not broken!) and put a deep scratch across both doors.

A day in the life.

My point is, if you live in the city, you have to expect that your car is going to get a little dinged up. I don’t know how many times I’ve come back to find a ding in my door and no one around.

Whaddya gonna do?

So Sara was getting out of a tight parking spot the other day, and she maybe kinda-sorta backed up until she nudged the guy behind her. She was creeping backward, watching in the rearview, so it wasn’t a hit, more of a…gentle rocking. Let’s be honest, you’ve done it, I’ve done it.

Except this time, it turns out the guy was sitting in his car.

Super embarrassing. Sara could see the guy freaking out, gesturing wildly and yelling. So what are you going to do in that situation? You know there’s no mark on the cars, but you have to get out and look. Give your insurance information if he wants it, after all, you did technically hit his car.

So Sara gets out of the car, with this maniac still gesturing. “Is it all right?” she asked. “Oh,” said the man, poking his head out of the door. “I…thought you were a guy.”

Sara looked at him, and then they both got back in their cars. Sara proceeded to go back and forth until she was out of the spot, and then drove away.

So, what exactly does that mean?

What was this guy thinking? Is it okay to yell at guys, but not at girls? I mean, she’ll take it, because she didn’t want some dude screaming at her, but maybe you shouldn’t be screaming at anybody, you know? Is escalating a little, harmless bump into a fistfight on the street just bros being bros, but women are too fragile to take it? Or is it just okay for a woman to be a bad driver?

More importantly, if he’s so concerned about his car, and he’s sitting in his car watching this person going back and forth, back and forth, trying to get out of the spot, and he’s the last car in the row, why not just, you know, turn on the car and back up a foot or two?

I guess some guys are just spoiling for a fight.

But only with dudes.

See, this is why I like having a 2 foot long gash on the side of my car. If someone’s trying to merge in and I’m not letting them, or if *I’m* trying to merge in and they’re not letting *me*, I just lock eyes, nod towards the scratch, and they move out of my way. “I’m coming over,” says my scratch, and, “You should see the other guy.” And, “If you don’t want to get hit, turn your car on and back up. I don’t give a f@^k.”

I need my car to say that, because I’m far, far too much of a pansy to say it myself.

Things That Annoy Me

  • There is a couple of Dr. Pepper billboards that I see on my way to work. Basically, they show the torso of a man wearing a generic Dr. Pepper-colored tee-shirt and holding a can of Dr. Pepper. Over the tee-shirt they wrote (in a completely different font), “I’m a Bears fan” and then put a little Bears logo in the corner. Who do you think you’re fooling? Aside from the fact that Dr. Pepper thinks I’m dumb enough to go, “Oh, they say they’re connected to the sports team I like, I guess I’ll start buying that now!” the very nature of the generic, slap-dash, non-specific billboard only serves to highlight the fact that Dr. Pepper is a ruthless, bloodsucking corporation who cares not a whit about me and my fan loyalties. This is practically the photo negative of the feeling they’re trying to engender. At least spend the time, jeez.
  • Honking. No joke, someone honks at me every single day driving around Chicago. Usually it’s when I’m waiting to turn on green and someone behind me honks to encourage me to go. I cannot stress how rude this is. Usually when they honk I can’t actually go. It’s one thing if I’m not paying attention or something and you draw my attention to the road. But if I’m obviously paying attention (I’m creeping my car forward), then you are saying, “I know you don’t want to go, but I’m smarter than you and I know better than you do.” For example, the other day there was a long line of people who got off the train crossing the street, and someone several cars back started honking. From where they were, they probably couldn’t see the people crossing the street, so they didn’t know that if I went I’d be plowing through a solid wall of bodies. And that is precisely my point: from four cars back you have no idea what is going on up by me and why I’m not going. So now you’re actually enticing me to commit a crime, possibly murder. Let’s all settle down a little bit, shall we?
  • Speaking of honking, I can’t stand people honking to get someone to come out to the car. In this day and age, when everybody has a cell phone, there’s really just no excuse for this. The 50 condos worth of people on our street would appreciate it if you would give your party a call and keep it between the two of you, instead of including us. And if they don’t come out after the 10th honk, your honks are obviously not hurrying them. I think we can say pretty conclusively that they know you’re out there. (I certainly know you’re out there, and I’m not even expecting you.) Maybe, just maybe, they’ve got something going on that’s more important than you. You’re going to feel pretty dumb when you find out they were lying there dying, but you couldn’t bother to get out of your car. Or maybe your honking is causing them to go slower just to spite you. That’s what I’d do if I knew anybody rude enough to do this to me.
  • The weather report. I used to never check the weather, but now that I check it every day, I know less about the weather. Seriously, I gain more information by just peeking out the window. The official report always puts at least 10% chance of rain, just to hedge their bets. 100% chance of rain? How can you ever be 100% sure of anything, especially given your record weather reporting website? Well, guess what? IT DIDN’T RAIN. So thanks for nothing.
  • Those super loud “vortex” hand dryers. Yeah, maybe my hands might be one molecule more dry than with the old fashioned hand dryers, but guess what? I value my hearing more than semi-dry hands.

Backseat Drivers

For some reason, Evie and Ollie have taken it upon themselves to become the new “driving monitors” for everything I do when we’re in the car. It is not uncommon to hear, “Daddy, are you going the right way?” or “Daddy, aren’t you supposed to turn there?” or “Daddy, why are you turning here?” as if they had any idea where we were going.

In fact, it seems to be stoplights in particular that get heavily monitored. The very millisecond the light turns, Oliver starts yelling, “It’s green! It’s green!” And then Evie immediately wants to know, “Why aren’t you going daddy?” “Because,” I usually tell her, “if I start going now I’m going to smash into the back of the car in front of me.”

The speed limit is often a topic of discussion as well, despite the fact that neither of them has any idea what the speed limit is, or what the speedometer says. “Dada, we’re going too fast!” shouts Ollie, or Evie questions, “Why are you driving so slow?” My favorite is when Evie casually (and passive aggressively) asks, “Are we on the highway daddy?”

Oliver seems particular concerned that I’m going to jam on the gas the second I’m in the car. He’s constantly admonishing me, “Don’t drive, dada! Don’t drive with the doors open!” or “Don’t drive without Mama!” if she’s not in the car yet. It’s like he’s absolutely certain that he’s the only thing keeping me from taking off with Sara hanging out the door only holding on by his still-unfastened seat belt. As if I’ve ever started going before everybody was ready. Usually, the car’s not even on yet.

However, the one cool thing is when we’re sitting next to a semi which starts driving. “We’re going backwards! We’re going backwards!” squeals Oliver. Oh man, I remember how much I used to love that when I was a kid!