Driving in December=insanity.
I conveniently forget this year after year. I'm not sure if it is because my near-death experiences aren't memorable enough, if it is because the intoxication of Christmas delicacies clouds my mind, or if it is because all of the lights and ornaments have sent my ADD into overload. Nevertheless, I forget--year after year--how positively scary it is to drive during the very time of year when we are regularly reminded to be kind and generous and selfless.
Yesterday, I actually contemplated the creation of a sign for my window. Annoyed--and slightly jarred--by the regular occurrence of seemingly possessed toy-seekers, I considered pulling out my marker, poster board and tape, so I could pen the following phrase in big, bold letters: "I do not want the toys or electronics or games you are determined to get at all costs. I just want art supplies and frames. Please don't hurt me."
In the span of fifteen minutes, I almost died twice. Nearly pressed flat into the concrete barrier along the left lane entrance ramp, a stream of six cars refused to let me merge. The lane beside them? Open, of course. Then once I got to my exit, the car beside me decided to come over--right at me. I had to actually swerve into the berm to miss him. No one was behind me of course, but he had to have my spot. He couldn't speed up or slow down. Nope. He needed come over right then. He was on the phone of course, approaching the red light, full speed ahead. As soon as I caught my breath, I causally pulled into the lane right beside him; his antics didn't get him an inch closer to his destination.
Once I finally made it to the Michael's parking lot, my bubbling anxiety fizzed out a bit--until someone tried to cut me off in the middle of my turn into a spot at the back end of the parking lot. I decided I would park as far away as humanly possible so no one could come near me--apparently this girl had the same idea, and apparently she didn't care who got there first. Unable to change course, I pressed into my turn, and pulled into the spot. She was so close to me, I would have hit her if I pulled back out and gave her the spot. Nevertheless, she screamed at me, waving her arms, forming curse words with her melodramatic lips. Then she peeled out of the parking lot and took off down the road to who knows where. Despite the fact there were at least ten other open spots, I took her's and if she couldn't have that one, well, by golly she wasn't going to take any of them.
Even in Michael's I encountered elbows and isle cutoffs, people approached the store like a heated battle on the gym floor. I can compete with the best of them, but I felt full of the Christmas carols on the radio, and just couldn't find it in my heart to elbow back. I simply grabbed what I needed, took the last remaining shred of holiday spirit up to the register with me, got into my car, and embarked on my brutal ride home.
Once I returned to my condo, I sat and stared at my Christmas tree, wondering why people tend to be utterly insane during the holidays. I'd like to believe some of it is our desire to give, but I'm not fully convinced. Anger and greed seem to emanate a bit too heavy from the lanes of the highway, and from the asphalt in the parking lot, for me to believe every single person is driven by the desire for good. I'm pretty sure toys and games can't save the world, but I'd like to believe people can. And because of that, I think it's pretty important to keep them alive. I don't know how many car accidents occur during the holidays, but based on personal experience, I have to believe we all enter into a crazy gamble each time we take to the road.
Maybe that's why I forget about the insanity year after year. Maybe I don't want to believe it. Maybe it's because the Christmas spirit has dug deep into my skin and forced me to believe--not in Santa Clause of course, but in all of the good things he represents. The silly guy in the red suit has a pretty respectable job, after all. He spends his whole life getting ready to reward the people who are good and kind and generous. Whether people believe in Christmas or not--that seems like a fairly decent motto. Maybe if I stick his face on my car window it will send out a reminder that he's still making his list, and checking it twice, and those naughty cars better hurry up and start being nice.