The Last Straw

So, Strike One is that I haven’t had a smoke in four days. We’re both giving quitting an honest, solid try right now and it’s going well, but I don’t have a lot of margin for error at the moment.

Strike One Point Five? Haven’t had a drink in six. Drinking and quitting smoking don’t exactly go hand in hand.

Strike Two? CHANTIX. Yeah, it’s a wonder drug when you’re trying to quit nicotine, but it does fuckall for keeping you on the “able to” side of “keep your shit together”.

Strike Two Point Five? Wife’s been outta town since Tuesday. So it’s just me, the cats, and not smoking or drinking. Not a recipe for calm.

Strike Two Point Nine Five? This fuckin’ weather. Driving in the rain blows.

So, what was Strike Three, you may ask, if you’ve hung in so far?

A little old lady.

Scene: smr is driving home after a nice dinner with his brother. He’s tired, crabby, smoke-free and sober, and heading home to a house without a wife in it because said wife is in Utah. Okay, fine.

It’s dark and rainy out. smr is a careful driver, so he’s keeping the speed down and watching intersections and crosswalks carefully.

smr comes to an intersection where he has the red. He’s in the right-hand turn lane, as he needs to turn right. The two lanes to his left already have cars stopped at the light and backed up. He is approaching them in his right-turn lane.

Since smr can’t see through the cars stopped in the left lanes into the crosswalk, smr starts braking as soon as his line of sight is closed off and is almost at a complete stop a good six feet before the start of the crosswalk. As traffic is coming through on the cross street at a good clip, he’s not going to be able to turn until it’s green anyways.

As smr’s erstwhile Jetta rolls to its final stop (again, many feet clear of the START of the crosswalk), a sweet little old lady enters his field of view from the left, in the crosswalk. As smr is already finishing braking, and almost fully stopped, he thinks nothing of it.

TO BE MOTHERFUCKING CLEAR: there is no risk to the old lady. At all. She is crossing in front of two stopped cars in the lanes to smr’s left, and smr is just about stopped a good six feet back from the crosswalk. Why, smr could take his foot off of the brakes at this point and his car wouldn’t have the momentum left to roll into the crosswalk.

So, does the old lady just finish making her fucking way across the crosswalk and onto the sidewalk? Oh no. Of course she doesn’t.

smr has been paying her no mind, focusing instead on the light, waiting for it to change to green. He saw the old lady enter his field of view, so he just finished braking and is at a complete stop six feet short of the START of the crosswalk. He’ll get on the gas when she’s out of the street and the light goes green. smr does not creep-roll red lights, and yells at Mrs. smr constantly for doing that when she’s driving.

The old lady is Perfectly. Safe.

smr has to turn his attention from the light to her, though, because, while she HAD been proceeding north through the crosswalk and facing north, she has now clearly stopped dead in front of smr’s car and rotated 45 degrees to where she is now facing smr dead on.

Including the hood of smr’s car, there are AT LEAST eight feet between her eyes and smr’s eyes, which are now locked onto each other.

It’s raining, and dark, and smr has the windows rolled up and music cranking, so, if the old lady is saying anything, smr has no fucking clue what it is. But it is clear that the old lady is annoyed, nay, SERIOUSLY PISSED OFF that smr has only left a gap between his front bumper and the start of the crosswalk long enough to fit two of the old lady’s corpses stretched out head to toe.

She is making this point by gesticulating angrily at smr’s car, which is six feet away, and the start of the crosswalk, which is right under her hands.

IE, six feet away from smr’s car. Which is stopped. Completely. And has been for a while at this point.

A reminder: smr is tired. smr wants a smoke and an Old Style. smr is not going to get either of those things. And while smr normally holds a little life rule that says “give little old ladies a veritable fuckton of leeway”, because that is what well-raised men just do, and smr’s momma raised him the right way, and he has always kept to that rule, smr. just. can’t. even.

Because, smr thinks, “This. Is. BULLSHIT”.

“I am goddamned stopped over a car length away from her, and I slow-rolled to this stop because it’s dark and rainy and that’s what a careful, considerate-to-pedestrians driver fucking does, and I am ALL of those adjectives. MAYBE I could understand this like if I had to jam on my brakes to bring my bumper to a halt three inches from this tired dusty bitch’s arthritic knees, but that’s not the fucking case, now is it? No, it fucking ain’t. She literally has no reason to be giving me shit right now, and I’d normally let this go, but the part of my conscience that normally suppresses these thoughts is fueled by nicotine and alcohol, and I’ve got fucking NEITHER of them in my system right now so guess, what, granny? I don’t give a fuck if your seven decades have been an unrelenting shitshow that Dickens could’ve written a fucking novel about, I’m not having it. I don’t care if everything went to hell for you the day you let little Mickey Sullivan from one parish over have his way with you and put the first of your eventual seven ungrateful kids into you back when Tricky Dick Nixon was running things, and you’ve spent every hour since regretting that moment because Mickey liked to talk with his fists so you’ve spent the last four decades getting knocked off of more furniture than Michael J. Fox’s shins, and now Mickey’s dead and your kids hate you and you’re all alone and that sucks, I realize, but that’s still NO reason for you to be a DICK TO A TOTAL STRANGER WITHOUT CAUSE.

So, forgive me, old lady, but as you finally stepped out of the crosswalk, pausing only to turn one last time and literally give me the ol’ “hand swiped under the chin” curse that you probably learned at your toothless gypsy grandmother’s knee back in the old country, I felt permitted, nay, OBLIGED, to return it to you via the modern, updated version, consisting of double-barreled birds aimed at your face, with a FUUUUUUUUCK YOUUUUUUUUU mouthed so slowly that even your¬†Alzheimer’s-ridden wreckage of a brain that never really fully learned English in the first place could comprehend EXACTLY what I meant.”

smr’s not proud of this. It was a moment of weakness. But smr doesn’t feel TOO bad, because age alone does not somehow automatically grant one the right to be a total fuckin’ asshole to strangers for absolutely no reason.