Traffic Light:

I know this road well, the tarmac grey with wear, and asphalt patches like ink splotches. I look at those and then the weird faded-and-somehow bright-yellow and white lines.
Dust probably flicks and swirls behind me.

I glance at the speed limit, hoping it has increased,.. 45.

I look at my speedometer.

A spot or so above 45, somewhere in the estimate range.

I start to move for the break but then remind myself cops don’t hide here, and even if they are it’s pretty unlikely they’d get me for the space between 45 and 50.

The sunlight speckles the highway through the trees and the trees leave skeletal shadows flashing toward me, a sparkling black river.

I notice ahead of me a car coming up. I think to myself about the times I’ ve slowed down to a crawl due to folks riding my bumper. So I adjust accordingly. My speedometer reads 36 like it’s daring me to pass them.

“What the hell,..” slips out of my mouth.

There’s no space for a move so I just wait for the split up ahead. I like to think it makes trying to pass them a surprise or at least less of an insult which tends to turn slow folks into race car drivers.
I spend a moment trying to understand why folks actually go under the limit so often here, and then as to why such an extent. I think about the times I’ve been on my way early and yet showing up almost late. The thought gets me heated, my belly gets angry a bit, and I ready myself to pass these folks.

Sometimes these people speed up at the split, and make it difficult to pass. Then they slow down to their 36 mph again just when the split ends.
When the split comes I watch the, (insert the shittiest car of the moment speech here).

I bet myself they take the left lane, people are afraid of the right. It’s too close to the woods and makes people think trees are going to hit them.

They drift to the left.

I jerk my foot toward the floor, not too much but I pick up the pace, and guide it to the right. You’d think that’d be enough, but somehow they’ve become incensed. They leave the comfy 36 and start to match my 46. I try to avoid looking over, but out of the corner of my eye I see them INCHING-UP!

I can’t believe it, but I can’t look over. I fear it would suddenly turn this into some pseudo, Wild West shoot out, and I’m trying to get to work, not race. I know this vehicle isn’t a sports car, and mine is no super stallion, but it does have a kick to it so jerking my foot to the floor, the car releases and then pushes forward harder.

I feel my weight sink further into my seat, and I settle in to commit; the lanes are narrow and people freak when trying to pass on the outside lane. I extend my vision forward to get a better perspective.
My car pulls forward, but now I’m doing 55 and accelerating, and though it seems they’re now blatantly trying to match me, I begin to pull away.

The speed limit has since changed to 50, but that won’t last for long, I take advantage of the narrow pass and allow my car to find 60 before I lay off.

As I come around the bend another car appears in the distance.

‘IT’S A FREAKIN’ VAN!’ I think so loud I wonder if I actually said it. I calm down, it looks like a work van, and most of those folks are on the same page I’m on, you know the one where I get to work early.

It’s already entering the merge and my only likeliness is stuck behind it.

The light build-up of adrenaline flushes out of me, and a feeling vaguely like relief turns into guilt.

I realize the light we’re about to approach is probably going to be red, or turning red. Of course it’s red, but if there had been no one else on the road it would have been green, I muse. It makes me mad about the situation I put myself in. Perhaps not mad, but embarrassed. As we draw to a stop my eyes flick from radio buttons to the window to the dash board, where I just stare for a moment in a doze.

After a moment I look up to the rear view mirror, I see the car I passed coming around the bend and closing.

I get a peculiar feeling, and makes me regret life decisions. The car I passed awkwardly, is about to catch up, and probably give me some, “See I told ya!” look.

I convince myself this is slightly paranoid, just in time to notice the light has turned green and the van has begun moving forward. I snap my attention out of my head and we’re back up to speed which lets the regret fade away, like the traffic light is a beacon for terrible feelings.

As this temporary posse of road-goers continues, my thoughts gently flow to the destination and the notorious other awkward traffic scenarios between here and there.

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~ by Rictus Hood on April 6, 2013.

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