- A blue coupe spun out on a six-lane merged highway two miles from my office. It was about 200 feet in front of me and two lanes over, right in front of an 18-wheeler. Somehow the guy spun back and forth across almost all lanes of traffic and avoided every other vehicle, finally slamming into the median and stopping. He didn't appear to be injured.
- I exit off the highway two minutes later and stop at a red light. There's a late-model white Lexus in front of me. The driver opens the door, leans out and hawks a nice loogie into the street. Nice. I've seen this before, and have written about it here.
- The light turns green, and we all go through the intersection. The white pickup truck in front of me proceeds to run into the curb. Twice. And he's not turning. Either he's drunk, inattentive, on the cell phone, or he's just a baaaad driver. This is when I consider just turning around and going home.
- I eventually reach the parking garage safely and walk to the office building. Twenty feet from the door, I suddenly get a shower of water on my head. Huh? It's not raining anywhere else... just on me. I look up and see window washers on the seventh floor, working their squeegees feverishly. The wind blows their soapy water off the windows, down 50 feet and right on top of my head.
In other car-related news, Jamie took the kids to her grandfather's house last week for one night. This means one night of totally free guy-time for me... what to do? Strange as it may sound, I took a drive.
Before the days of long commutes and bumper-to-bumper traffic, driving was a soothing activity for me. More on that in a minute.
When I left the garage on my night alone I wasn't sure what the destination was. Soon enough, though, I found myself near the last apartment we lived in, right around the time of Samantha's birth. I decided to go ahead and drive by there and think about how much has changed. Then I drove to the apartment before that, when we were DINKS (Dual-Income, No Kids). Then the office building of my last job. With no traffic on the road, I hit almost all my family's important Houston locations from the past eight years. And it only took an hour.
The most impactful part of the drive was the realizaton that I wouldn't trade places with any of those past times. I like where we are. I like who I am. I love my family of four. That's a good way to start the New Year.
Now for that story about driving as therapy...
I think I was about 20 years old, on Christmas break from college and back home in Kansas City. I decided to take a drive out to one the baseball fields I played on as a teenager, just to sit and listen to music. This was my version of a safe, relaxing and inexpensive outing.
After sitting in the empty parking lot facing the field for about fifteen minutes, I noticed another car pull into the parking lot. It was a police car. No lights or sirens, but he parked behind me and just sat there. I stayed in my seat and tried not to make any sudden movements.
A few minutes later a second police car pulled in next to the first one. That's when it hit me -- the first cop was calling for backup, and that's why he didn't get out of his car. With the second officer there, they both turned on their lights and got on the blowhorn, instructing me to exit the vehicle slowly with my hands in clear sight. Huh? I obviously complied.
They told me to put my hands on my trunk and they patted me down for weapons and drugs. By this point I started to get a little ticked off and asked exactly what was wrong with sitting in a public parking lot and listening to music. They answered that there had been some vandalism in the area, and when a homeowner saw my car in the parking lot she immediately called it in. The cops couldn't seem to believe that I was just there because it was my old field, and I was just listening to music. But it was the truth.
They told me to leave the area, and I just had to ask one more question. Probably stupid, but I was 20 years old and not exactly humble. So I asked, "Why do I have to leave? I'm not doing anything illegal, and it's a public park." One officer just looked at me and sneered. He was probably wondering if he could somehow shoot me and get away with it. He just said "Leave" again, so I did.
For some reason I haven't taken many 'therapeutic" drives since then.