Sometimes when I’m stuck in traffic I look at the other drivers and imagine the conversations they’re having with their passengers or the people they’re talking to on their phones. Actually, it isn’t so much that I imagine them as that I actually have them, out loud, with myself.
I’m particularly fond of doing this whenever I spot senior citizens on the road.
It’s worth noting that, despite the fact that I live in what is technically a Southern state, and regardless of their ethnicity, my “old people talking” voice is a cartoonish version of the stereotypical Minnesota accent. I don’t know why that is, other than that it just somehow makes things funnier, because, honestly, how could it not?
(Jon, stopped at a red light, notices an elderly couple in the car ahead of him.)
“It doesn’t even matter to me what the Bible says; I just plain don’t like the gays.”
“Well, you know, Harriet Johnson’s oldest boy, he’s got the gay.”
”Oh no! Butcha know, that Harriet, she always did coddle that boy.”
Of course, I don’t actually limit myself to providing dialogue for the people who are actually talking; I like to put into words what other drivers’ actions are saying. For example, my go-to phrase whenever some leadfoot comes shooting past me is, “I am Barry Godddamn Allen! I am the Fastest Man Alive!”
I also imagine that the people who fail to respond to a light turning green are desperately lonely and needy people. “Aw guys, come on, where are you going? Can’t we all just hang out here for a while longer? It’s so cozy! We can sing songs, tell ghost stories, make s’mores, and – hey, come back! Guys? Guys?”
In any case, on the drive home from work today I found myself going beyond the realm of idly passing the time and into the borderlands of sanity itself, as I had a sustained conversation with an imaginary driver who represented the general behavior of most everyone else on the road (and also had something of a speech impediment).
“I don’t shee why everyonesh in shuch a hurry. Why not take the time to enjoy the shcenery? Shtop and shmell the roshes?”
There are no roses. And what scenery?
”Well, there’sh…shome treesh…houshes…that Walgreensh looksh nice, and that conshtruction equipment ish kinda neat…you can shee where the old road hash been torn up…”
Yeah, it’s a wonder to behold. Truly there are miracles all around us if only we’d open our eyes to see them. My god, that office complex is transcendent. Now can you just speed it the hell up?
”Shlow down, turbo. You’re the one who makesh fun of the people who go really fasht with that blashphemoush expression.”
Those people are being just a ridiculous as you are, just in the opposite way. There’s nothing wrong with driving at a reasonable speed. You know, somewhere within spitting distance of the speed limit?
”Ish that shpitting comment shome kind of dig on the way I talk? Are you telling me shay it don’t shpray it?”
What? No it’s just – look, quit trying to distract me. The goddamn light is green. Go, for fuck’s sake!
”You don’t have to shwear like that.”
Clearly I do. I wouldn’t have to if you’d stop trying to smell the nonexistent goddamn roses and pay attention to the lights.
”What wash that?”
Nothing. Look, I just want to get home, okay? It’s been a long day, I’ve got an even longer day ahead of me tomorrow, I’m tired, and I just want to go home. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
”Why are you shuch a rush to get home? It'sh not like theresh anyone there waiting for you.”
So? It’s home. It’s where my bed is, it’s where I feel comfortable, and, most importantly, it’s not here.
”You should get a dog. Then you could have shomeone who would be excited about you being home.”
I don’t need a dog for that; I’m excited about me being home.
”But a dog would wag hish tail and jump all over you and be all happy.”
That has zero appeal to me. Besides, I’m allergic.
”You could get one of thoshe hyp-hypo-hypnoalergic dogsh.”
Hypoallergenic. And I don’t want one of those, either.
”What about a cat?”
Go fuck yourself.
This seriously went on for like fifteen minutes. I’d be a little more concerned about my sanity, but honestly, when I’m in traffic, I have no sanity to be concerned about.