Hell on Wheels

Driving in OC, in your own words


A few days ago, while driving south on the 405 near Costa Mesa, the traffic swirling around me like something out of Lagos, Nigeria, I pulled in between a massive truck (its grill filled my rear-view mirror) and your tiny Pintoesque vehicle with a bumper sticker that read, "HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS." So I honked—and thus embarked on the most terrifying few moments of the past year. You very clearly flipped me off and then tapped your brakes. I hit mine to avoid being accordioned by the truck behind me. When I moved to change lanes, you swerved to stay in front of me—and then flipped me off and tapped your brakes again. I backed off. Way off. So did you. Soon cars were flowing around us like river water around rocks. I changed lanes. Twice. You followed, always staying just in front of me. I slowed to 25; you slowed to 25—and then began gesturing at me to pull over. I flashed through a scenario: we'd pull over, I'd explain that I was honking because, like you, I love Jesus, and we'd have a good laugh, share a moment of brotherly love, and part friends. Then again, perhaps you'd just shoot me. Perhaps the car wasn't yours. I began to feel like Dennis Weaver in Steven Spielberg's Duel. I pulled around you and sped toward an offramp. You veered toward the offramp, too, but—thank you, Jesus!—too late, and you satisfied yourself with one long honk and what looked like FUCKYOUFUCKYOUFUCKYOUFUCKYOU! I threw my head back and laughed with relief. I had escaped! Or had I? I'm figuring you live around here somewhere and that you're spreading your peculiar brand of Christian goodwill. Like the ripples from a rock in a pond, your toxic behavior may unsettle others. And who knows what evil those people will commit in turn? Please, for Christ's sake, get rid of the bumper sticker.


Okay, summer is here, and once again, I am surrounded. Everywhere I go—video store, Del Taco drive-through, porn shop—I see them: HARVEST CRUSADE BUMPER STICKERS! As if there aren't enough fundie morons with Jesus-fish bumper stickers out there in OC. Nothing makes me happier than being cut off on the highway by some fucktard in a 4X4 with a "Real Men Love Jesus" sticker on the back. I gotta ask: Do you think your God likes having his name on the back of a car? I wish Christians would show a little more respect for their beliefs than to degrade their messiah into a witty slogan, sharing space with Carl's Jr. "Eat Meat" stickers. How 'bout: "If you can read this, you're not saved"? It's a dang good thing that Jews, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists all have enough taste and sense to keep their beliefs personal and private. Can you imagine, instead of the diamond lane, the crucifix lane? Merging for Methodists only? I call on all freethinkers in OC to view these stickers as I do: targets.


I walk out of my class at Santa Ana College a few weeks ago and stop at a street corner, waiting for the light to change. It's a perfect day: sun shining, light traffic, something like a gentle trade wind blowing. Next to me, a young woman is pushing a stroller with a young kid, maybe 4 years old, and holding a puny dog on a leash. Ah, life! The light changes, the dog charges into the street, hits the limit of his leash, gets tangled around the wheels of the stroller, and locks up the stroller in the perilous path of traffic. Cars stop. I help the woman unwind dog and stroller, and as the light changes again, we return to the safety of our curb. We talk amiably—nice kid, nice dog, thanks for helping, think nothing of it. The light changes again. Crosswalk says walk. Dog leads us off the curb and into the crosswalk—as a car bears down upon us, races through the intersection, and rolls over the dog, the driver tapping the brakes briefly, maybe to consider the possibility of stopping, sensing, perhaps, the oncoming traffic, and then punching it. Gone in a cloud of dust and dog guts. I did not get the license number or even the make of the car. But I will never forget that fender and the sight of that little dog body rolling around the tire not once but twice, bouncing off the wheel well like a shoe in a dryer before being shot out sideways a few feet from the stroller, the crying kid and the freaking woman. I'll never forget that fender. Never.


I shouldn't drive drunk, but I do occasionally because of a lot of very good reasons that are none of your goddamn business, and can I say something, please? I drive better than most of you. I'm assuming you're sober. Or maybe we're all drunk and I just handle the alcohol better. A couple of weeks ago, one of you pulled into my lane without signaling or even looking, forcing me into the carpool lane. I wasn't too drunk that time. But you sure drove like you were smashed. I don't know whether to tell you people to stop drinking or to start. Or maybe just to start doing whatever it is you're not.

« Previous Page
Next Page »