I wrote this in a writing class at UC Santa Cruz. People seem to find it amusing. - I'd like you to meet someone. By appearance, he could be almost any age, from thirty to seventy or beyond. You never get a good look at him; a glance is all you can spare him. He might be wealthy beyond any vision of vice and avarice; he might be struggling to feed himself every day. Is he a parent? An only child? You'll never know any of these things. All you need to know about him is this: he's in a slow car, and he's in front of YOU. We've all met this man at one time or another. He's the fellow who's afraid to pass the big truck, or the one who swerves suddenly in front of you from the other lane, narrowly avoiding the mile-long space between you and the car behind you. And no matter how unlikely it seems that a person of his cerebral fortitude could survive long enough to win a driver's license, there he is, preventing you from pursuing happiness at the velocity you'd prefer. What can you do about the situation? Precious little, unless by chance you're hurrying home from a survivalist association meeting in the Rocky Mountains. In general, though, you aren't equipped to remove the obstacle forcibly. So you vent your frustration on yourself, your car, your spouse and children, or any other destructible object within reach. Your hands clench the steering wheel with knuckle- bleaching force. You gnaw on your lip until it seems likely to burst in a shower of blood. Your breath is soon three times louder than usual, and more rhythmic and regular than the tick of a metronome. The radio is playing your favorite piece of music; doesn't it suddenly seem about as pleasant and relaxing as fingernails on a chalkboard? Still, you reason with a calmness as genuine as a politician's promise to lower taxes, he'll probably move over soon. He's just in your lane to pass that green Volvo station wagon with the baby on board, right? Sure he is. He has to be. See? There's a space in the right-hand lane, and in his molluscule way, he's drawing nearer and nearer. Here it comes, and... Okay. You'll grant him that. Maybe that gap wasn't sufficiently wide to effect a safe transfer of lanes. THIS one, though, is a gap of Cyclopean propor- tions, a gap to make the Grand Canyon seem a mere sidewalk crack. Aha! He's moving toward the right side of the lane. His tires are bouncing on the little white bumps... and he swerves back into his lane - YOUR lane - to the abrupt hor- ror of the multitudes to his rear. A light bulb materializes above your head. If he won't move over, you'll use this huge hole in traffic to pass HIM! Won't that be a fitting punishment? The clodhopper, that flea on wheels, will immediately see the error of his ways as you rocket past at the light-bending speed of forty miles an hour. Your heart rate descends to a measurable pace as you dart deftly into the gap, delighting the sheiks as your foot blasts gasoline into the engine. The coxcomb learns his lesson well. He immediately makes up for his past transgressions, following your exam- ple. Like a playful dog, he speeds to your side. You increase the stakes of the game, but he matches your bet. You're nearing the front of the gulf. There's only one chance now. Applying every milligram of power remaining in your jet-powered jalopy, you open the throttle all the way. Almost there... but it was not meant to be. Now it's brake or be broken, and you slow, watching as the automotive embo- diment of evil glides carelessly past. You regain your pre- vious position, biding your time. At last, after several blinding flashes of your headlights and deafening blasts of your horn, the message works its way through the labyrinthine depths of his per- petually idle consciousness. By intent or coincidence, he yields control of the left half of the road to you. Just to show him how wrong he's been, you streak past him at what he must think an absurd, inconceivable speed. Once he's out of sight, you relax. Now the road is yours, to travel at your whim. You smile, and the smog seems to clear from the air slightly. Glancing in your rear-view mirror, you see a car nearly nudging yours, following you at a microscopic distance. Your grin widens. The woman behind you must be as glad as you are, to be past that moronic slowpoke.
(From the "Rest" of RHF)