Traffic was pre-5:00 but starting to get thick with people getting off of work early and trying to beat the rush. I had both front windows of the GTP down, the sun roof cranked back, the two rear windows cracked. It was a warm, Mississippi Springtime afternoon, and I was enjoying listening to the Foo Fighters on the local alternative / hard rock music station.
I was headed home after a long day, the last half of a daily 80 mile round trip, on 98 West. I was just crossing the overpass of I59 when a beat up Ford Escort merged into traffic from the on ramp and pulled up beside me in the flow. I didn’t think much about it, the Ford was a plain jane two door Escort, and not even a GT. The car was red, with a white front cap that was not only obviously misaligned, but also somewhat beat up. My first impression was that this car had already been in some kind of front end collision and that the owner had gone to the boneyard, picked out a new cap, and just not had the colors matched. It looked suspiciously like shade tree mechanic and six pack wrench swinging to me. The one thing I did notice was that the car was driven by this muscle shirt wearing buzz cut sporting stick figure. Now, if you’re going to wear a muscle shirt (aka wife beater shirt) then you should at least have the decency to display some muscles with it. Such was not the case. I noticed his girlfriend or wife or sister was in the car with him, seated in the front passenger side, her tanned skin and long platinum blonde hair pulled back into a pony tail.
Another thing I immediately noticed was that the Escort was loud. It didn’t have a coffee can exhaust, but it must not have had a muffler either. It sounded like a spastic bumblebee with chronic diarrhea. A crookedly applied “My child is an honor student at…” was applied to the rear bumper. I began to wonder if the driver was actually the person being referenced to on the rear bumper sticker. If he was, then the rest of this story will be even funnier when reviewed in hindsight.
Now whoever said that “with great power comes great responsibility” must have owned a muscle car or at least something with some power under the hood. The speed limit in this six lane area of the highway was 45 mph, but most of the traffic was congested so we were lucky to be doing somewhere between 35mph and 40mph. The ebb and flow of traffic is like a vast metal river, you have to understand how the current flows and where the breakers are. That knowledge comes from years of experience in driving the same roads time and time again. Today was no different and I casually flicked the GTP from lane to lane when the opportunity presented itself, threading traffic in order to avoid the stack ups that I knew would be farther on (like those starting to form because the turn lane to the super Walmart was now backed up and stacking up into the far left lane).
I don’t know what Escort Boy was thinking, but he obviously didn’t know much about the power of a supercharged Grand Prix or else he never would have started trying to pick a race with me. It wouldn’t have been much of a contest on an open stretch of road, but there was no way I was even going to start to play around in semi-bumper to bumper traffic. We were doing 40mph in a 45mph zone, traffic all around, and he revs on me. Like I’ve previously said, imagine a spastic bumblebee with chronic diarrhea. Now imagine sticking a bullhorn up to the bee’s butt and you’ll have about the same sound that I heard through my cycled down passenger side windows.
I looked over at the guy but he didn’t look back so I stared forward again, forgetting about the whole thing. That’s when he downshifted and tried to jump ahead, wanting to break in front of me by the narrowest of margins. Oh, I don’t think so, Escort Boy! I gave a little bit of throttle to the L67 and let the torque of the 3.8 liter motor pull me a little closer to the car in front, not in the danger zone but just close enough that the Escort couldn’t jump forward and jerk over in front of me. Well, this apparently made Escort Boy mad so he worked the clutch and revved again. You wouldn’t think that one little bumblebee could have that much flatulence on board, but I guess they build them that way. I laughed and kept tabs on him out of my peripheral vision, not going to give him any more of my time other than what it took to keep him from doing something stupid and trading paint with me.
At the next stop light in Oak Grove, the one in front of Methodist hospital, we again pulled up side by side. Escort Boy revved on me again, let the RPMs fall, and revved on me again a second time. What made it even more interesting was the fact that this time, both he and the girl looked over to see what I would do or if I would accept the challenge. I ignored them both, it would be all too easy to punish the pregnant roller skate sitting next to me, about like using a sledgehammer to smash a cockroach that had been glued to the floor.
And then I heard tires squeal on dry pavement and saw a tiny puff of tire smoke from the Escort. WTF? The guy had just revved up, dropped the clutch enough to engage the tires, smoke them, then slammed down hard on the brakes before he went into the rear end of the Oldsmobile Achieva in front of him. Stupid move, amateur, I thought. What does that prove? If you want to see a burnout, a real burnout, I’d be happy to leave you in a cloud so thick that you couldn’t see out of it. He revved again, worked the clutch, and barked his tires, backing off just as his car jumped forward. He seemed to think this was some kind of superior display of horsepower or that I would be awed by his driving skill. I actually laughed at him because it was like a kitten pawing at a Doberman.
The light turned green and we both started to accelerate with the traffic flow, only Escort Boy decides he’s had enough of being behind the car in front of him and that he has to show me some superior Blue Ovary power. He revs his engine, down shifts, and jerks over into the turn lane, passes the car in front of him on the right, using the dedicated turn lane as an impromptu passing lane, goes on up two more cars, then pulls back into traffic on ahead of all the rest of us in traffic.
Yee-haw. Yawn. Antics like that really make me mad, it’s amateurish and dumb. I just forget about him and drive on through traffic, keying the music louder with the controls set in the steering wheel. Oh my! Wonder of wonders, through a series of turn-offs and vehicles moving back and forth between the lanes of traffic, I find that Escort Boy has been stopped second in line at the next traffic light. I pull up right beside him, smiling to myself, laughing on the inside, as I am also the second car waiting in line at the light, in the middle lane. All of that bravado for nothing, I muse.
The Escort is right behind one of those expensive Lexus RX300 or so SUVs, a nice taupe colored one with all of the chrome trim. I’m idling in traffic, right next to the Escort and I notice that he’s about a three feet off of the bumper of the Lexus. He looks over at me and the girl leans back in the seat, folds her arms around his shoulders and stares at me and the GTP. Apparently, the boy and girl in the Escort were out to prove something to me, what it was, I don’t know, unless in hindsight it was that the driver of the Escort was a complete skating no life poser. If he was out to prove that to me, then he succeeded more than he ever could have imagined was possible.
I casually slipped the transmission into neutral and give the L67 a little throttle, not much, a nice slow rise to 2000 rpm then back down to idle, hearing the exhaust burble in the man-made technological canyons that have been formed by the rows of cars. That was all Escort Boy needed, I guess, to challenge his manhood and his authority. He pokes his bumblebee with a sharp stick again and makes it angry enough to percolate again. He sidesteps the clutch a little and the Escort barks the tires, then he slams on brakes and the Escort rocks hard back and forth. His ability to dance must be meager as his spastic footwork on the clutch and brake pedal results in the engine stalling and dying.
I bust out laughing, all professionalism gone and my best poker face ruined. I’m sure that they can hear me laughing at them because Escort Boy restarts his engine and revs it high. He looks over at me, mouthing something and giving it emphasis by motioning angrily with his head but can’t hear him over the radio in my car and the angry bumblebee with the sharp stick up its ass in the lane next to me. I stare at him and he stares back, eye to eye with nothing but my passenger seat and about three feet of hot asphalt separating us.
I mouth the words “you are a loo-ser” to him and he comes unglued. He high revs, keeping the revs steady and because he misjudged his position in traffic, his foot slipped, or he was just a frigging moron whose ego decided to override his common sense, he FUBARs big time in a comical way. The Escort chirped its tires, long and loud, leaping forward with a start that made both he and I jump, mainly because it was the last thing either of us expected to happen, even though it was a much grander example of what he had intended to do. The drone of the bumblebee next to me ended as a sickening sound of hard impact between a moving object and a stationary one. Escort Boy had just managed to jack rabbit his Ford into the back of the Lexus, crumpled its different colored nose right into the bumper of the Lexus in front of him as his motor stalled and died. The image of him being thrown forwards then backwards as he stared straight at me was priceless. His eyes got as big as softballs and his mouth opened wide enough that I swear you could have put a nine inch K&N cone filter in and still not have scraped the sides. The fact that the rear window of the Lexus shattered on impact and that steam started wafting out from the crumpled up front end of the Escort only added insult to injury.
The woman driving the Lexus got out, shouting at Escort Boy as she dialed angrily on her cell phone, stabbing the buttons as hard as she could while using a variety of body language to portray her displeasure. The light in front of us turned green and I stayed behind just long enough to get Escort Boy’s attention again.
“Awesome job, compadre.” I said sarcastically, giving him a thumbs up with my driving gloved right hand.
“Maybe when you go to the junkyard for a new front cap this time, you’ll get one that matches the paint on the rest of your car.” I added for good measure.
I didn’t hear his reply because I was already gone. I drove home, another 30 miles away, with the biggest smile on my face. Morons can be such good medicine after a long, hard day at work, the relief just gets right to the sore spots and works instantly to sooth all the worries of the day away. Try it sometime, I highly recommend the therapeutic effects of this natural medicinal source.