Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Road Rage? Ah, the Joys of School Traffic

School is now back in session in my area of the country. What this means to me, as a working mother making three stops by the time I finally complete the great circle of this town and finally end up at work, is a case of road rage... at least according to some sources.

Apparently, if we drivers get angry and mutter or even think nasty thoughts about other drivers, we're guilty of an episode of road rage. Good Lord, if what I feel is road rage, then some other people out there are probably figuratively guilty of episodic road homicide.

I wake up each weekday morning, get three people ready, get all three into the car no later than 7:15, and then the great circus begins. First, I drive about a quarter mile from my house to my elder son's elementary school. All three of us get out of the car (since there is supposedly no supervision prior to 7:40 --although the school busses arrive at 7:20, so don't even get me started on that part...) and walk the Spawn to his on-site daycare. The younger and I then walk back to the car and I buckle him in again. This trip takes us all the way across campus both ways since the school board, in its infinite wisdom, moved the child care facility from the rooms designed for it (which were placed directly beside the school's driveway) to the cafeteria as said geniuses determined it was preferable to have adults traipsing all the way through campus to the cafeteria than to add another portable and keep non-certified adults on the periphery of same.

I then drive through the never-ending road widening project (projected completion date: this past March; actual completion date: when frozen pigs fly in hell), and cross one of our main drags to my younger son's daycare location. This takes me through no fewer than three school zones, no matter which route I attempt. After that drop-off, it's once again through another school zone, across the same main drag again, and I'm at work by 8:00, if I'm lucky, where I can finally get some peace and quiet. This drive, when school isn't in session? Takes thirty minutes max. And if you cut out the daycare stops it's under twenty.

School zones, you may have noticed, figure heavily in my route, and they're the source of much of my annoyance. To all the overly-cautious drivers who opt to drive 5 mph rather than the posted 15 mph, it is simply unnecessary to go ten freaking miles under the bloody speed limit. There are no extra credit points for "super slow." The cop just beyond the school zone? Is not going to stop you and give you a "get out of points free" card. There is no gold star, there is nothing except the driver behind you muttering various things under her breath urging you to embrace the accelerator.

It's the vertical one on the right, in case there's any confusion.

On the flip side of the turtles, there are the idiots who break all traffic laws known to man in their efforts to beat every red light, dodge everyone who's maybe, perhaps, actually embracing the speed limit, and reach their destination no matter what the cost in life, limb, and curbing. These are the folks who embrace road homicide and likely induce it in others (not that I'd know about that). They dart in and out of lanes with machine gun-like rapidity and don't give a rat's asterisk whom they have to mow down to achieve their objective. And heavens forfend if they get behind vehicles in the slow lane that they cannot pass. Then they put on their intimidation suits and ride so close to the other cars' bumpers that the drivers can likely feel the fetid breath of the Reaper upon their necks.

It was one of this last type of drivers that drove me to more mental rather than oral mutterings... and ultimately to this post. On a day about a year and a half ago, one of these maniacs decided to dart out in front of me, which resulted in me saying (I thought inaudiably at the time), "Rat bastard." No sooner did those words reach the elephantine hearing of my younger son than I was treated to an endless chorus of, "Rat bastard," for the next five miles.

He rolled it around in his mouth.

He savored it.

He set it to song.


Upon the completion of the operatic version of "Il Rattus Illegitimus," we arrived at his daycare. I humbled myself and let his teacher know of my unfortunate utterance, and I both cringed and laughed uproariously the rest of the way to work.

From that point on, each time I was tempted to let a colorful phrase fly, I remembered that episode. I also realized it could have been much worse, as "Rat bastard," is sadly pretty mild for my unfortunate vocabulary. I also got lucky that the Shortest Spawn forgot the joy in his opera once he saw his friends.

Really, it's much safer for me to blog about these things rather than risk actual speech.