After five or six long, blasts of a horn, I noticed the honker in the lane next to me on the freeway. This old man drove a dirty, dinged-up, car with the trunk tied shut with frayed rope. Traffic speed was excellent (by L.A. standards) -about 50 m.p.h. When I looked over to discover why this guy’s horn kept sounding, I couldn’t believe my eyes. He pounded his horn, gestured with a fist and yelled (with enough volume to show a fat neck-vein) at every car that pulled in front of him. Each driver that dared to move into his lane triggered another of his tirades -no matter what. Some drivers answered his horn by displaying their longest of fingers, while others just studied their rear view mirror, perplexed, before moving on. I felt sad to see an old man who seemed so angry. Yet the concept of a driver on a crowded, Los Angeles freeway getting an “anger workout” over every car that entered his lane, made me laugh.
I suppose no one enjoys having a car pull in front of them -especially if it’s done unsafely and without signaling. I get annoyed, but I accept “cutters” while driving because it’s far too dangerous and useless to retaliate in anger.
When a person cuts into a standing line it’s more difficult not to confront them. I’ve been the victim of line cheaters. Typically I’ll just let it go. But once in a while, justice happens without my help.
On the way to work I turned into the entrance of a coffee shop. I stopped to yield to a woman walking across the driveway. I could be wrong, but she appeared to slow her pace as she crossed in front of my car. It was as if she used her pedestrian right-of-way to delay me a few moments for no reason. My morning mood wasn’t flowery, so the heel of my hand went to my horn where it hovered. It was close but I resisted the urge to encourage her progress with some sound.
I entered the coffee shop where the “driveway lollygagger” was waiting in one of two parallel lines. I joined the other line. She then began sneaking her way to the middle of both lines. She slid one foot sideways in front of me, and then eased her weight to it ever so subtly. She was fixing it so I was behind her in either line. Had I been the angry old man, the next few moments would have been most colorful. Instead, I silently watched her break the rules.
The customers ahead of her were each committed to their lines. But she attempted to create a line merge to get the first available register. She wanted to guarantee that she was served before me! I stepped to the right, and she moved her purse to her right shoulder and leaned to the right to remain more in front of me. “How can she sleep at night?” I pitied her.
Oh, it’s true she’d entered the coffee shop before me so I had no problem if she ordered first. But she must have noticed that I chose the quicker line and now tried to ruin my advantage by cheating. Why was she so anxious to stay ahead of me in particular?
“Can I help the next person in line?” the cashier at register No. 2 fell for her ploy and she dashed to place her order, nearly tripping over herself.
Moments later when I stepped to my register I noticed that the “line cheater” had not ordered yet. It seems that her cashier (& accomplice) had run out of receipt tape and was immersed in reloading a new roll. Out of the corner of my eye I saw “the cutter” look over at me to see if I had indeed passed her. My eyes narrowed and I pressed up against the counter to make sure she couldn’t try her sneaky foot move and wedge me away from my register.
Her scheme was unraveling. “Give me a large mocha latte!” she blurted -cramming the whole sentence into one fast word.
“One minute, ma’am.” he promised her.
The temptation to place a loud, slow order swept over me but I bit my lip to hold back. Instant justice -this rare immediate karmic reward for her sin was unfolding before me and I didn’t want to interfere.
I ordered my drink, as did the person behind me and then a third person. The “line rule changer” still waited at her “receiptless” cash register, growing more anxious no doubt. Twice I caught her looking at my hands to see if I had been served yet. When my cashier called my name to give me my drink I noticed the cheater’s shoulders droop.
“Ha! Game over, baby,” I reveled in my victory with a loud slurp of my drink.
OK, to be honest, maybe this woman never even saw me. But the point is that we waste too much energy trying to be first all the time. Relax already -or when you’re old you’ll be a grumpy person that tries to keep every car out of your lane.
Tags: Los Angeles