On the invariably crowded Bus13 at rush hour, I happened to be standing next to people crushed against one another. At one point, the bus driver abruptly braked. There was a chain reaction. Many passengers toppled towards the front of the bus. A woman bumped against me. I lost my footing (I am unfortunately adept at doing that in many situations) and I without warning stepped onto the big toe of a man sitting next to me. I expected a grimace and perhaps a curse. Instead, he ferociously bit into the handle of his satchel until the pain subsided.
I profusely apologized for the accident. In a subdued voice, he said that he didn’t blame me. Then he explained that I had inadvertently reinjured his big toe. Earlier in the day he had crushed that same toe when a sofa that he was moving had fallen on it. He was more upset with himself for his blunder than he was with me. I commiserated with him and thanked him for being so gracious to me. I myself might not have been that kind. He was such a mensch—unlike the monster I met that afternoon on my way to the airport.
A minute after I left my condo, I got caught in unusually heavy traffic. I decided to cross over to the right lane. Looking out the rear view mirror and side view mirror (including the tiny oval mirror embedded in the side-view mirror), I saw a small opening. That was a miscalculation.
Evidently, I had not given the car that I snuck in front of enough room. The driver swerved to my left and shook his fist at me. I just shrugged. Wrong move! Instantly, I heard a thud against my luckily closed window. When I looked, I saw that the man had flung a giant tomato or some other kind of oversized fruit that was oozing down the side of my car. I was appalled and unnerved but thankful that the embittered man had opted not to throw a brick or fire a gun at me.
I slowed down a bit; so did he. All the while he stared at me menacingly. I stared at him innocently. This stalemate continued until I turned into a busy gas station. The man stopped stalking me and drove away. I got much need gas. But even if my tank were already full, I would have gone there for a semblance of camouflage. Before I pulled away, I wiped off most of the fruit dribbling on my window and on the body of the car itself. The rest of my trip to the airport was uneventful.
For a couple of days, I couldn’t wipe out the image of that fierce face of road rage. But now in retrospect, the incident seems a bit absurd. Considering that no car was damaged and no one was hurt, the man’s revenge was almost comical. He threw a tomato at me as if my performance was wretched. And perhaps it was. Ok, my bad.
I have a solution: I need to buy a car with lots of navigation sensors. Maybe then I would be able to avoid near collisions. Otherwise I might need a front seat and a back seat driver to help me contend with lane shifting in Honolulu. Or perhaps I could consult a shapeshifter.