It was the highway rush hour that is not so much rush that you slow to a crawl, not such a rush that you stop and curse at the world. It was worse. Everyone driving 75 and mostly clueless of what this type of momentum does in vehicles really not designed for mayhem that occurs when you don’t allow humans a time to react and use the brakes to slow the vehicle instead of merely grabbing the wheel and jerking and screaming.
I was in there with them, meditating in the middle lane, and though I should have been, I was not praying to my higher power of the day that day, whatever it was. In conditions like this, I love driving with two pedal feet, my left over the brake pedal, like the race car drivers as it makes for quicker reaction and it’s nicer on old knees when there is lots of stop and go.
There was one of those smaller buses similar to the airport car rental buses, maybe bigger. It was a county bus for senior citizens. He swerved in front of me as if he were Mario Andretti, which left me contemplating if he was late or mad or perhaps both. He had passengers and every one of them had gray or white hair. The top of the bus seemed to be tilting left and right as if it had a driven, directional mind and it was doing it’s best to travel on its side. For an instant, my mind projected that it would be more stable but the old people would be stacked like crates on top of each other laying on the side that was aggressively grinding asphalt.
Things were not good for the bus driver. He decided that the spot in front of me in the middle lane was not to his advantage, and with sudden impulse that fooled everyone, he jerked right. He may not have realized it but there was a small, goofy looking, new-fangled, golf-cart-like car in the space of that right lane that he wanted. He knocked them into the breakdown lane, and as bad fortune would have it, we were on a bridge with perhaps a 60-foot drop on the side and with a guard rail that would only hold a Tonka toy.
There was an old couple in that golf cart thing, and the old man was driving. He had skill because he kept that thing on 4 wheels and started to slow gradually in the breakdown lane. The bus stopped in the emergency lane, and my only supposition was that he was in shock at the amount of carnage he was trying to create. All of our traffic was slowing at the same time, and for whatever odd reason, even though I concluded that the old people would be fine without me checking on them, I moved over when I could and coasted to a slowing stop behind them.
I walked up to the right side of the vehicle, slowly like the cops do, slowly because I did not want to scare them. That damn cart was full open air with four small aluminum rods holding up a roof, which to me looked more like it would act as a parachute or a stabilizer wing. As I came to the side with no door but a simple opening like a golf cart, I leaned forward and twisted my head toward the lady. Oh, she had the sweetest disposition as if they had just pulled in to the coffee shop parking lot for morning tea. The old man looked a bit more tense but he smiled in a way that lead me to believe he had lived many lives.
I asked, “Are you okay?” How lame is that?
“Oh, sure, sure!” His was the only verbal response and he was nodding up and down fairly vigorously, while she was nodding perhaps twice as fast.
“What kind of car is this?” As I asked, I looked down and there was the most cheap looking artificial grass skirt stretched all the way around the frame of the thing. Artificial grass just like you’d find at the cheap courses that don’t maintain natural grass on their driving ranges. I walked around the front and then up the driver’s side. My mouth was seriously agape at the fact that there was not any type of scratch on the thing. It surely wasn’t magic. I reached down and felt the dimpled metal shell and I supposed it was very tough.
The old man hopped out and waved me to the back, completely ignoring the blurs of insane people driving their weapons of choice within 12 feet, oddly seeming far more quiet than they should have been. He lifted a large plywood plank high and looked to see my expression, which I am sure was saying, ‘I’ve never seen any thing like this.’
I have no mechanical knowledge. All I could see were pipes, but they looked like the pipes of the plumbing in my house (I do not have enough knowledge or skill to figure those out either).
“How does it work?”
He reached down and pushed on some black rubber thing and everything started chugging like a mixer that was chewing up thick nuts for some sort of pie. He looked up at me, “See?”
I had no fucking idea but I think he thought I was admiring the thing. “Biodegradable?”
“You could say that, more like a circular energy producer.”
Now I was really lost and I nodded my head knowingly, “Mmmmm.”
“Penske,” he said and he grinned proudly as if it were a fine diamond.
“Oh I know who he is, I know Roger.” I went on thinking, the master of auto racing, the dominating force at the Indy 500 every single year, kind of mediocre in NASCAR, but he signs up all of the brash young punks who are seriously talented but who violently offend the sensibilities of society, so I like Roger. “Roger sure did cook a doozy for you,” I said.
“Well if everything is okay here, I think I’ll be getting to work.”
He looked in my eyes and said, “Okay, thanks for stopping.”
I trudged through the thick accumulation of sand from the sand trucks from a long winter of terrible snow storms, questioning why I had any desire to get back to my car. I wondered how I allowed my life to become so boring. I wondered why I wasn’t driving in a golf cart, traveling the country, risking my life, because there’s not much better to do with life.