They say that women become their mothers. I disagree. I'm fairly certain that I am becoming my father.
There are days when my road rage spirals out of control. I'm pretty sure we all have days like that, but I'm concerned. I'm having them more and more often. I'm finding that just about every work day while doing battle with the Southern California freeways I lose my cool. I had a moment this week when I realized that I'm becoming my father.
My father is an impatient person. He's a fantastic father and a wonderful human being, but he is as impatient as the day is long. He walks fast, he works fast, he drives fast. Back when he was working, one of his colleagues gave him a little roadrunner sticker for his briefcase as a joke. It was very fitting. He stuck it right on and had a good laugh about it. I'm pretty sure it's still in a closet somewhere in the house. He carried his roadrunner with pride.
This is a man who can be in the depths of an important conversation one moment, only to erupt with a string of profanities cursing the slow driver who just moved over into the fast lane ahead of him the next. It was like flipping a switch.
“Yes honey, I think that it would be a very good idea to take that new job, they offer health benefits....MOVE IT $%&*@$ HEAD! Besides, the commute won't be all that bad.”
Boom! Just like that. Just like shifting gears. He'd would pop it into overdrive and let the elderly man in the old Cadillac in front of us have it like machine gunfire as he gunned the engine and passed him by. As quickly as he pulled the trigger, he would ease back on the accelerator and come back to our conversation without skipping a beat. It was impressive to say the least. I was left speechless.
The man has a very colorful vocabulary, but he does have a select few that seem to be his go-to favorites. Don't we all? They generally have hard consonant sounds and tend to come in interchangable combinations. You know the ones. I'm pretty sure I learned the really good curse words from him, kind of like Ralphie from The Christmas Story who picked up the mother of all curse words from overhearing his father doing battle with the furnace in the basement. I learned mine on the road. Oddly enough, that seems to be the only place I use them, at least the really good ones that is.
Surprisingly, when the time came for me to learn how to drive, my father became the most patient man in the world. He carefully and painstakingly reviewed the functions of each switch, lever and pedal. He taught me how to put gas in the tank, how to check the oil and add washer fluid, how to change a flat tire. We went to shopping malls at 6 o'clock in the morning on Sundays when no one was around so that I could learn to accelerate smoothly and stop at stop signs. It was a great place to practice parallel parking. I think most importantly, it was a safe place for me to make mistakes. He would calmly correct them and help me understand what I had done wrong. I quickly went from being afraid of disappointing my father to realizing that he wanted me to be a good driver. He wanted me to be safe. I was in the best of hands, regardless of how impatient those hands may be in any other situation.
Like most Southern Californians, I consider myself to be a excellent driver. It's everyone else who can't seem to get out of their own way. We're very insistent upon that. But let's face it kids, we can't all be excellent drivers any more than we can all have good taste and a sense of humor.
I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to all the $%&@#$heads out there, I'm sure you know who you are. It was unkind of me to point out your faults. I certainly would never say these things to your face, so in the future I will strive to focus on your positive attributes. For instance; how you manage to both text on your cell phone and yell at your teenager while you keep your SUV at a steady 35 MPH in the fast lane without swerving. That takes some skill. And to that guy who cuts off two lanes of traffic doing 85 MPH in order to make his off ramp; I'll focus on the fact that you are globally conscious and purchased a hybrid instead of the fact that you just put all of our lives in danger rather than exiting safely at the next one and circling back.
Oh who am I fooling? Anyone? Anyone? I thought not.
I'll accept that I'm becoming my father, I could think of worse people I could be. I am who he raised me to be and if that happens to include some hurling of profanity on the freeway, then so be it. Maybe it's healthy. Maybe by venting my frustrations I'm living a more balanced life. Maybe I'm just making excuses for my own bad behavior. Either way, I've always thought of my dad as a pretty cool guy. And to be honest, I'm sort of looking forward to teasing him when he becomes that old slowpoke in the fast lane.