I’m not bad, I’m just misunderstood.

Driving around downtown is a good way to spike your blood pressure, dirty up your vocabulary, and just generally make you wish that you could take everyone else’s licenses away. I’m sure that there are perfectly sane, totally normal people driving on these streets, but I can’t see them through the thundering herd of hostiles who all seem to be practicing for the day when Mad Max becomes a real thing.

I feel bad for the people who are obviously terrified of driving downtown. They’re easily spotted: they won’t go faster than 20 mph, they change lanes so carefully and slowly that they jam up the traffic in two lanes, and they panic every time a bus does that thing where they sort of pull over, but not really, because they don’t want to have to fight their way back into traffic after they pick up that one guy standing at the bus stop.

Then there are the jaywalkers. FYI, I don’t hate all of you. Just the ones who cross against the light and prevent people in cars from making legal turns on red. Well, anyone who crosses against a light, period. Especially people who wait until the two count to step into the street, and then walk as slowly as possible while everyone waiting on them goes berserk. Also, the ones who have their faces buried so far into their phones that they blithely step out into traffic without so much as glancing up.

But I digress.

I try to set off into the streets with a good attitude, but it’s usually gone sour by the time I’ve inched my way down the block and around the corner. Yesterday, I was improbably cheerful despite the grey truck that kept weaving in and out of lanes like he was trying to outmaneuver a heat-seeking missile. I hardly batted an eye when the Prius jammed his brakes on and decided that he really really needed to turn right from the left-hand lane. I was even cheerful when the cop stopped me.

I have a number of routes mapped out in my head, and I usually pick the streets that seem the least crazy as I go along. Two of them pass by parking garages that regularly have cops posted outside after five. They stop traffic in order to let the poor garage dwellers into traffic occasionally; if they didn’t, most of them probably wouldn’t get out of there until after sundown. They’d just sit there, getting pale from lack of sunlight, bitterness twisting them into unrecognizable shapes. Eventually, they would abandon their cars and slouch down into the sewers to dine on rats and the occasional stray tourist.

I hit a bit of a lull in traffic yesterday evening, so when I made a right on a red, I was the only car for half a block in either direction. For downtown, that’s like wandering out into the desert. I moved immediately into the left lane just as I saw the cop for one of the garages step into that lane, halfway down the street.

No sweat. I was still eerily cheerful, bopping and singing along to my playlist, so rather than try to evade him and go around, I slowly came to a stop and waited while he released a bunch of desperate people from the garage.

When I said “bopping” before, I meant it. I was bouncing a little, head-bopping from side-to-side, singing. About thirty seconds after I’d stopped the car, the cop glanced at me.

About fifteen seconds after that, he glanced at me again.

After the fourth glance (and the third car, because holy crap were those people moving slowly), he stopped glancing and turned to face me. Now, rather than watching the cars coming out of the garage, waving them forward, and just casting an occasional glance my way, he’s instead watching me and waving the cars out of the garage while only occasionally glancing at them.

I thought, Good grief, this guy is paranoid. I’m clearly in a good mood. I’m singing, I’m bopping, my windows are closed, my music isn’t too loud… I mean, geez, this is as nonthreatening as I get!

Then I checked my rearview, but nope – the road behind me was clear, so it wasn’t a case of some shifty-looking character behind me catching the guy’s attention.

He let another car through, and then he moved out of the lane, waving me forward and giving me a hard-neutral stare in the process. I waved back cheerfully and joined the flow of traffic toward the intersection, still wondering why the heck that guy was being so weird.

Then it hit me.

See, I was listening to my Saint’s Row playlist, which basically consists of songs you can hear on the various radio stations throughout the games (plus a few that I think should have been included).

That song I’d been singing and bopping along to?

It was Marilyn Manson’s “Arma-Goddamn-Motherfuckin-Geddon”.

If that poor cop has even the most rudimentary of lip-reading skills (and I have to assume that he does), then he wasn’t seeing happy commuter, he was seeing a batshit-crazy person who appeared to be nonstop cussing him out whilst behaving like a rabid bobblehead.

I know, I know — this should have been immediately apparent to me, but it really wasn’t. I focus on the road, and on traffic, not on the music. Even when I’m singing a song, I’m not really hearing it. It doesn’t have my attention.


Sorry, dude. I really was just chilling, I swear.



Image by Tama66 on Pixabay (effects added).