Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Most Dangerous Drive in America

What's the most dangerous drive in America? The first answer that pops into my mind is interstate 95 from Richmond to Portland, Maine. Having driven it over thirty times in my life, I can attest to its white-knuckled, edge of your seat qualities. But, an equally compelling case can be made for the beltway around our nation's capital, or rush hour in Atlanta or Los Angeles. However, I have come to the conclusion that the most dangerous place to be in a car is in the parking lot of a big box hardware store on a Saturday morning, anywhere in America.

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day here in Short Pump after a week of dismal cloudiness. Lowe's hardware was the place to be for every handyman homeowner on a mission. And that's the thing...make no mistake, when we homeowners find ourselves with a sunny Saturday on our hands, we most definitely are on a mission. We are going to finish that project today even if it kills us, and the way we sling our cars around in the parking lot, getting killed seems like a reasonable expectation. See, it's only ten o'clock but we are already behind schedule. Who knew we were out of Tiki fuel? And, we could have sworn we had plenty of that mold and mildew remover that you hook the water hose to and spray on the front steps to remove that gross black stuff. But nooooo, somebody threw it away!!

Anyway, there I was yesterday picking up a few mission-essentials at the hardware store. Upon completing my purchase, I walked through the parking lot towards my car when the peaceful calm of suburbia was interrupted by the loud screech of tires, an angry horn and a stream of profanity. Some knucklehead had backed out of his space in too big of a hurry and had nearly impaled a senior citizen with an opened box of aluminum siding sticking way too far out of the back of his truck. Meanwhile, a woman in a Suburban had almost hit them both while talking on her cell phone and driving entirely too fast. Incidentally, why is it that when women use the F bomb, it sounds so much more lethal? This was near death experience number one, and I was still fifty yards from my car.

Then I saw a late model Ford Taurus with several sheets of plywood on its roof precariously secured with a few bungee chords and the driver's left hand. This sort of vehicle always warrants special attention in a hardware store parking lot, since these guys are always in a huge ball-crushing rush. Sure enough, Pedro had miscalculated the size, weight and displacement of his load and as soon as he made the first big turn, the plywood began to shift, snapping the bungee chords and slinging across the asphalt towards an incoming Tahoe. Again, profanities were exchanged.

At this point, I'm thinking of the old saw about how bad things come in threes. I get in my car determined to drive as defensively as possible. I check my mirrors, adjust my seat belt and say a quick prayer, "Lord, if you get me out of this parking lot alive, I swear I won't ever complain about how boring church is ever again...this month!"

I ease the CTS out of my space, and make my way slowly, very slowly towards the stop sign in the distance, when suddenly some guy driving a Volvo stuffed full of flowering plants obscuring his vision backs out of his space within a foot of my front bumper! I stand on the horn and scream out my own brand of anger, which if I recall went something like this, " WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE??? HOLY CRAP, IS EVERYONE IN THIS PARKING LOT ON FREAKING DRUGS??!!"

All of this for a couple of bottles of that mold and mildew remover stuff that hooks onto your water hose so you can spray it on the front steps to remove that gross black stuff.

First world problems.