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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
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A Shitbox Showdown

I was driving home from work today when another car came speeding up behind me, fast. We were on a large street — two lanes in each direction, and stop signals every so often — but traffic was light at that time of evening.

I was cruising to a stop at a red light as the guy came barrelling toward me. A few dozen yards behind my car, he gunned the motor to outrace a car in the next lane, swerved suddenly around him, and pulled up beside me at the light. Then he iiiiiinched forward, to gain an edge on sliding into my lane in front of me when the light turned green.

“Anyone willing to risk their own life by pushing a thirty-year-old engine that hard on a public street is clearly a camshaft short of a carburetor already.”

Now, I won’t lie to you — I’m a pretty aggressive driver. If you don’t have a bit of bravado while you’re driving the streets of Boston, this city will eat you up and shit you out a tailpipe. But there’s no call for the sort of overzealous, near-miss, ‘damn the torpedoes!‘ style of driving the fellow beside me was displaying. It’s one thing to be aggressive; it’s another to take advantage needlessly.

And it really pisses me off.

So, I started iiiiinching forward myself, planning to match the guy horsepower for horsepower and hold my position in my lane. Why should he be in front of me? He doesn’t own this lane, the cheeky bastard. This is mah house!

(Kids, please don’t try this driving attitude at home. I’m what you call ‘jaded’, from many years’ experience of driving while surrounded by lobotomized drooling assholes.

Also, if you try this sort of thing in Drivers’ Ed, your teacher will likely pimpslap you into the dashboard. Take my word for it — glove compartments sting, dammit.)

I watched as the light for the cross traffic turned yellow, and prepared to defend my lane against the automotive interloper beside me. It was then that I glanced over at the car next to me, and saw something that stopped my twinklytoes mere inches above the accelerator:

The car was a shitbox. A bona fide, rusted-out, hood-dented, bumper-missing, half-painted, ‘My Other Car Is a Porsche bumper sticker-wearing Shitbox. With a capital ‘S’. One hubcap. Garbage bags over the passenger window. ‘WASH ME’ clearly visible on the hood, near the chromed nub of an amputated hood ornament.

That changed everything. You see, the Boston area is chock full of rich, cocky jerkwads. You’ll see them flitting their BMWs and Mercedes — and yes, their Porsches — in and out of traffic, racing stop lights, bending rules, and generally being a gigantic pain in the gas tank. It’s these people that I derive immense satisfaction from by cutting off, driving like a cataracted grandma in front of, and otherwise preventing from annoying the living shit out of the rest of road-travelling society. Call it a ‘public service’, if you will.

(Though, to be fair, I haven’t gotten this much perverse pleasure out of a ‘good deed’ since that old lady I once helped across the street introduced me to her granddaughters, home from college for the summer.

Her twin granddaughters, home from college for the summer. Someone called for a lotion boy?)

Certainly, giving one of those trust fund flapjacks his or her vehicular comeuppance is well worth the effort and gasoline spent. But the shitbox driver — that’s a whole different breed of belligerent. Because the guy or gal driving a late-model 5-series Beemer will, if pressed, back off and grudgingly follow the road rules of polite society. Mustn’t scratch Daddy’s lease investment, must we?

The shitbox driver, though, has nothing to lose. He’s driving an early-80’s compact Toyota Tercel sedan, with no hubcaps, a trunk that won’t close, and a cassette player that works as long as he’s not in third gear. How much worse would his life get, really, if he ran my self-righteous ass into oncoming traffic?

I’m thinking ‘none’ is approximately the answer, so I make it a rule not to screw around with these people. Anyone willing to risk their own life by pushing a thirty-year-old engine that hard on a public street is clearly a camshaft short of a carburetor already. Am I gonna be the one who pushes him to ‘postal’? With my insurance premiums? Masshole, please.

Back on the road, our light turned green, and I had a choice. Let the persnickety asshat have his way and cut in front, or surge forward to try and keep pace with him.

I didn’t surge.

I didn’t keep pace.

I merely moved off the line at a sane, steady speed, and watched as the jackass pedalled his metal, lurched into my lane, and sped far, far ahead. As he smoked and sputtered his way toward the horizon, I thought I saw parts falling randomly from the chassis. A muffler here, a rearview mirror there — who knows how much of the car was left when he actually reached whereever he was in such a hurry to get to?

As for me, I made it safely — albeit quite a bit more slowly — home. And thanked my lucky dipstick that I’d remembered the ‘First Rule of Driving Among Imbeciles’:

Whatever the sign, the signal, or the traffic laws may say —

The jackass in the rusty shitbox always has the right of way.

And that’s all you really need to know. Drive safe now, kids.

Permalink  |  3 Comments

3 Responses to “A Shitbox Showdown”

  1. RRaccoon says:

    Awesome and true.

  2. Elisson says:

    Another classic from “The Mad Hatton.”

    You did the right thing, Charlie, my brothah. Guy probably was uninsured, and there’s no point in taking on a POS that wouldn’t look a whole lot different if it got T-boned at 50 MPH.

  3. Goth Bunnyy says:

    Truer words were never spoken. I must admit I take advantage of that rule since my beloved “big-ass-sedan” had been in a few accidents and I haven’t had the scratch to get the needed body work done. But I must say, if you have a few dents in the body, people will let you merge easier. I guess it says “get out of my way, because I *will* hit you if I need to.”


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