While driving back to the office today after retrieving lunch, I was nearly shattered into my component atoms by a huge, white, mud-splattered Chevy Suburban. It was being driven at approximately Mach 3 by a little old woman with enormous glasses and poofy little old woman hair. She came rocketing out of a side street on my left, intent, no doubt, on squashing me.
I had time to reflect on a passage I had read in the WRX Owner’s Manual several years prior; it warned the reader not to rest his or her arm on the armrests of either of the front doors because said arm might be shattered mercilessly by the side-impact airbags, which explode at several times the speed of light from a hidden pocket in the edge of the seat in the event of a side impact. I wondered whether my arm, which was indeed resting insolently on the armrest, would be damaged more by the airbag or by the two tons of SUV with which my car and my person were about to merge.
Luckily, I possess the lightning fast reflexes of a methed up mongoose: in spite of all this reflecting I was able to mash the brake pedal and jerk the wheel in time to avoid (just barely) the old woman’s determined attempt to obliterate me. Breathing a sigh of relief and lifting my defiant left arm from its deadly resting place, I pounded angrily on the horn.
Unfortunately, having been caught up in reflexions and evasive maneuvers, I had failed to predict that upon hearing my angry honking the old woman would slam on her brakes. Which, of course, she did, thus causing me to reflect on another passage in the WRX Owner’s Manual describing the facial damage and finger breakage likely to occur if the steering wheel airbag—also eagerly awaiting a chance to burst forth at speeds suitable for interplanetary travel—were to be triggered by a head-on collision such as the one I was about to enjoy. Yet it appeared that my hyperactive mongoose reflexes were still in effect: once again I managed to brake and swerve, narrowly avoiding death and/or dismemberment. So narrowly, in fact, that I’m fairly certain the only thing separating my front bumper from the old woman’s rear bumper was her “Bush/Cheney ‘04” bumper sticker.
While pondering the advisability of using the horn again (I worried that perhaps it would inspire the old woman to shift into reverse and make another pass) I was astonished by the emergence of an old, wrinkled arm from the Suburban’s window, and on the end of the arm an old, wrinkled middle finger. I made a quick survey of my glovebox but, finding no projectile weapons, tried to satisfy myself by imagining that I had found one and had used it to liberate the old, wrinkled middle finger from its old, wrinkled owner. While I imagined these things, the old woman slowly made her way into the parking lot of my office building. I followed warily, keeping a sharp eye out for any further old woman shenanigans.
Finally satisfied that the old woman had abandoned her desire to kill me, I parked, gathered up my scattered tacos, and walked into the building.
There, not five feet in front of me, stood the wrinkled, poofy-haired, generously bespectacled old woman, clutching her old, wrinkled purse as she perused the building’s tenant listing. She paid no attention to me as I walked past her, not even when I paused briefly and considered the advantages and disadvantages of throwing one or both of my tacos at her; but just when I thought I had avoided all temptation she said, “Sir?”
I stopped and turned around, expecting—and looking forward to—being told off for having had the audacity to presume that my little sports car had a right to occupy the section of road that her beefy SUV had clearly intended to occupy itself, but she merely smiled and said, “Could you tell me how to get to suite 251?”
I stared at her for a moment and then, realizing that she had absolutely no inkling that I was the same person she had nearly crushed into a bloody pulp with her earlier antics, I said, “251? Sure. That’s on the second floor, far side of the building. Just walk through these doors, across the courtyard, through that entrance way over there, go up the stairs, take a right, a left, go to the end of the hall, and you’ll be there.”
“Oh my,” she cried. “Is it that far?”
“Could I drive there, do you think?”
“I doub…I mean, sure, there’s another parking lot over there.” I nearly choked on the sarcastic response I had withheld.
“Oh good. Walking is such a chore at my age, you know. Thank you very much.”
She shuffled out to her death-chariot to drive a hundred yards or so to the side parking lot, while I walked up the stairs just in front of me, past suite 251, and to my office, where I sat and ate my tacos while enjoying the thought of that old, wrinkled menace trying to find an empty space in the crowded front parking lot and then plodding slowly and wrinkledly up the stairs (there’s no elevator on that side of the building) and down the long, winding hallway to suite 251; a mere hop and a skip from where she had stood earlier, but a veritable pilgrimage from the entrance to which I had sent her.
Those were some yummy tacos.