Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Driving me Mad

I had to drive today. I had to go to a suburb today. I had to go to a jail today. I had to visit another punk kid today. I had to drive to a suburb to visit a punk kid in jail today.

Dear Lord. I still can’t believe that people willingly make this type of commute every friggin’ day. I left my office a little after 2:00, spent less than a half an hour with the punk and returned just before 7:00pm. Total miles: 83. This includes me picking up and dropping off the rental car (<2 blocks from my office).

Some of the people in the office were cracked up when they heard that I would have to drive–there previously were questions whether I would ever agree to do this. Today the office was crazy-busy with other peoples’ cases–so I didn’t even try to whine my way out of it. Still, it turned my tummy.

I haven’t driven since X-mas (maybe Thanksgiving–but I think I drove over X-mas, too). I demanded the smallest car possible with the most insurance at the rental agency. I was surly and whiney and the chick suggested that if I was nervous about driving then maybe I should drive a ‘safer’ SUV. I was too disgusted by this comment/blatant up-sell attempt to voice my opinion, but my glare shut her up just as well. As expected, the car was also an automatic–which I hate driving and feel even less confident than if I were at least driving a stickshift.

I hit the horrible highway and barely budged. I didn’t know this particular branch of the highway, so I didn’t know what city streets to take instead. For the first six miles I only once got up to 20 miles an hour, but normally it was between 5-10. I definitely could have biked out of the city faster. It was horrible.

Back when I owned a car, driving was much more fun for me. I rarely drove it, but when I did it was to get out of the city and visit my friends in Wisconsin. Usually I was excited about the trip and happy to get to my destination. Not the case today. Plus, my car was painted Leopard print, so the reaction of my fellow road-users was fun and amusing. The boring Dodge Neon didn’t bring anyone joy or surprise today. Additionally, I was too surly to even consider flashing my never-fail ‘merging smile’ so I had to try to wriggle into spots without the help of other drivers. Grrrr.

The visibility of this car also blew. The headrests were solid instead of having the cut-out I was used to peaking through, and the space between the side windows and the rear window created a huge blind spot. Turning to look over my shoulder was pointless–my mirrors gave me a much better view. I also felt too short in this car. I couldn’t see the nose of the car and the trunk partition was too high for me to see well out the rear window (the rearview mirror provided a better view, once again). What a shitty design.

At one point I attempted to roll down my window to enjoy a breeze on my skin. I quickly realized that it was a horrible idea: the 95 degree weather being quite hot, the air filled with nasty exhaust and the rumble of engines was just too unpleasant. So I did my best to hide: I rolled the windows back up, cranked the air conditioning and blasted the radio. Unfortunately nothing could be done about the view or my speed. So I crept along with the others until I was finally able to drive a reasonable speed once we were far enough away from the city.

The police station/jail also blew. Not really much to say because of confidentiality/privilege. One thing I didn’t appreciate was when the guards took about three to four minutes each time to come release me from the locked room I shared with my juvenile delinquent. Hmmm....he’s 17 years old, about a foot taller than me and being charged with a violent felony. You’ve been keeping him in solitary because he has been ‘acting out’ and ‘causing problems’. Maybe, just maybe, you should stay close enough to react quickly if he tries to cause me harm. Three to four minutes feels pretty long when locked in a small room with an angry criminal. Then again, I’m not a cop–so what do I know about safety precautions?

I hate the police stations. I hate having to pretend that I am completely confident and competent–because when it comes to criminal law–I Am Not. I hate the assumption that I am a social worker and the surprise and subsequent attitude when I correct them by saying that I am an attorney. I hate the powerplay when they ask for my attorney’s ID and the questioning look they continue to give me–the same fucking look bouncers gave me when I was younger and they didn’t seem to believe that I was old enough to enter. It makes me want to smack them, because I feel like they are accusing me of lying and expect me to confess that I am not an attorney–who lies about that? No matter how much I hate it, I know better than to smack an armed police officer. Then I hate meeting the clients/punks themselves. Once again, I have to act like I know what is going on–these kids generally have far more experience with police/courts than I do. I hate being locked in rooms with there glazed over eyes and tightly wound bodies. I hate knowing that there is damn little I can do for them. I hate thinking about what crimes they have seen, what crimes have been committed against them, what crimes they have committed already, and what crimes they are yet to commit.

Back on the road–it starts pouring. The cars are engulfed not only in the spray from their tires, but from the steam coming off of the hot pavement. People drive like assholes. I continue dorking along. The whole situation is disgusting and once again the road clogs up about 20 miles from Chicago. Who the hell are these people? Why are they driving into the city at this time. Singing loudly and angrily to the radio even lost its appeal eventually. [thankfully the playlist was appropriate: Metallica, Pantera, Guns & Roses, Rage Against the Machine, Chevelle, Disturbed, Staind–good angry teenage-boy music to match my mood]. I hated my fellow drivers.

No one looked happy. People jockeyed for spots and jack-rabbited for the slightest improvement in position. Many people were smoking and I saw two cigar smokers throw their stogies out onto the road. Lots of people were talking on handheld cellphones (illegal in Chicago). Fucktards.

There were many, many times–still outside of Chicago–that we were completely stopped for periods of time. I considered just turning the car off and starting to walk. People would be so pissed at me for stopping my car in the lane, but the thought amused me. I really wanted to just get out and move instead of being trapped in my cage. Then I started thinking about other annoying things to do.

For some reason my mind latched onto the completely repulsive idea of rolling down a window, yanking out my tampon and tossing it at a vehicle. This thought amused me for many, many miles. I tried to find my perfect target: obviously it had to be a jackoff who deserved getting a bloody tampon thrown at them. Beyond that I thought a white vehicle would be nice to hit–or a vehicle with an open window–or an open-bed pick-up. I wondered how good my aim would be through the passenger window–could I really expect to get it into the bed of a truck or into the passenger compartment of a car? Not likely, but how would I know if I didn’t try? Thankfully the traffic sped up before a jagoff holding a cigarette through his open window of his white Hummer didn’t pull up alongside me. I honestly don’t think I could have resisted. One day of driving and look at how violent and antisocial I become!

Honestly, as gross as this idea is, I am still enthralled by it. My aim would be much better while on a bike. Roll up alongside a vehicle that just did me wrong, reach up my skirt to remove tampon and fling it by its string through an open window and onto the lap of a dude who just yelled something foul and sexual to me. God that would be awesome. Especially since I could use my nimble bike to get the Fuck Out of There.

Would that make the nasty man think twice before yelling shit at women on the street again?
Would actually tell his boss/coworkers/friends how the blood got on his pants.
Would he scream like a girl?

Assuming I could exit the situation safely–is there a problem with this idea?

So anyway, a delightful morning that began biking to the farmers' markets with vegans ends with me considering assaulting people with bloody projectiles--all because of driving to visit a punk in a jail in a suburb.

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