For me, the suburban experience is driving. I live in an island of a condominium complex strategically placed between two towns, just far enough that I can’t really walk to either. So driving it must be, to the store, to work, to the bar, everywhere. For a time I lived in a city and did not have a car, and honestly that is the fondest memory I have of that year. I would walk for days and just look around, or ride the bus or the train and keep up on what people were reading. There were strange characters making paper hats for the whole train car or crazy kids that were just released from school yelling and running around. I even saved a young boy from getting stuck on the train as the doors were closing between him and his father. It was truly an exciting moment. But there are rarely any interesting happenings on the interstates of New Jersey or the over congested roads of the small commuter boroughs here, mostly just inconveniences. I just zip around in my little compact car going mostly unnoticed by the big and powerful eight cylinder kings of the road around me. It’s a 2 door Ford Focus hatchback that I like to say looks like a mini-van if it were put in the dryer, assuming mini-vans are air dry only, and it has become my safety bubble from the dangerous road.
So now my small car and I do our best to weave in and around all the large S.U.V.’s that are clogging the roads. The worst part is that it seems that these are often times the worst drivers. They get the biggest monstrosities of automobiles and completely forget about turn signals. They just sort of drift around aimlessly thinking that they can’t be stopped. In essence it is true. They have become the rolling tyrants of the suburban roads I am forced to call home. But, I ask, could their car’s title be more ironic? I am always staring up at some ridiculous name of the car in front of me. Are you seriously giving that guy sitting there talking on his cell phone crossing over three lanes with no blinker a car called a Navigator? This must be some sort of joke. He has no idea where he is going, how can he call himself a navigator of anything? Maybe an Explorer is ok, but I still like to think that Lewis and Clark did not take to the west with complete reckless abandon. I would be satisfied with some sort of euphemism like the Mercury Drifter. I think that would satisfy the driver and the other people he shares the road with. It has the best of both worlds.
But, for me, the situation is hopeless. I just have to watch as I am rolled all over, turning down the talk radio that I now exclusively listen to, as it has become useless to try to absorb an album of music over fifteen five-minute trips. I am a peasant that can do nothing but give the passing royalty a condescending smile and wave and hope they understand that I am mocking them, but also hope they do not take me too seriously and run me off the road. Because of this fear of disaster you will never see me without a blinker. I have, and will again, use the hand signals. I am not above them. I know the need for communication between drivers is far more important than any conversation I can have on the phone, but that may be just me when on the road, I Focus.