I read this in a book once: “Sometimes it seems the universe wants to be noticed.” In my case, this sentiment is most apparent whenever I get behind the wheel of a car. I think the universe occasionally likes to send me a reminder that it’s watching..always watching. There’s no other rational explanation for the following list. The fact that I am able to compile such a list at all should be a testament to the universe’s sense of humor.
Without further ado, I give you Things That Have Flown At/Onto/Into My Car:
I live in Los Angeles. Tumbleweeds don’t exist here, unless it’s maybe being used as a prop for a movie. It’s one of those mythical things about LA, like how it’s illegal to lick a toad within city limits (sounds made up but it’s actually true). Even though they don’t actually exist, it’s still possible to be driving along and find yourself in the path of a giant tumbleweed the size of your car. Sometimes it follows you for a bit before drifting away; other times there’s nothing to do but let it roll and bounce across your path before disappearing into the sunset.
Afterward, you wonder if it really happened. Or maybe you just wandered too close to a movie set.
I’m still baffled as to how it managed to fly in through my window. I wasn’t necessarily speeding (ahem) but I don’t think I was moving slowly enough for anything to fly into my car unless it was purely accidental…which I suppose this may have been. I could convince myself that was true if it weren’t for the fact that I was clearly more distressed by this turn of events than the bee was.
It sailed down and landed calmly in my lap as if this was what it had planned all along. For long, tense minutes, I alternated between hoping it would fly away on its own—can you shoo a bee without getting stung?—and hoping it wouldn’t decide to sting me just for my terrible driving. It finally did fly away, but not before my leg started cramping from the effort of keeping still so as not to agitate the bee. Let me just say that it did not do wonders for my driving.
Yes, really. I had previously imagined this only happened to people who insist on driving through the roads less traveled…those dirt paths meant for wildlife and not motor vehicles. Evidently this is not the case. The universe clearly has a sense of whimsy when it comes to where and when it decides to strike.
I was on a fully paved city road, following all traffic laws (mostly), when out of nowhere a peacock flew across my windshield. (Note: I kind of thought peacocks were flightless birds? Hauling their formidable feathers around seems quite a daunting task when airborne. Maybe it wasn’t actually a peacock per se, just a really convincing facsimile.) This was technically neither at, onto, or into my vehicle, but it was close enough that I could see individual plumage and had I not for once had the reflexes of an indie car driver, that bird would now be a permanent hood ornament.
I still have no idea where it came from. Ok, fine. Maybe I was kind of up in the hills where a pony or two have been known to gallop across the crosswalk. But it was by no means the rustic countryside where one expects to find exotic avian friends. The roads were paved! Is that not an indication that cars are expected at some point?
I suppose it’s not the peacock’s fault. How is it expected to know that paved roads means cars are probably going to be coming through? I’m glad the bird was unharmed..but it didn’t freak me out any less.
Let’s think about this for a minute. I was hit with a paintball while driving. Technically not me, my car…but still. It came perilously close to being me, but thanks to some powers of premonition I didn’t realize I possessed, I’d decided to roll up my windows seconds before the bright orange projectile made contact.
At the time I was just happy to retain control of my vehicle and thankful that the window hadn’t shattered from the impact. Afterward, I was really pissed. Because afterward was when I realized somebody had shot paintballs at my car on the freeway. Paintballs. At my car. ON THE FREEWAY. I likely wasn’t the only one hit that day, which makes it even worse.
Who does that?? This is the kind of inane stupidity you hope would be weeded out by natural selection.
|| This is where the sense of humor thing starts becoming more apparent. ||
I know what it is to be navigationally-challenged. I’m one of those people who require left/right turning instructions (preferably in conjunction with street names and landmarks) as opposed to cardinal directions. When someone starts saying things like “head north off the exit” it comes out sounding much like the adults in the Charlie Brown cartoons, muffled and utterly incomprehensible. That combination of words used in this context have no meaning for me.
I used to think navigationally-challenged and directionally-challenged were the same thing. They are not. This fact was made clear when I was driving home one night and saw headlights speeding at me…not from behind, but head on. This took me a minute to process. At first I thought that maybe I was the one facing the wrong direction (because sadly, that could totally happen).
The rational thing to do in this case would have been to immediately pull over in an attempt to avoid collision with the maniac playing chicken on the freeway. But this is me we’re talking about. So naturally, I froze in the beams of the oncoming headlights with my foot still firmly planted on the accelerator. At the last minute the car spun a donut in front of what was now a row of communally braking cars—thankfully the freeway was pretty deserted at 3am—and then sped off, miraculously facing the right direction this time.
Was it possible they didn’t know they were traveling in the wrong direction until faced with a line of headlights? I drove home afterward thinking: that actually happened? Having no sense of direction has taken on a whole new meaning.
Ok, really? I wasn’t even driving when this happened.
I had just parked and stepped out when suddenly I saw someone careening toward my car..and by extension, me. His grimace and wildly gesticulating limbs indicated he was upset. This would seem to be cause for some concern. I stood there in a kind of suspended animation watching his approach (this is pretty much my go-to reaction whenever anything comes speeding in my direction).
Evidently he was upset that I had parked on what he claimed was his property. I tried to find the logic in this accusation since I had parked on the street. Right next to an obviously public curb complete with signpost denoting all city parking regulations, none of which I was violating. I checked. I always check. Which is why I was befuddled by his reaction.
My confusion must have been apparent because he then proceeded to raise his voice and over-enunciate his words as if I were 1) hard of hearing and/or 2) a foreigner incapable of comprehending the English language. Seriously? The obvious racial implications not withstanding, I was not encroaching on his property as claimed.
Having someone angrily berate me with false accusations does not generally go over well. In spite of this, I still attempted to handle the situation like a rational person (the wisdom of which I would later come to question). I responded by calmly—in my own estimation—letting him know that while he may own the home and the lot it’s sitting on, the sidewalk and street were public property and he therefore had no legal grounds for demanding that I move my car.
What I really wanted to do was punch him in the throat. It was fiendishly satisfying to imagine a well-placed blow to the pharynx rendering him incapable of speech. This probably wasn’t the best idea, though, considering I was visiting friends and the lunatic in question turned out to be their neighbor. In hindsight, however, the punch in the throat would have been more effective. I could have been dancing around him in tap shoes launching pyrotechnics out of my shirt for all the good it did trying to talk to him like a normal person.
He got progressively louder and more belligerent the longer I remained parked in front of his house. In the end, my friends appeared and asked me in a resigned sort of way to please move my car. This, in their experience, was infinitely easier than trying to make him understand reason. I complied..but I did it as grudgingly as possible. I do not enjoy giving in to unreasonable demands.
A few days later that same neighbor apologized to my friends for being rude to me. Let’s be clear: he did not apologize for being a completely illogical tool, just that he may have spoken to me rudely while trying to explain to me why I was in the wrong. Seriously? You don’t own the roads, you miserable cretin. And yes, you complete ignoramus, I speak English.
It occurs to me that I have a lot of odd encounters on the freeway. This one involved a tire that had somehow become dislodged (I’m still a little blurry on the exact details…did it come off a car? Or did a truck that was transporting tires lose one along the way?) and wound up bouncing down the freeway, gaining altitude as it went. I had no idea a car tire could bounce so high.
Other cars immediately began braking and drivers craned their necks to see the intermittently airborne object heading toward us. I, as per the usual, kept driving while wondering what the other drivers were looking at. When I finally saw it, I still kept driving because…well, mostly because I wasn’t sure how to avoid it, but also because what was the best way to avoid an object whose path was unpredictable, really?
Turns out you just had to keep driving. And keeping an eye on the tire until you were fairly certain you were safely out of its path. I didn’t see what happened to the tire after I’d driven past it but I like to think it finally came to rest somewhere and was purposefully installed with three of its mates on a car that is even now flying down the freeway.
So yes, Universe. I see you there watching. On occasion I can even hear you chuckling at your own comedic brilliance. And while I sometimes question your methods, I get it. I really do.