Sunday, April 8, 2012

Weird Friday...

Friday morning started off just great.  I was at the entrance to our sub-division which sits on the frontage road of I-35, getting ready to pull out so I could make my way to the on-ramp just down the street.  For those not familiar with Texas' system of frontage roads, you basically have a divided highway with traffic flowing at 75MPH and then another road on one or both sides of the highway with traffic going in either one direction or in some cases both directions.  In our case, we have the frontage road with two-way traffic going 55MPH, a small strip of grass, the highway at 75MPH, then another strip of grass and another road with two-way traffic at 55MPH.  There is a sign in my sub-division just before this entrance that says, Dangerous Intersection and I never really understood why, until that morning.

People out here are generally courteous drivers but I have had more than one occasion where I was driving down the frontage road, only to have some jerk pull out in front of me causing me to slam on my breaks.  Keep in mind, this usually happens while it is still dark outside.  What I did not realize until Friday morning is that there is some sort of weird optical illusion caused by the multiple lanes of lights traveling in different directions that causes one to misjudge whether or not the lights coming at them are on the frontage road or on I-35.  It makes no sense, but I fell victim to this little optical illusion that morning.

As I approached the intersection, I was fully awake, no cell phone, no other distractions and I was fully cognizant of the traffic.  At the stop sign, I stopped and as I always do, I looked both directions a few times.  I can't blame this on adjusting to new glasses because I feel pretty comfortable in my lenses by now.  When I pulled onto the frontage road, I realized I was pulling right into the lane of a Jeep coming full speed ahead.  I hit the breaks and stopped.  There was no option of gunning it in hopes of getting across the lane; he was that close.  Trying to back-up was not even a thought.  All I could do is sit there and wait for the guy to hit me and hope that he didn't hit my truck in a way that would cause his Jeep to flip.
 The second or two that the entire incident took place, and me sitting there like a fish in a barrel was apparently just enough time for the driver to realize that he could go around me in the other lane.  His skid marks, still visible after work, show that the guy really laid on the brakes before he almost casually eased around the nose of my truck.  When he passed by me, I waved as if that was some form of guilty plea and apology rolled into one.  Whoever you are Jeep driver, sorry about that and thanks for handling that little situation the way you did.  I'm pretty sure that the outcome would have been a lot worse for you than it would have been for me, and that's not something I'd like to have to live with.

I continued down the road trying to replay how this little misstep had transpired.  Was there a possibility that he was driving with his lights off at first?  No - I would have seen his lights turn on.  Could I have forgotten to look that direction?  Not a chance.  I confess to speeding - a lot, but at intersections, I don't trust anyone and like I said, I look both direction several times.  And yet, there it is, I pulled out in front of someone they same way those jerks at the very next street down the road seem to do to me quite a bit.

And just as I was approaching that next road, just when it looked like a truck was about to pull out onto the frontage road,  I flashed my lights several times to get the guy's attention.  Crazy stuff.

You can't let things like this get to you.  It happens.  But for the rest of the morning at work, there were a series of events that seemed to cause me issues.  I don't even recall what they may have been, so obviously nothing earth shattering.  At some point, I decided to just get out of the office - something I never do - and I went to get my hair cut.

They have these little numbers and if you have a particular barber you prefer, you give your number to that person and then when they are available, as long as your number has been called, you can go to them.  In my case, I don't care who does the cutting.  As soon as my number is called, I take whoever it is.  All at once, there were three or four haircuts finishing up and I began the little game of seeing which barber I would get.  There was one really tall lady who seemed agitated and I got the feeling that she was in a bad mood.  I had hoped that I wouldn't get her.

Another barber, an older Korean woman, called off number 91.  No answer from the crowd.  92.  Nothing.  93.  I stood up and presented her with my ticket.  This lady has cut my hair on several occasions and I was always okay with her performance, so I was pleased.  Just as I sat down, I see this guy stand up and he looks at me holding up his ticket.  He says, "I'm number 92."  I probably could have been a jerk since I was already seated, but I just got up and smiled and made a motion toward the chair.  And of course, the tall crazy lady looks at me and says, "93?"

I don't do the whole talking thing at the barber shop.  Because of my really jacked-up hearing situation, I can hear everything, but when there are multiple conversations and sounds from different directions, I can't understand any of it.  Same situation on an airplane.  If you sit next to me, I'm not trying to be rude, but I just can't understand what you are saying.  So thankfully, the tall crazy lady was not one of the talkative types.  Aside from the instructions about "over the ears, a little off the top and I comb it straight back", there was no need for small talk.

Things were going fine.  I did notice a man sitting in the chairs looking at me - or what I presumed to be at me - several times.  It occurred to me that perhaps he was looking at the lady cutting my hair, and perhaps he had made a similar assessment that there was something going on with her.  I'm sure the haircut was half-way over before her first outburst.  She very loudly proclaimed that she knew there was a conspiracy regarding her scissors and that if "you didn't do it" then she wanted to know exactly who could have perpetrated such a thing. I knew she couldn't have been talking to me, because I know I did not do it.

There was a long pause in the cutting of hair and I looked over at the chair next to me thinking that perhaps the Japanese woman cutting hair might have been the target of the accusation.  Nope.  She was fully engrossed in a conversation with the Korean woman who was cutting number 92's hair.

The man siting in the waiting section continued to stare at me and/or the tall crazy lady.  There was another outburst and more accusations and my only response was to pretend that I was not involved in any way and just let what would happen happen.  I fully expected to leave with some really punk-rock like haircut, because there was no way that this little train wreck would turn out good.

You always hear about people who do things like get up and walk out of a restaurant when they get bad service or yell at the employees of Wal Mart.  I avoid situations like that.  But I kept wondering if for safety sake, I might get up and simply hand the lady some money and quickly exit.  I could just go to another barber shop and have someone finish the job.  It would make great conversation with the new barber, if I were the type to have conversations with barbers, that is.  Instead, I sat there wishing the haircut would end without the lady pulling out a razor and slitting my throat.

When I first joined the military and before people were so freaked-out about blood transfer, the barbers used to use those straight razors to shave the back of your neck.  I always had this fear that some guy would go nuts and start slitting the throats of guys just wanting a haircut.  This fear suddenly came back to me because the barber lady, the tall one who was clearly in some sort of emotional crises, spent an extra long time with her back to me doing something at her little barber sink.  The staring man continued to hope his number would be called before my haircut was finished.

Finally, she remembered that I was still sitting in her chair and she shoved a hand held mirror in my face, the signal whereby one knows that either the haircut is finished, or there is more work to be done.  "I look fabulous!" was my enthusiastic response and I handed her cash and said to keep the change.  I didn't even bother to stick around to see if the poor guy playing the staring game got selected for the chair next.

So technically speaking, I may very well have avoided serious bodily injury twice on Friday. 



Jeff Bauer said...

Great update, Dave! I especially liked the wrap-up sentence/paragraph! And it's a coin toss as to which catastrophe would have been worse...

I'm also guilty of the vehicular stunt you performed on Friday. And as you "waved as if that was some form of guilty plea and apology rolled into one", I've done that, too, but with an added twist:

I actually said out loud (as if the other driver could hear me...), "I'm sorry. I'm an asshole."

Steve said...

Dave, Glad you made it through the day unharmed. I think we've all done something similar behind the wheel. Once upon a time I was going to make little signs that I could hold up when I did something like that, but I never did it. I figured the risk of me running off the road while I was fishing around for the right sign wasn't worth it. As for the haircut, that's why I cut my own hair!