The cab had cut me off two blocks before. He'd sped up, signaled left and then swerved to the right, directly in front of me. I was far enough behind him to avoid having to search for my cell phone and insurance card, but it was not a good move. It was not a yellow cab, but a livery cab. A beaten up town car with slightly tinted windows and a moustachioed man with a brooding brow in the driver's seat. Just another New York cabbie, doing his best to live up to the hype. After he'd attained his goal of getting in front of me, he rode on lackadaisically, driving a good ten miles below the speed limit. In New York, the speed limit is thought of as the minimum speed, so I was naturally upset with his decision. I couldn't pass him, or, rather, I didn't feel the need to pass him. I was only going a few more blocks before I had to make a right turn so I just grinned and bore it as he meandered along his merry way in front of me. He would slow to a crawl, then speed up a bit before stopping almost short, and repeat the cycle. Then, as suddenly as he had come, he was gone, cutting off the car to my left to get into that lane. I sped up slightly, passed him and went on my way, not giving the cab a second thought.
A few blocks up was the busy intersection where I was turning right. I stopped for the red light on the corner. In New York City, there is no right on red. You sit, you wait your turn. And so I did. All the curbs and corners were teeming with piles of dirty packed snow, some of them four feet high. Snow melt seeped onto the sidewalks and street, making puddles that would surely freeze over in a few more hours. Pedestrians struggled over heaping snow mounds while wearing inappropriate shoes. And there I was, almost home, glad to be in my car instead of navigating the icy sidewalks and miserably wet streets. The car was warm and a good song was playing on the radio.
A short burst of honking horn stirred me from my peaceful reverie. Then another, longer blast. I reluctantly looked to my left. There he was, the cabbie who had cut me off several blocks down, then slowed to a crawl for no apparent reason, and swerved into the other lane, causing another near accident. He was making some sort of gestures at me. I pretended not to know what he wanted. I had a few gestures of my own I was itching to try out. He gestured again, and I shrugged my shoulders and made a face that suggested, "I can't understand what you are trying to convey! Please desist immediately and leave me alone". He pressed a button on his door and the passenger side window rolled down half way. Ah, well. I had two choices. Either roll down my window and let him speak or ignore him completely, which would have been preferable, but in this situation, it would have been a really jerky thing to do. If it were a random case of road rage or good old fashioned driver malice, where you shout insults at someone who has mortally offended you by cutting you off or hogging your lane, well, ignoring it would have been the thing to do. But I knew what cabbie guy wanted, so I pressed the power button and my window rolled half way down to match his.
"You will make me to go ahead!?" he said, in that indeterminate accent that is the hallmark of cab drivers in the city, "I need to go right turn". This statement ( inquiry? order?) was accompanied by a snaky hand gesture that I took to be the international sign for "dick-ish driver needing to get in your lane because they did not get to cut in front of you in adequate time, even though they knew damn well they had to make a turn and there was plenty of time to get in back of you". "Ah, you need to go right turn!", I said, not making fun of his speech, just repeating what he'd said. I thought about it. Sure you need to go right turn. You KNEW you needed to go right turn blocks ago when you cut me off but you got out of the lane in hopes of cutting off some other victims, and now here we are. Me, you and the red light. You need to go right turn, you little shit? Hah! Good luck with that. I will NOT let you in front of me! Learn to drive your vehicle, and maybe then you'll be able to figure out which lane you have to be in to turn right!! All this in the blink of an eye. I hesitated just a moment, and looked at the cabbie to my left, who was smiling hopefully and making his odd hand gesture as the cold air flooded into his town car. "Yeah, well, why not?", I said, "You've been such a great, polite driver so far. Sure, you can get in front of me, go ahead". He nodded his head in compliance and closed the window, as I closed mine. The light changed and I let him in front of me so he could make his turn, which he did, clipping a snow pile and almost taking out a lady walking her dog as he rounded the corner. I made my turn and headed home. I'm not sure, but I think my sarcasm was lost on him.
This is not a political blog. I have no desire to rant and rattle on about my political views and why you should or should not vote for this one, that one, or the third one who really shouldn't even be running because he's just mucking up the chances of the second one. There are plenty of blogs exactly like that, though, so if that's the horse you want to ride, well, do a search and saddle up, cowboy.
This is not a blog about the short-comings of the American education system or the stupidity of the next ( or any) generation. If you think the school system failed you and you can still read this, then congratulations,Kilroy! You managed to rise above it. Kudos to you.
This is absolutely not an anti-American blog. I may have named it "Stupid America", but as corny as it sounds, I really do love this country. I will, however, admit I am often embarrassed by it. I just don't understand how a country that once gave us Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, Sojourner Truth and Walt Whitman could now be serving up Real Housewives, teen vampires, info-mercials, Humvee limousines and all things Kardashian. Where, exactly, did we go off-script? This blog is my journal of musings on American culture and mores as I try to find some answers.