The lines of automobiles were expanding at the intersection, building out in every direction from the complicated array of traffic lights. Woodrow took a deep breath and let the air slowly escape through his pursed lips, making him a little dizzy but accomplishing the great work of relaxing him for the moment. It had been a long, stressful day and he was now allowed to leave the past eleven hours behind and fill the small gap between office and home with positive thoughts of a warm dinner and some time with Nelly and the kids. He smiled as he successfully discarded the snarkiness and the petulance of the general public that had decided to call him today, all with problems they felt only he could solve “as soon as possible.” If not sooner. It was a lot of work to keep his temper and attitude in check but, regardless of their boorish manner, he knew they would not have been calling him unless they needed help. Pressure had a way of bringing out the worst in folks and it always helped him to remember that proverb when he was trying to wade through someone’s anger to get to their real need.
The cars in front of him started to move and he slowly released the brake with his right foot and ramped up his speed to stay in synch with his fellow travelers. It was a new intersection, a little tricky because it was basically a stop gap, a short term solution towards a longer term goal of routing traffic quickly and efficiently throughout the ever expanding west side of town. Woodrow was riding in the left lane, along with most everyone else since the right lane was a fake lane, eventually merging into the left and forming one line of traffic by the time it reached the next light. Most of the folks using the right lane were either ignorant or arrogant, unaware the lane ended or knew and refused to wait in the left lane like “regular” folks, assuming they could work or force their way into the congestion and bypass the wait. As Woodrow cruised through the intersection just as the light turned yellow, his eyes were distracted by something moving rapidly on his right. As he slowed with the traffic to begin the wait for the next light, a dark green Suburban raced through the intersection in the right lane and slammed to a stop next to Woodrow’s car and casually turned the front end, filling the small space between his car and the one in front of him causing Woodrow to quickly mash his brake pedal to avoid hitting the interloper. He looked over and saw the driver, a woman wearing large dark sunglasses, leaning over her steering wheel, thanking Woodrow for letting her cut in front of him by waving her hand but never losing the tether to her cell phone.
“My, my, my… someone must be in a hurry.” He waved back and shook his head. “Lord, don’t let her kill anyone on her way home…”
This is one chapter in a series of nine, an experiment in weaving people’s stories into each other, showing cause and affect in how we treat each other regardless of how well we know each other. A casual comment to a stranger may trigger big things but we will probably never know…