Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Vanpool: The Mike Situation

Usually, Jim drives. Jim drives well. Jim drives responsibly. Jim knows that it is his job to keep the other twelve passengers in the van alive. When Jim isn't in, Mike drives. Mike drives the twelve person van as if it is a Miata. Mike also has ADHD.

Today...Jim is out.

Usually, when I know Jim is going to be out, I make up an excuse of why I am going to drive myself the 80 miles round trip to work and I skip the vanpool all together. On occasion, I don't realize that Jim is out and I end up having to ride to work with Mike driving.

I arrive at the van at 5:35 am and open the sliding door and immediately notice that Mike is driving. I roll my eyes in the dark and proceed to the last row of benches. I sit down and see that Mike has a GPS mapping device suction cupped to the windshield.

There is only one way from Annapolis to Washington, D.C.

We take the same route every single day. It's...the...route.

I immediately start having what I like to call a "Final Destination" moment. You know the movie where the kid foresees his own death down to the last detail.

I often wonder about how many times people have had the thought that they were going to die in a situation. Maybe sitting on a plane for example a passenger who otherwise doesn't have irrational fears might suddenly feel impending doom. Maybe even visualize the plane crashing. Embarrassment or fear takes over, the passenger says nothing, plane takes off, plane crashes, passenger dies.

I am feeling this now. Kind of like a dull panic. If I don’t say something within the next minute, we will leave, and then what?

“Excuse me, you’re driving like an asshole, please let me out on the side of the highway, lest I perish.”

Suddenly it comes to me. I slap my forehead with the palm of my hand and say,

“I must not be getting enough sleep, I forgot that I have to drive to a doctor’s appointment after work and I won’t be able to take the van, I’m sorry.” Even in the dark I can see the envious looks from my fellow passengers. They know now that I have escaped death and that they are powerless to do anything about their own fate.

I get up and open the door to the van and step out. Safe.“You’ll need an extra person with you if you want to travel in the HOV lane,” Joe (a fellow pooler) says as he literally leaps from his seat and out the door without even waiting for a response from me.

He closes the door and the van leaves.

As we sit in my car and I turn the ignition, Joe turns to me and says,

“What the fuck does he need a GPS for?”

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