Dear Angry Driver,
I know perfectly why you followed me that day. You were angry, and scared, but your angry overrode your sensibility. I would have called the cops, but you had something to prove. So did I, which is why I stared at you as you pulled next to me and asked me if I knew what the speed limit was. I was perfectly aware of the speed limit on the road. I know all the speed limits of every road I’ve ever had to travel. I joke about breaking them. I joke about speeding recklessly about.
What you don’t know, Mr. Driver, was that the joke isn’t funny. It never is. I play it off as youthful recklessness and stupidity. But I am not stupid. I know me more than I sometimes give myself credit for, but being stupid is definitely not one of them. I’m not reckless at the risk of harming someone else. I would never subject someone to the same fate I will undoubtedly experience behind the wheel of a car. Nor do I condone reckless driving. Call me a hypocrite, but I enjoy the idealism of life, even when I experience the cold disconnect from actual living.
Mr. Driver you don’t know that I didn’t get my license until 2010, when I was 23. I tell everyone that I just couldn’t afford to get it before then, but that is a terrible lie, and one I will continue to tell to those who just don’t know me. Sadly, there are many. No, Mr. Driver, I didn’t get my license until then because I didn’t trust myself behind the wheel. Not that I would be reckless to the point to cause harm to someone else, but because it would be too easy to let my hands slip from the wheel. It would be too easy to let my foot sink heavily onto the pedal. It would be too easy.
Every time I slip behind the wheel of a car I take a breath and make a choice. Sometimes, that choice is easy, and I find myself enjoying the ride. Other times I’m white knuckled; my eyes boring straight ahead of me as I will every inch of the journey to bring me home. Or I experience what angered you. Apathy, recklessness…a death wish.
I do have one. I have had it since I could remember and I looked into your angry face I could see the fear. Fear of the kind of damage a person like me could do to this world, could have done for you. You saw my license plate, and I felt your judgment radiate from you as you glared angrily at me, and I looked emotionless at you as you yelled at me. I wanted nothing more to laugh at you, because you weren’t as angry as you thought you were. Fear amuses me, mostly because I am always afraid. Afraid of this world; afraid of myself. There is nothing more terrifying on this planet than being afraid of yourself.
You were stupid to follow me. There are thousand reasons: I could have had a gun, or I could have been trying to get away from someone. I could have been rushing to an emergency, or had been experiencing one myself. But you followed someone who was apathetic, and that is probably the most dangerous kind of person to follow. You just never know what would happen. Out of the two of us, you were the stupidest one, and I hope you never follow someone like that again. Call the cops, get away from people like me. Avoid us. We are dangerous.
I brushed the experience off with a co-worker like I felt guilty for being chastised. I joked about it, learning something about Iowa police regulations and what not, and went home. I finished my ruse, and I managed to get home on an apathetic day. Honestly, I went to sleep, and dreamt an amazing story that I didn’t write down because I woke up.
That is the miracle of the story. Not that I didn’t kill myself doing 80mph in a 45mph zone. Not because I didn’t lose control. I never do. I push and push to feel something…anything…to feel the pounding of my heart in my chest. But this isn’t the miracle. The miracle is, Mr. Driver, is that I woke up. That yesterday I lived.
So, Mr. Driver, I am sorry I scared you. I’m sure you rarely meet people like me. People who make sure that they get away from people as fast as they can when they are in destructive moods. Who will do whatever it takes to get someplace safe. You had a nice car, and looked fancy, so I guess you have something to lose in life, and seeing someone who doesn’t care about losing is terrifying.
I just hoped you learned something from this. In a fight between you and me, I will always win, because I will forget you. However, you won’t ever forget me. So let me go. Let. me. go.