Today I am happy to introduce to you my friend Steve Bato, a fellow member of the Dallas Area Writing Group (“DAWG”). If, like me, you are NOT a fan of urban freeway driving, I think you’ll relate to this post which he kindly agreed to share. It appeared on his blog Steve Bato: The Stuff of Life on October 18, 2010 (and I have been snickering ever since). I hope you will visit Steve for more of his adventures.
“Me and the HOV Lane”
by Steve Bato
As I shoot through the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane three days each week, I wonder how many people in the regular lanes curse my luck. Perhaps they wish they had a friend like Franessa, whose presence authorizes my Ford Taurus for such coveted access. Taking the HOV is like riding on an enclosed, accelerated escalator, which runs beside a long marble staircase. I’m the envy of the sad, solitary staircase travelers, unless an accident halts my progress. Trapped, it’s my turn for sadness as they pass me — smiling. I’m grateful for the speedy trip to work; nevertheless each excursion fills me with trepidation.
The HOV lane and I do not yet have an understanding. Like a wary boxer, it bobs and weaves, exploring my weaknesses. One of the HOV’s favorite weapons is its cement side walls. Simple white lines designate many sections of the HOV, but others have ominous, low sides, trapping its transitory residents. The HOV lane senses my claustrophobia. I stiffen as the space between walls narrows, then widens, then narrows again.
Another weapon is its merge lanes. Some are where my lane merges with another HOV. Others are where I merge out of the HOV into regular traffic in the twenty-two feet allowed for the task. Either case involves encounters with cars at speeds that make me feel like a lemming frantic to exit the crowd before it carries him over the cliff.
What tricks do I throw at the HOV lane? None. I’m like Rocky Balboa in the first eight rounds—I am bludgeoned but still get up and take more. My defense: not giving up. Offense may come later.
But the HOV’s weapon of choice against me is a giant—a Bridge Of Unusual Torture (BOUT). I have a bout with the BOUT each trip home from the office. Each time I exit the tollway, the BOUT looms before me. It smells my fear of heights and merging cars and instantly gets taller and curvier. I start the car up the ramp, which is a bridge in its own right. A curved bridge. A merge lies in wait at the top of the curve. A merge with traffic from the left. As I crest the hill, every hair on my neck stands on tiptoe to see better and look for impending doom. Now I am on a bridge, up a hill, around a corner, merging with traffic, and headed to the bridge-proper, which has cement walls within inches of both the driver and passenger doors. As I reach the other side of the bridge, though I am still caged between menacing cement walls, the hairs on my neck collapse from exhaustion. I breathe a sigh of relief—I survived yet again, and realize I haven’t taken a breath since the on-ramp first appeared on the horizon.
So, I am grateful I can speed to work in the HOV, and am gaining an appreciation for facing fears. With God’s help, nothing is impossible, even a daily bout with the BOUT.
Steve Bato earns his daily bread as an analyst/programmer (computer stuff). He enjoys cooking (daily bread, eggs, bacon, and anything not green), as well as watching movies and playing games with his wife and two daughters. Although most of his words are trapped in his head in a ferocious battle with his heart and funny bone, through God’s grace some of them leak out for others to enjoy.
And now I am commuting over to visit my Company Girls for a nice, relaxing cup of coffee. Join me?
Thanks for reading!