One lane, two cars, in a battle of wills. It was my tiny blue Galant versus a large white SUV, on the skinny nighttime roads of Brooklyn. I was in an ambling mood, content with driving down the street nicely in tune with the legal speed limit. I had no-name classical music blasting, in the car and in my head, making me feel giddy-high. Ba-Dum! Gas, brake. BA-DUM! Gas, gas, brake. And so I made my way down the street.

The person driving the SUV apparently didn’t think it was a time for leisurely driving, or even obeying limits. His or her high beams were flashing in my rear view mirror, politely insisting that I get the fuck out of the way. At the next stop sign the front of the behemoth crept its way up to the back of my car. Any closer, and our cars would have been humping. I drove on and big whitey followed; there we were, nose to ass, inching down the street. Yes. I slowed down. A lot. I don’t like being strong-armed from behind when I’m not doing anything wrong.

Turning a corner allowed the SUV to wedge past me on the right, thus gaining the space to cut off two lanes of traffic and then blow the red light, leaving me only to assume that the driver had somewhere very important to be. As it sped away, I had just enough time to read the single bumper sticker:

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd.

Gee, I thought, that’s really nice, but wait a second! Would the Lord really advocate that kind of driving? Would He approve of that sort of hostile vehicular bullying? I’m going to guess no, He wouldn’t. Judging by precedent, Jesus would probably let every big spoiler, modified-Honda speed demon pass him, ride his ass and flip him the bird without ever once losing his cool. He’d ride behind every boat-driving slowpoke doing thirty in the fast lane, and he wouldn’t honk the horn.


Notice the driver sporting the I brake for all living things sticker nosing in and out of traffic at deadly speeds. Watch in awe as the car claiming Real men love Jesus bullies its way into your lane, and the driver gives you the finger. Was that a Baby On Board sticker on the mid-sized sedan that was riding a Mac truck’s ass going ninety? Wonder at the driver who reminds you Don’t drive faster than your guardian angel can fly, har har. Seems her angel just went to plaid.

Why is it the people with the nicest, most peaceable bumper stickers so often make the worst drivers?

Go for it. Tell me that you’d rather be sailing. Tell me you do it better because you’re an electrician. Tell me that your kid was student of the month. Then cut into my lane, make a lewd gesture and slow down to a crawl. I’ll play the game and our cars can do the sweet, sweet lambada of war. We can play, you and I, on an empty highway, in the night, too concerned with each other to worry about the cops. It can be like that. But don’t tell me when we’re in the heat of battle, while I sneak up behind you to shine my brights in your eyes, that you love world peace and that you commit random acts of kindness. At that point, it just sounds silly.

About a mile from where I live, there is a very large, very wealthy church. You know it's a wealthy church in El Paso because it's not surrounded by a weedy desert wasteland. I don't know if it's like this everywhere, but around here they usually spend every cent on the building and leave the grounds to rot. It may not be their fault, but it's ass-ugly. This church is surrounded by nice xeriscaping and many, many parking spaces. On any Sunday, those parking spaces are filled with many, many vehicles, most of them big and shiny. The sort of vehicle you see on commercials, the ones that go smashing through rainforests and canyons while the occupants sip tea and listen to classical music.

That is, big pieces of shiny crap made by Ford. El Paso likes Ford.

At any rate, I always happen to be driving past this church during a shift change. If Moses had parted Detroit, it would have looked like this. Vehicles ranging from simply huge to staggeringly titanic gush forth from the church parking lots, lumbering out into the lanes whether other vehicles are there or not. They dash across the medians, heaving and swerving. These people flee the church like they'd rather be anywhere else in the world. They scatter like deer before a forest fire, like roaches before the Orkin Man, like peasants before the Four Horsemen. And they do it without the slightest regard to the people already driving down the street.

Every Sunday, I wonder what causes them to desire escape so badly. Just this moment, I believe I have arrived at the answer: They're trying to get away before the collection plate gets to them.

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