I hate stoplights

I like to drive my car around the city. I love blasting my music and feeling the wind whistle through the car. I like the outside world to hear my music. It gives me a euphoric sense of freedom and bliss, like I'm doing everything I've ever wanted to do.

But it's hard, especially in this city, there are stoplights everywhere. They all seem to conspire against me. Every time I shift into fourth gear and start to really take off - blink- red light. And I have to come to a stop. Even the music feels static. The beats and lyrics feel uncomfortably trapped when the car is stopped. They want the wind and the speed as much as I do.

And that's not the worst of it. Having my window open makes it even worse. The little kids juggling at the front of the line of desperately stopped cars come up to me with their dirty little hands outstretched. They can barely reach up to my window, but it feels like their waving hands and bare feet are inside my car, sitting next to me. I'm glad they are so short though, otherwise they could see the coins I tell them I just don't have. It's so invasive. Not only do they get my pity, but they also want my money. And for what? For juggling a few lemons for five seconds? No sir. They just don't see it from my point of view.

I was free. I was on a dimension beyond matter and reality. I was lost in the vast expanses of my own mind basking in my fantasies of everything. Of nothing. I was going fast. And now my music sounds restricted, I'm at a full stop and the speedometer is at a dull zero. I'm forced back into the miserable reality of the city. Sometimes I give them some money, even though I know they won't spend it. But then vanity gets added to the pity, the loss of freedom, and the loss of money.

We all know the real reason we give to the poor is to make ourselves feel better. Do these fucking kids realize what they are taking from me? I'm paying a quarter to get the life sucked out of me, my money taken away, and to made to feel like shit. That's the rawest deal I ever saw.

That's why I much rather drive outside the city, in the countryside. Sure, poverty is worse, but it's all just a quick visual image lost in the rearview mirror and forgotten until the next one comes along and is eventually also forgotten.

There are no grandmothers still in their indigenous outfits, with their walking sticks and their brown, old, wrinkled, sad faces asking me for money. I swear that these old ladies, every time you give them a quarter and what do you get out of it?

"God bless you," and then a slow movement of the hands in front of her in the shape of a cross.

Ha! This woman is going to "god bless" me? Look around, god doesn't give a fuck about you! You're in the middle of the street begging for quarters from people who hate your guts for reminding them of how ugly they feel inside for giving you or not giving you a quarter. You’re going to die alone and sad and no one will give a shit. And I'll be off into a vrooming bliss of paradise until the next stoplight comes along.

"God bless me"? So not only are you making me feel like shit and taking my money, you are asking the god I don't believe in to "bless me"? I insist on the degree of rawness of this deal.

Outside the city there are no mothers with babies in arms holding out prescriptions of all sorts, telling you the baby needs it or else it could die. Just get it over with, I never give them money. Do you really think it's a good idea to let this baby grow up and realize the shit it will have to live in for the rest of its short, miserable life? Get that prescription the fuck out of my car.

Or the wheelchair guys, there are no wheelchairs outside the city. No severed legs or worse - disfigured people with horribly awkward limps. The ones I usually give to are the old. Hey, wow, you made it this far. My respects. Hopefully my quarter will help you buy a pillow and blanket so you can die semi-comfortably while sleeping on the sidewalk tonight.

There are no farmers selling their produce in the middle of the street, outside the city. They come in and pick a busy stoplight and join the parade of other farmers selling their bananas and lemons. I wonder if they even know what the hell the cell phone guys are selling.

The cell phone guys are covered with cell phone accessories from head to toe. Their bodies are a walking closet of adapters, holders, cases, and so on. Do the farmers know what these guys are selling? Do they ever wonder how they could get into that business instead of the banana business? You do see other people selling shit they obviously have no idea what it is. It wouldn't be the first time, there is a precedent.

The saddest case I saw, obviously, was not in the city. There was this guy that was dressed as best he could - you could tell - it's the way really poor people show up at church. Their best shirt and pants, which wind up being shabby at best. He was walking down the valley created by the stopped cars at a stoplight in zone nine. And he was carrying these neon-bright back-scratchers. Cheap, awful looking, and probably not worth whatever he was asking for - which probably wasn't much to begin with. And I see this man and (luckily he was on my passenger side - window closed plus some added distance) I want to cry. I want to yell at someone. Who the fuck is going to buy that crap from this guy who obviously is trying his hardest? He saw one of the cell phone guys and his eyes spoke to me.

"Darn, I wonder how he got all that stuff, he sure is selling more than me. What are these long, bright, colorful things anyway? Why am I here? What happened? Where is god? Why isn't life fair?"

I may have read into it a little much, but this guy made me feel really bad. It took me until fourth gear to forget about him and the tears I nearly shed for him.

You see a lot of shit at the stoplights here, old blind people being led around be a child, old men with signs around their necks claiming to be deaf and dumb. Most people dispute the deaf part and chuckle - assholes that they are. You see 60 year-old men with their heads on towels on the pavement, balancing themselves on their heads while they mimic a bicycle ride with their legs. He sure wishes he had a bicycle.

The point is, I hate stoplights. They take me away from where driving takes me - which is a very unique and special place. It brings me down, and it is the embodiment of the ever-present, everlasting down that these people live everyday of their lives. I fucking detest stoplights.

So where is god? Outside the city? He certainly isn't in it. Wouldn't it be ironic, don't you think, if there were stoplights in heaven? I bet there are, if heaven actually exists. I bet the rich already have it set up so the poor are once again relegated to these damn stoplights while the rich fly by them in their expensive wings. I'm telling you, the poor just don't get any breaks.

Or maybe - just maybe - it'll be like the city, heaven that is. But no other cars. Just my music, my open window, one gear (fifth, or if heaven really is the best, then sixth), the wind in my face, and no stoplights. Ahh...bliss. The mere possibility of its existence elevates my spirits to a never before seen - oh fuck I gotta go. Another god damn red light.


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