A Ticket to Ride
The road that my daughter and I travel twice daily is generally full of big rigs, many of which are student drivers who are slower than experienced drivers and I become increasingly frustrated when I get stuck behind one of them. There is also a frequently-used train track that we must cross. The trains in this particular area are notoriously slow and long.
There is a switch very near the crossing here so often the trains are dropping and picking up cars which looks like a forward and back, forward and back process at a snail's pace across the road. If you get there as a switch is taking place, it can be a good half hour before you get to move again. Because of this, each time I get close enough to the track to see a good distance in both directions, I will scope out the scene and, if there is a train, I'll yell out to the driver in the car in front of me (who, obviously, cannot hear me), "There's a TRAIN! Move!"
The first time I did it I startled my daughter so badly she screamed by reflex. She looked out the window, rolled her eyes and said in the way only a disgusted teenager can say, "Mo-om! It's not even moving!" Sure enough, my "train" was merely an unmanned engine without any cars, sitting still on the track with the lights on. Now, when either of us realizes that we're seeing something differently than what is real, we will yell, "There's a TRAIN!" even when we're not at the tracks and we get a good laugh.
The other day it was a beautiful day and I was feeling happy and light. My daughter sat beside me, beaming as happily as I and I judged our state of being to be delightfully divine. Our stereo was up full blast and we were singing and "seat dancing" as I maneuvered the traffic. The big rigs seemed to be plentiful and were interrupting my good mood and, in the distance, I could also see a train stopped across the road so I opted to take the back streets. Even though we had left early and I had plenty of time to get us to the school on time, I wanted to keep moving.
The particular street I picked is a fairly unpopulated road with lots of fields. I floored the gas pedal and zoomed along the seemingly deserted road, enjoying the feeling of driving fast in the sunshine while singing loudly. The posted speed limit on the road is only 40 mph my daughter had pointed out the day before when I had behaved just as I was on this day. However, I had forgotten that conversation and just went with what was. I was feeling effulgent happiness moving through me so rapidly, I wanted to match it.
In my head, I heard a phone ring. Then I heard my voice, "Barb, it's Angie. I'm going to be a little late. I just got pulled over for speeding."
No sooner had that thought ended when I became aware of the white car nestled amongst the tall grass of the fields. Cop! I glanced down at the speedometer and blurted a few nasty words in my head when I discovered I was going over 60mph. Rather than stomp on my brakes in an obvious attempt to reign myself in, I let off the gas and started verbally coaching my car to slow down immediately. I knew I was caught and pulled over almost before the cop had a chance to flip on his lights.
He walked up to the car, smiling and observing the scene within. Something about his demeanor caused me to believe he was surprised to find it was a woman and her daughter.
"Miss," he said and I was grateful he didn't call me ma'am. "I pulled you over because you were speeding."
We both knew I knew why he had pulled me over. I liked that he didn't ask me if I knew why he had. I nodded.
"This is a 40 zone and I clocked you at 52," he said and then grinned. "And that was after you saw me and slowed down."
I laughed. I was so caught, but he was being nice about it.
He asked only for my license and went back to his car. During that time, I had the conversation with Barb that I had heard in my head, giggling at myself the entire time. Two minutes later, he returned with my ticket. "I'm going to cut you a break. I clocked you at 12 over, but I'm writing this for 5 over."
I felt grateful, again, because he didn't have to do that. I was going way over 12 prior to him clocking me. I smiled and said, "Thank you, officer. I was completely oblivious to where I was so I appreciate your generous kindness."
He had caught onto my happiness and rolled with it. "Do you know," he stopped and laughed, "Do you know where you are going now?"
"Yes." I couldn't help laughing. "I do. Now."
"Good," he said, smiling broadly as he handed me the ticket. "Hope your journey there is a safe one. Have a good day."
Strangely, I felt so happy, still. And I felt happy that I was holding this feeling in a place where I could melt down, cry, sob, rage and be angry at myself for causing yet another bill that I would have difficulty paying. Instead, I went with what was. Happiness.
I wondered, briefly, how many times I've reacted to a situation out of habit - "acting" mad when I'm mad or whatever. I realized that it is possible to experience every experience through love and happiness if I have a strong commitment to that. It isn't necessary to throw myself upon the floor and gnash and wail because things are going horribly. I can experience the hard times through the softness of love and laughter. And choosing to experience it this way alters the experience thereof into one that is more tolerable. What a powerful concept!
Feeling the happiness bubbling over in continual giggles, I pulled away from the shoulder. As the cop turned off his lights and did a U-turn to go back to his hiding place, I rounded the corner. A moment later I discovered that the train I had been trying to avoid was now crossing this road and doing the painfully slow forward and back routine.
I could only laugh.
© Angie K. Millgate 2/24/10