Theater Notes: Trafficking patience
There’s no review this week. But, for a change, here’s a chance for you to review a short, two-character play I wrote. Better yet, it’s a little play I would love to have any of you send to one of your own granddaughters or grandsons and have the two of you read the little play over the phone together. For this grandpa, it’s something I love doing as much as I relish seeing a great play to review.
“About Traffic. (phone dialogue for a grandkid and a grandfather or grandmother).” By the playwright Sidney B. Simon.
Grandparent: Well, hello there, up north. How was your day? Got any high points?
GKid: School was good, and basketball was good, and best of all the roads were all plowed, and we could even get back into the driveway. I hate it when the snowplow dumps a full load of that hard-packed mushed up snow, right where we have to get out.
G: Don’t the plow guys know where a driveway is? It isn’t intentional, is it? You do something that made them mad?
GK: No, I think it’s mindlessness, maybe fatigue. There’s been so much snow. Some of the plow guys know it. We can go a whole week without any trouble, and the next week the driveway exit is jammed.
G: Now that’s a word that resonates with me. But, first, please, one more high point.
GK: That’s easy. We got a bunch of new firewood, just in time, a gift from one our best friends. It’s pretty nice to be warmed by people who love you. Now, tell me why “jammed” was a word you resonated with. I’m betting it will have a couple of high points of yours built in.
G: Smart kid. Actually, you’re right. The jammed I’m talking about is down here in Florida. It’s all the tourists who are jamming the one road to and off the island. Periwinkle Way. Going off island between 4 and 6 p.m? It can take more than a half hour, and it’s only about 2 or 3 miles. It creeps like a serpent, bumper to bumper.
GK: That’s usually a time when you go off island to see that wonderful little three-year-old grandson of yours, am I right?
G: As always. And this week alone I almost got involved in two road rage incidents.
GK: Grampa, please. Use all your skills, man, and don’t get someone road raging at you. We don’t want to lose you.
G: I’ll be good. So this is one of them. Okay, see the big trick is that I know a short cut that runs parallel to the main road. But there comes a time when you have to still make a left hand turn to get into the main road traffic going east, in order to get to the causeway and the mainland.
GK: I can see it. You have to stop the oncoming lane and also hope for a hole in the serpentine on to causeway lane.
G: You got it. Now, there is some kindness in the people going off. A lot of them drive pickups with people who have worked on the island all day. Painters, plumbers, yard work guys, etc. Even though they’ve had enough bumper to bumper, there’s always one of them who will let you in.
GK: Well, that’s nice, and if I know you, you’d be one of those guys letting other cars in.
G: Well, actually, I had wanted to mention a high point about that. I wrote a letter to the editor of my local people about traffic kindness. It was a fun letter. It said we need more kindness, and one way to assure it would be that all Toyota owners seeing a Toyota trying to get in, would stop and let them. And the generous ones would also let in every Nissan, Mazda, Lexus, Honda, other Japanese brands get in, as well.
GK: Well, that would help. What if you drive a VW?
G: Easy. Every person who drives a German car, other VW owners, but also the BMW, Audi, and Mercedes cars, would be invited in.
GK: I get it, Fords let in Fords, and because we have a Ford Ranger, I would be let in, right?
G: Right, but also Mercurys and Lincolns, Mustangs. Same goes for GM brands letting in GM cars, and Chrysler brands, including Dodges, Plymouths, Jeeps and there is an old vintage DeSoto on the island, so any new or old Chrysler product would let their brood in. You can’t believe how much that would help, just that simple traffic kindness.
GK: Okay, wise guy. What about a few Hummers?
G: You read my mind. In my letter to the editor, I ended it to get a laugh with just that question.
GK: What did you say, grampa?
G: I wrote that the Hummers will just have to wait for a Yugo.
GK: Very funny. Now, back to the road rage. Tell me what happened.
G: Well, my short cut brings me to where the bumper to bumper line is, remember? And we have a hope of making a left. The traffic coming east that day had a driver willing to grant me entry first, and he flashed his lights, but the oncoming cars were rushing. It wasn’t bumper to bumper coming on to island. These were people coming back from shopping off island, eager to get home or maybe tourists rushing to check into their holiday reservation. Usually they have very little patience. I had that sweet invitation in the snake going to the causeway and a very tight one in the coming-back lane that a big red SUV was speeding up to close, and I zoomed out.
GK: You could have got slammed, grampa.
G: It was a calculated risk, and the red SUV did have to hit its brakes. No screeching of tires. It was a youngish woman, she almost felt like college-aged kid. Well, she just leaned on her horn. And didn’t stop blowing it. I simply shrugged and smiled. And when the horn stopped, I blew her a kiss. She gave me a gesture.
GK: Glad she didn’t have a gun.
G:But as I went by, very slowly, I said, “I was late for a three year grandkid waiting for his grampa. So thanks, lady. You gave me 20 seconds of kindness. Don’t forget it, and I’ll pass it on, too.”
GK: That’s cool, grampa. And I bet it worked.
G:She shrugged, raised her shoulders, and said, “Okay.” I gave the guy who let me in a big thumbs up out my window. I could see in the mirror that he gave me one back.
GK: Tell me truthfully, grampa. What was your first reaction when she was so furious blowing that horn and giving you the gesture?
G:Well, I was put off by it, of course. What the heck, it really only slowed her down for those 20 seconds. I mumbled to myself….”Why don’t you take that big red gas guzzler and stuff it up your left nostril.”
GK: Thank, God you didn’t say it, did you?
G:Nah, and anyhow I was thinking no road rage was needed here.
GK: Grampa, back to kindness.
G:Kindness, forever. There’s work to be done. We’re all so glad there are a couple of traffic cop posts on the jammed journey. And they sure help. There would be a lot more rage and a lot more fender benders if they weren’t here.
GK: And you, you good citizen, you sent me a copy of that other letter, last year, the one you sent to the editor encouraging all of us to yell out a thanks to the traffic cops when we pass them. They really have a very difficult job. And I bet you started something good, my dear, dear grampa.
G:So that story was my high point today. Talking to you and the red guzzler story. Okay, go get your homework done. I’ve got many a mile myself to go before I sleep. So, nitey night, my loyal grandkid, and when you’re driving think about kindness, and give out as many of those 20 seconds or more of kindness as you can. It’s part of being mindful.
GK: Sure, I want to grow up like you. So sleep tight, old-wise kindness mentor, and don’t let the road rage bite, grampa. Sweet dreams. Call again, soon. I love you.