The diamond-shaped, yellow sign on the Seascape Road offramp read “45 MPH” and Sid rolled her eyes every time she saw it. The offramp was long and ventured uphill in the mountainous landscape, and she knew from experience that she could hit the bottom of the ramp going sixty or sixty-five miles per hour, coast all the way to the light, and (if the light was green when she reached the intersection) still have enough speed to make a right turn onto the main drag and then another right turn onto the street that led her home without having to hit the gas even once.
Sid also knew that if she did all that with another car behind her on the ramp, there was more than a good chance that her follower would pull up really close behind her in an effort to intimidate her into driving faster or simply because they themselves were in a terrible hurry. The worst part, she decided, was that many drivers took the “45 MPH” sign seriously and then had to speed up later on the ramp just to get to the ramp’s end.
That’s what happened at that moment. As she coasted up the ramp, a fancy silver car sat right on her tail, and it was clear that the driver wasn’t happy about her speed.
She reached the ramp’s crest and saw that the stoplight at the end was green. That meant that by the time she (and car behind her) arrived at the light, it would be red. At just that point, the ramp widened into two lanes. Sid stayed to the right, intending to turn right. The car behind her sped around on the left, pulling up to the red stoplight a good ten seconds before Sid sidled up beside it in her little green Ford Focus.
The stopped silver car’s left tail light flashed, indicating an upcoming left turn, and Sid rolled down her window when she noticed that the driver had rolled down his on both sides as well.
“Why did you do that?” Sid called from her seat to the other driver. An older Asian man looked over at her, somewhat uncomprehending her attempt at conversation.
“What?” he called back, his voice only slightly tinted with his Korean heritage.
“Why did you speed around me just to stop here at the light?” she clarified, her voice loud so she could be heard over the roar of the freeway below them.
The man looked at her, and she wasn’t sure if he didn’t hear what she’d said or if he was just incredulous that she had asked.
“I was just wondering,” she continued, trying to explain that she wasn’t angry, just curious, “because you had to stop anyway, and now I get to go ahead of you because I’m turning right and you’re turning left, even though I just took my time and coasted.”
The man frowned and pressed a button at his left elbow, prompting his car’s window to slide up and cut off the space between them. She sighed, glanced around him to check for any cross traffic, and then turned right while the light was still red. In her rearview mirror, she saw the silver car still waiting to turn left.
When she turned right onto the smaller street, the car disappeared from the mirror and left her still wondering why people weren’t more efficient, why they didn’t think things through more fully or more often.
This post is part of Flash Fiction February.