Keeping My Hands on the Wheel


I am a rule follower. My phone is shut off even before the movie previews begin. All my text messages are properly punctuated. Leroy’s used cat litter is double-bagged, as per the city’s request. I sometimes worry about accidentally washing a sweater in warm water with my other clothes when the label very clearly states “wash separately in cold.” By and large, I do what I’m told.

Last week’s implementation of Bill 16 here in beautiful Alberta was, admittedly, a bit stressful for me. I wrote about the new laws last week, and discussed how not all the requirements make sense to me. Safe driving is truly important, but several of the restrictions seem like overkill. I am a safe and careful driver, and I don’t want to be pulled over for adjusting my iPod. I also really, really don’t want a $172 fine.

On my way to pick up some groceries before the 3-Day Novel Contest last Friday night, officially day two of the new distracted driving law, I was especially focused on following the rules. After all, I reasoned, the police would be extra super vigilant about ticketing people who broke the law. I expected it to be like the first few days of school, when I am as strict as possible with my new classes; setting the tone early stops major disciple problems down the road. I am a mean woman in September.

Two blocks from my house, I had to make a left turn across traffic with the sun in my eyes. It wasn’t ideal, but I figured I might end up with a ticket if I dug in my purse for my shades while I waited for my green light, so I sucked it up and squinted my way through. After all, my eyes were on the road and my hands were on the wheel.

What painfully beautiful irony it was when, after making my safe and not at all distracted left turn onto an even busier road, I headed for Stupid Store adhering to all the rules of the road and a spider dropped down off my sun visor. There I was, in Friday evening traffic on a very crowded road, with a nasty arachnid dangling just above the knuckles of my right hand. I hate spiders. We’ve talked about this several times before, and nothing has changed since the last time I griped about the gnarly little critters.

Spiders never descend on their little silk bungee cords and hang there peacefully. Those horrid eight-legged beasts sway and flail away at the end of their lines, scrambling for something to land on. At that moment in my simple trip for groceries, the spider needed to gain purchase on something, anything, and I was the only option around. Ack! I have goosebumps again just thinking about it.

The rest of the trip went like this: I knew I had about six blocks until the next light, and I started immediately hoping it would be red so I could stop and find some way to deal with the spider. How many times in life does a person wish for a red light? Of course, that light was green, and so was the light after it. There was no kleenex in the car at that time, so it wasn’t like I could have smooshed it quickly with a tissue. In fact, a big part of the problem was that I couldn’t see anything to kill it with. How does a girl go into battle without a weapon? I was also traveling in the far left lane, so I couldn’t just pull off onto a side street and murder the bug.

Finally, the third light was red. I spotted a little receipt from something or other on the floor, broke the law by leaning over to pick it up, and lunged at the spider with the folded piece of paper. I missed (sort of). Now, instead of a spritely spider clog dancing right in front of me, I had a wounded spider thrashing around and ready to kill. They say there’s nothing more dangerous or unpredictable than an injured animal. There were also guts from the part of the spider I had managed to squish on the receipt, and I shuddered to think I might come into contact with them; the only thing worse than touching the outside of a spider is touching the inside of a spider. Blech.

Somehow, I managed to grab the silk strand for the spider, and pitch both the strand and its cargo, still attached to the receipt, out my driver’s side window. There I was, trying to be a decent person and a law abiding citizen, and I was guilty of both (highly) distracted driving and littering.

Stupid spider.

copyright 2011:  http://bluespeckledpup.com

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