I spent three weeks reading through everything I ever wrote, eventually compiling a varied mix of pieces into a book. Imagine standing in front of a mirror naked, thoroughly examining every square inch of your body–and doing so for three weeks with little interaction with the outside world. It’s unnerving, and you’ll find some things that will make you question whether you’re worth the resources. But I veered off track here. Below is a piece that was meant for Life On a Treadmill, but didn’t make it because I forgot it existed._____________________
Five ambulances flew up the shoulder of 80 West in the span of thirty minutes. There were about forty people hanging outside their cars, some trying to get a view of what was causing the hold up. Others, like myself, bullshitting to pass the time. We lacked any urgency to see what we presumed wait ahead.
There also appeared to be an Indian news crew. At least they had a mic with one of those logo cubes on it, and maybe they were Pakistani for all I know. Nevertheless, they interviewed the chain-smoking lady parked behind me.
In knowing what carnage waited up ahead, there was a shockingly positive vibe to the forced massive gathering. And that was surprising mostly because of the wait that would precede the viewing of the scene. Everyone would have to look at the carnage. After all, the universe conspired to show us this scene of death, a glimpse at our mortality through crushed and charred metal. We may as well process and retain this cosmic message—a real time lesson on the preciousness of life and automotive safety.
And if there is one truth that you should never question, it is the fact that under no circumstances do you take a moment like this for granted. That is why I decided to write this as I waited, and why I eventually popped my trunk to grab my football. We were gonna be there for awhile, and I’m sure the others would’ve seen the value of playing catch. I mean, how often do you get to throw a football on a major highway? But as I reached for my ball, I noticed people returning to their cars—a sign of imminent movement. We moved, but not much, and people got back out of their cars, lollygagging around before strapping in and riding things out.
This was too long of a hold up, and the inevitable shoulder drivers began to emerge. The initial reaction is to view these people as impatient assholes. However, once you choose the high road and decide to wait it out, you find yourself with a lot of time at your disposal.
Soon you realize there might be a valid reason for their impatience. Maybe they have a car full of whining kids and one really has to shit. Maybe they have to shit. Maybe they’re low on gas and understand that running out of gas in a traffic jam will actually worsen the traffic. They’re merely aggressively considerate.
Then you start to feel like the asshole, and the shoulder begins to look like a righteous option. It is another lane, and what any traffic jam needs to speed things up is more lanes. So you decide to go for it, but there’s a flatbed semi in the way.
Roll a cigarette—and a spliff—and wait. The universe has something to show you, and knows the importance of timing.
The cars begin to roll, slowly gaining momentum until the road opens up, but there is no carnage to be seen. No scraps of metal or pieces of broken glass. The only thing is a small grimy stuffed animal being blown around by the gusts of passing cars.