Not a Stellar Day

Here are three photographs I took today, in reverse chronological order.

First, the yogurt that I dropped with enough force that it broke the brand-new container, spilling yogurt as it skittered across the floor.

Really, that one’s hardly even picture-worthy, except that it occurred shortly after this lunchtime shot:

Why yes, that was my lunch of leftover linguine with spicy artichoke and olive sauce. Of course I managed to flip the plate upside down. Of course I did. I actually took this picture in part to commiserate with J, who started her day with a messy immersion-blender-and-acai-puree incident. Maybe I need to burn some sage in this house or something? Whatever.

But I am saving the best for last, because check out this morning’s picture:

I am icing my (considerable) calf muscle, which I managed to strain in the craziest way possible: it was due to road rage.

Why yes, I had a road rage incident this morning.

I was driving M to school. It is mostly driving several blocks along Regent Street, which is a lovely, lovely neighborhood street, especially this time of year, when all of the green leaves and flower buds are popping. It is also jam-packed with kids. There are older kids hustling toward the high school, a few middle school kids who may be walking to early activities, and tons of little elementary school kids, a few walking, but mostly waiting for the school bus. Parents are clutching coffees and chatting with each other, toddlers are waiting to watch the “big kids” get on the bus. . . it is a delight to witness this neighborhood on a spring morning.

Now it’s not a delight to be behind this bus, which happens to me sometimes as I’m heading home from the high school. In fact, the bus goes so slowly and stops so frequently that if I see it on Regent Street, I don’t even turn on the street. I go an extra block to avoid the whole area, and even driving under the speed limit, I come out ahead of the bus as I’m heading home. But today I wasn’t behind the bus. Either they were earlier than usual or we were later than usual, but we were still on the way to the high school when I saw it coming head on, about to make a stop. So we stopped. Because that is what you do when a school bus stops to pick up children. You stop and you wait until the bus moves on. For people who are wholly unfamiliar with this concept, the school bus very helpfully provides a large stop sign that swings out from the vehicle with the letters S-T-O-P, and they also have flashing lights. Just to help the other drivers understand what behavior is appropriate.

So, we were stopped, and the bus was stopped, and I was waiting intently for the stop sign to fold back in, because of course I wanted to proceed toward the high school, especially now that I was thinking that we were farther behind than usual, since I usually see this school bus on my way home. I was carefully watching and waiting when the car behind us pulled up and around us. And that is when I became Deeply Enraged.

It was like the Incredible Hulk. I mean, there are so many kids on that street in the morning. And they are not all entirely terrific at staying out of the street. And I lost it a little bit, because I honked.

I hardly ever honk my horn. It has become almost comical with M, because as she’s learned to drive and then become a driver, she frequently urges me to the honk the horn when drivers do something stupid, and I very rarely do. If someone’s doing something dangerous, my first priority is to focus on braking or swerving or whatever. If someone is looking at their phone as the light goes from red to green, I will say, “Okay. . . light’s green. . . time to move along. . . .” and flutter my hands in a shooing motion before resorting to a polite tap on the horn. And I know that honking in a residential neighborhood is annoying, so I avoid that, too. This morning, though, I was so pissed that I rage-honked.

But that is not all. Because the driver was right ahead of me, and this driver was also going to the high school. And I was behind them. Still just fuming. “Oh, my gosh, I’m going to talk to them,” I said. “No, Mom, don’t!” M urged. Sure. She’s all for honking. But a more personalized interaction is too humiliating.

And then, as fate would have it, we were caught at the long red light waiting to get into the school driveway. And so I put it into park and walked up to the car.

Okay, first? I understand that this is sort of a lunatic move. And I guess I was being age-ist, because I think I just assumed that it was going to be a teenage driver. Someone who needed some guidance. Someone who wasn’t sure of the rules and needed a parent to keep them from causing a disaster that could scar them emotionally for life if they actually hit a kid. I thought I was going to be The Village.

Well, nope. It was a middle-aged woman (who should have know better!) who rolled down her window and knew that she was wrong and probably thought that I was a potentially violent whack job. She was apologetic and said that she thought I was just stopped in the road for no reason, she didn’t realize that it was because of the school bus. I literally said words to her along the lines of, “No, I was stopped because of the school bus, because that’s what we’re supposed to do. When the school bus stops, they put out the stop sign, and that tells you to stop. And you’re supposed to remain stopped until they retract the stop sign.” I was calm and polite and not yelling, and I have no idea what she said, but I remember that I literally explained again about what stop signs mean. And then I informed her that there are a ton of kids on that street. That I know a lot of kids on that street. And honestly, she kept talking back to me and finally I was like, “I’m sorry, I have to go, I want to get back in my car before the light changes.” And then I just made it back in time, I was literally buckling my seat belt after the green light changed and before the cars started to move.

M, who had been hunching down in embarrassment while I was outside of my car, started quizzing me about who it was. Upon finding out that it was an adult woman, M feared that it was a favorite teacher, and I said no, it wasn’t that teacher, I know that teacher. I don’t know who it was, but I presume faculty or staff, because there weren’t any kids in the car and they were heading into the school. So if you work at the high school and your coworker says that someone accosted them on their drive to school this morning? That was me. I did that.

But what about the leg? Well, in the process of raging and getting out of the car to talk with her, I had such a surge of adrenaline that both of my legs were shaking, and as I walked back to my car, my right calf cramped up so much that I was half-limping back to my car. And then when this violent cramp subsided, I was left with an injured calf.

I have pretty much been limping around, sucking down ibuprofen, and spilling food all over the floor ever since.

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