I need to introduce my constant companion in the Wild Wild West: the Grandpa-mobile (also affectionately known as “The Boat”).
The Mercury Grand Marquis – so old that when I called customer service even they didn’t know where to find the gas cap release button. They actually didn’t even know where to find that model’s handbook.
When I got here, the farm pretty much tossed me the keys to a spare vehicle and was like “see ya!” without checking up on minor details like my driving or navigational prowess. So, even though I have a NY state license, I really learned to drive in Arizona, and also to do all the other things that happen when you’re driving:
- Shoulder dancing
- Talking to yourself
- Talking to your car
- Talking to the other cars and their drivers
- Flipping the bird (but not really because of all the guns around here)
I particularly love my Grandpa-mobile because of the incongruousness of a young woman who drives a 90s cop-style car like a blind old lady. Example: when I’m on the highway I speed a little bit. Nothing major. I’m never the biggest speeder, so if the fuzz comes along I can always be like “that guy was doing it worse!” But I admit that I view speed limits as a suggested range rather than, you know, the law. Frequently, a car will come right up behind me, with his lights all blinding, and just sit. On. My. Tail. Almost 100% of the people who do this are in a truck (which is not saying much because about 80% of the cars out here are pickup trucks anyway). And a lot of times I could simply speed up, but somewhere when I was learning to drive in Arizona I picked up the art of self-righteous driving, which goes like this:
I’m already speeding.
Mr. Pickup Truck is basically sitting in my backseat.
“I’m not going to speed more just because you are in a rush,” I say out loud, to myself but really to him. “You should have left earlier and that’s not my problem.”
“You, Mr. Pickup Truck, are the type of guy who I would point out is ‘doing it worse’ when the po-po need to fill their monthly ticket quotas by venturing closer to the border* than usual.”
So for a while I pretend I don’t see him even though his nose hairs are visible in my rear-view mirror. I continue to sing and shoulder dance. Eventually I move on over and then comes my favorite part: without fail, when Mr. Pickup Truck draws parallel he glances over in my direction to get a visual of this blind old bat who didn’t know she was in the fast lane and made him late. For my part, I slap a big toothy ole’ smile on my face and wave with spirit fingers and say “Haaaiiiiiiii.” And Mr. Pickup Truck’s face just absolutely makes my day.
Now, Mr. Pickup Truck is sometimes Mrs. Minivan or a Bunch of Bros, and the other day I actually got to play this game with an 18-wheeler. The results are more or less the same, and the Grandpa-mobile and I always ride happily into the sunset**.
*Things I have observed while living 30 miles from Mexico: traffic cops never go close to the border because Border Patrol is all over that. Border Patrol won’t stop you for speeding because they are not concerned with unlawful citizens, as they are more interested arresting in law-abiding non-citizens. So, if you’re near the border in Arizona and you’re speeding, Border Patrol just thinks: “that person must be a US citizen, because an undocumented immigrant in these here parts would know better than to speed, because then they would get pulled over for a ticket and get busted.” So go ahead and speed at the border if you’re an American, because Freedom!
**We literally drive into the sunset, since there is nothing to block it because there are no skyscrapers. Every day at rush hour hundreds of people pile into their cars and drive into the pretty but blinding sun and, sometimes, into each other.