Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Streets of Montana: Every Day is a Battle

Maybe it's just me being pessimistic, but one of the reasons I love getting up every day is so that I can be around people. You might be saying, "that doesn't sound very pessimistic, Dave!"

Let me finish.

Sure, I love people. I celebrate differences and I embrace quirks; I love most people I meet, and I mean I really do value them for their friendship, their insights, and their company. I could not be a hermit. But one of the real reasons I love to be around people is so that I can learn a new pet peeve every day.

It probably means I'm bitter or irritable. I don't think that's it; I think it means I think I'm better than most people. Whatever it is, I'm not proud of it, so lay off me.

I've always had pet peeves, and like most pet peeves, they involve people you interact with as you go about your day, and they happen somewhat regularly. I've always known that I get irritated when people interrupt constantly, or when they are consistently negative. From loud cell phone talkers to slow drivers in the fast lane, we all have a few things that just bug us. They're pretty universal, and there's nothing rare about them.

But I just learned a new one tonight. I was driving home from my church group, and a souped-up Mustang about 10-years-old pulled up fast beside me and slowed down to my speed. He periodically revved his engine and sped past me, only to slow back down to my speed. When we stopped at a red light, he was in the left lane and I was in the right. He rolled down his passenger side window and the first thing I saw was his friend showing off his flip phone to me. It was awesome.

Then I realized these two were probably gangsters, as they had hats on somewhat sideways and each gave me a look like they wanted to kill me. I was certain they would if given the opportunity, so I was careful not to make eye contact. Just then, the driver revved the engine again, this time with his foot on the brake. The car lunged slightly like a caged animal. Impressed, I finally rolled down my window.

For a split second, there was tension. Surely they saw my Toyota Camry and thought I was returning to my farm house south of Kalispell, Montana following a violent drug deal with some Colombians. Or perhaps I was a pimp, or maybe even a hit man. The point is, when you see a Toyota Camry on the street, you need to challenge that person if you want to be the top dog on the street. If you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best.

I broke the tension with a large smile and an enthusiastic wave, followed by an aggressive thumbs-up. Big mistake.

The light changed and the Mustang Mafia screeched away, leaving me with a lot of work ahead of me if I was going to prove my manhood on the rough-and-tumble streets of South Kalispell. As I passed the Ranch and Home store and then the boat dealership, I realized I might just not be tough enough for this hard-knock town.

But just then, they slowed down and let me catch up. I gave another thumbs-up, clearly impressed with his ability to beat me in a race. But he showed me again who was boss. That was the point where I realized that, even though I drive a super-tough Toyota Camry, work for a non-profit children's home, go to church, have a blog, and play lots of golf, there is still somebody out there even tougher than me. Or maybe I just don't have that much to prove, who knows?

For once, this post is actually entirely true. I tell the story to show my newest pet peeve: when guys try to prove their manhood by racing strangers in family cars. That's like playing one-on-one against a blind guy with no arms and legs and talking trash when you win. It's just one of those pet-peeves I would have never thought I had unless somebody actually went there.


  1. Haha! I needed this laugh to break my brain frying!!

  2. Ang and I are dying of laughter... thank you!

  3. You haven't lived until you engage in one of Gordy and mine 'race you home' events. It starts out innocently enough - for many years we have had to travel in 2 cars - because we have so many kids...and then he gets that glint in his eye...and NO ONE is going to beat ME! Down the back roads or main road (Gordy ALWAYS uses the main road) we race each other to see who gets home first - with the kids yelling and laughing, all buckled in of course...wait, ok, that's all there is to this story ~

  4. Montana, you stay classy!