The World Goes on

… Even When Traffic Stops
By Jeff Salter

Unlike Micki, I have not had — or can’t remember — any significant experience at a traffic light.  [Hers — see Monday’s post — had to do with a career change, for Heaven’s sake.]  But I do watch people … those to my left, to my right, in front of me, and (thru my mirror) directly behind.

Rear-View Mirror
For one thing (in the mirror), I often catch the eyes of the person behind me.  That makes me wonder if he/she has already been watching ME.  And then I wonder WHY? So I usually act nonchalant and make a point of looking all other directions, so that spy behind me won’t think I was looking at him/her.  But of course, I WAS.  LOL

No Driver
I recall one time I pulled up to the rear of a car (at a light) and couldn’t see a driver!  For an instant I wondered if the car had been abandoned or something, since I had not noticed it in front of me prior to the light.  So when the light changed and that car took off, I was naturally VERY curious to see what robotic (or remote control) device was piloting it.
When I was able, I switched lanes and pulled up beside that sedan.  Yep, there was a driver after all.  Little ole lady — seriously, folks — so short that the top of her head could not be seen because of the seat-back head rest.  [You’d have thought I could see her arms or hands on the steering wheel, but this woman was TINY!]  I still wonder how on earth she could SEE the road!

Fiddling
I also recall being intrigued as I followed a car for several lights down Highway 27 (our main thoroughfare here).  At each light, the female driver would lean WAAAYY over and fiddle with something either on the seat near the passenger door … or possibly on the floor of that footwell.  I never could see WHAT she was fiddling with, but it occupied a lot of her time and attention.  I began to suspect she was dressing a small child or feeding a pet.  If the latter, for some reason, I figured it must be something like a ferret.  Not sure why.

They’re Watching ME
But I guess the strangest experience at a light was not what I observed about someone else … but, rather, what they seemingly observed about me.
Yeah, me.  After my work shift one afternoon, I was driving home from the library in downtown Shreveport.  As I sometimes did, I had a bag of M&M Peanuts which I ripped open and placed between my thighs, in the safest position (to keep from spilling) … next to my crotch.
Well, I’d started eating the M&Ms as I left the parking lot, so by the time I reached the light at the foot of the Texas St. Bridge, I had only a few M&Ms left.  You probably already know this, but the ones way down in the bottom of that little bag are sometimes very difficult to retrieve.  So I my hand was angled oddly and I even had my shoulder in the act, to dig down there and clutch those final one or two morsels.
It was then that I became aware of a city bus in the lane right next to me.  Buses, of course, are much higher than a Chevy Impala, which is what I had at the time.  So the people on the right side of that bus were looking down into the front seat of my car … intently watching my hand digging around in the area of my crotch.
It actually took me a moment to imagine what they must have thought I was doing, but you can be certain nobody guessed I was digging for M&Ms.
Had the bus not taken off at that instant (because the light had changed), I’m pretty sure I would have held up the empty M&M bag to SHOW those eaves-dropping spectators what my hand was doing around my crotch.  But, alas, I never had that chance.
I’m sure in the lore of bus-riders in Shreveport, there are still some who swear they saw a guy in a Chevy (at a light near the bridge) … and it sure did look like he was playing with himself.

Question:
What was YOUR strangest experience at a traffic light?  Was it something you saw someone else doing?  or were you — like me — trapped in incriminating-looking circumstances?

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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45 Responses to The World Goes on

  1. We’ve been a bad influence on you,Jeff! That is the most risque’ story I have ever heard you tell! FUNNY!
    You’ll have to wait until Friday to hear the little I have to say. (You are right, this week Micki kind of hit the high-point at the beginning of the week;the rest of us are pretty anti-climatic!)
    But since you mentioned the rear-view mirror I can tell this story on myself. I am a born-and-bred suburbanite, unused to this rural area that has built up considerably in the nearly 19 years I have lived here. Most of the state highway that leads to my house is still pretty dark.It was TOTALLY dark when I first moved down the road from town and not once, not twice, but the first several times I drove home at night and glanced in the rear view mirror and saw NOTHING but total darkness, I had a moment of panic, thinking that I had suddenly gone blind! I felt more like a fool than anything, amazed each time at myself for stupidity, but congratulating myself for not swerving off the road or having a heart attack.
    Brother!

    Like

  2. jbrayweber says:

    No traffic light stories to report. But I did witness a driver on a busy tollway shaving at 70 mph – the old fashion way. Complete with the brush, shaving cream, cup of water, and razor!

    Jenn!

    Like

    • jeff salter says:

      Shaving at 70 mph? with a RAZOR?
      Are you sure that wasn’t a “reality show”?
      Ha.
      But seriously, people who do all those things while they pretend to drive are a terrible hazard, but not only to themselves. Hazardous to the rest of us on the streets & highways.

      Like

  3. Denise says:

    At a traffic stop in an busy Shreveport intersection picture a small Mazda crammed with young adults all with their tee shirt necks pulled up and covering their nose and mouth while the window passengers are frantically rolling down the windows! Ask Jeff. He was the driver!!

    Like

  4. Jeanne Theunissen says:

    The only memorable experience I can recall at a traffic light was when I was stopped at a light on Hwy 59 (in Diboll, Texas, I think). I was in the left lane of a divided highway, and there were cars to the right of me, and the median to the left. Suddenly I saw flashing lights and heard a screaming siren behind me. I could tell that ambulance was in a hurry, so the only choice I had to get out of its way was to run the light, which I did. (After carefully checking to see that the cars going the other way were going to stop, of course…)

    Like

    • jeff salter says:

      You did the right thing, Jeanne. I hope you weren’t ticketed for that red light …

      Like

      • Jeanne Theunissen says:

        No cops in sight this time, so yeah I got away with it… Just shrugged my shoulders at the ambo driver as he sped past me.

        That does remind me of something else that happened when I was still a teenager, though. I wanted to make a U-turn on a divided highway. (There was a freeway running down the middle of this highway, so had to turn onto another road and make a left from there.) Anyway, I had forgotten that the road I was turning onto was also divided, and turned one lane too soon. Oops… Then as I’m sitting at the light, realising all the cars on the other side of the light are facing me, I look over to my right and see a cop sitting right there… looking at me. Aw, crap… So as soon as the light turned green, I quickly made my left turn and pulled over, waiting for him. I knew he had me, so no sense running… When he walked up to my window, I already had my license and rego in hand, and started apologising profusely for my mistake. He just looked at me and said “Do you think you can keep this thing on your own side of the road from now on?” I said I thought so, and he let me go. Whew! (Probably realised I was just a dumb kid…)

        And Kay Springsteen, if you are reading this, it was at Schoolcraft and Outer Drive.

        Like

      • jeff salter says:

        Great recollection, Jeanne.
        Hmm. wonder if that ploy would work for me the next I’m guilty of a traffic infraction.

        Like

  5. Lol Jeff, on your M&M story. I got nothin’. The only crazy thing I do is drive with a diva Chihuahua standing on my lap, trying to look out the window.

    Like

  6. Sherry Gloag says:

    Oh that’s a scream. Can’t think of a story to share. But enjoyed reading everyone elses.

    Like

  7. Lindsay says:

    No traffic light story but once I did watch a man eat his dinner, obviously a home cooked meal considering the plate along with the knife and fork weren’t paper or ones from a diner, as he was driving. He was holding the plate with one hand while eating with the other. I can only assume he was using his legs to steer the car.
    Oh, and this was on the highway with a speed limit of 60 and he was in the middle lane.

    Like

  8. Opal says:

    Hubby and I were stopped a a light in our town. Four lanes plus a turn lane. While sitting at the light hubby decided it would be funny to…….”Tweak”. Now, I chuckled because hubby is always patting my hind end or giving a goose…however that particular day in the oncoming lane on the other side of the intersection was an elderly woman who CLEARLY saw my hubby’s assessment of my melon. She must have found it really funny because the longer she looked at us the harder she laughed.

    I of course was mortified that someone saw my hubby getting friendly at the intersection but hubby just laughed and said we probably made that woman’s day 🙂

    Like

  9. Meg Mims says:

    ROTFL over your M&M incident, Jeff!! hahahahaha! And Opal’s too. I can’t say I was ever “caught” in the act doing anything weird. However, just today, I was driving home and the guy behind me (seen via rearview mirror) was like GRINNING — that wide, “do I have something stuck in my teeth” kind of grin, and looking around, and KEPT ON grinning until I finally turned. TG. I was beginning to worry. Oh well

    Like

    • jeff salter says:

      Welcome, Meg.
      That story about the ‘grinner’ is kinda spooky.
      We had a friend who was driving home (from another city) late at night on the interstate. Some guy zoomed past her and then got in front and slowed down. So naturally she had to pass him. Then he did the same thing. Again he zoomed arund her and slowed down in front. They did that 3 times before our friend (a female) left the interestate and drove to a place with lots of lights and lots of people.
      Still don’t know what that guy’s game was.

      Like

    • Jeanne Theunissen says:

      Maybe the guy got a dose of that same poison the Joker was using in that Batman movie…

      Like

      • jeff salter says:

        don’t recall that movie scene, Jeanne.

        Like

      • Jeanne Theunissen says:

        I didn’t actually see the movie myself, but wasn’t the Joker’s grin due to some sort of chemical he had been exposed to? Thought I read in the synopsis somewhere that he planned to use that same thing on other people, but I could be mistaken…

        Like

      • jeff salter says:

        Lost me, Hon. Sorry.
        I saw the two Michael Keaton Batman movies. Then saw Val Kilmer’s version. Saw bits of Geo. Clooney. After that I was too bummed to be bothered.

        Like

      • Jeanne Theunissen says:

        I never watched any of the Batman movies, but I could still swear I read somewhere that the Joker’s face was due to some sort of chemical accident… I’ll have to look it up sometime. As far as I’m concerned Adam West was the one and only Batman.

        Like

      • Jeanne Theunissen says:

        Okay, according to what I’ve been reading, this happened in the print version of the Joker, not the movie version…

        Like

      • jeff salter says:

        Print version? So, perhaps one of the graphic novels. I was reading the Batman comic books in the late 50s & early 60s. By then the Joker was already well-established and I don’t recall any flashbacks which explained much about his history.

        Like

      • Jeanne Theunissen says:

        Here are a couple of excerpts from the Wikipedia page:

        The first origin account, Detective Comics #168 (February 1951), revealed that the Joker had once been a criminal known as the Red Hood. In the story, he is a chemical engineer looking to steal from the company that employs him and adopts the persona of Red Hood. After committing the theft, which Batman thwarts, he falls into a vat of chemical waste. He emerges with bleached white skin, red lips, green hair and a persistent grin.

        His most prominent weapon is his Joker venom, a deadly poison that infects his victims with a ghoulish rictus grin as they die while laughing uncontrollably. The venom comes in many forms, from gas to darts to liquid poison, and has been his primary calling card from his first appearance. The Joker is immune to every known venom as well as to his own laughing toxin; in Batman #663, Morrison writes that “being an avid consumer of his products, the Joker’s immunity to poisons has been built up over years of dedicated abuse”.

        Like

      • jeff salter says:

        Wow. Great job on the research, Jeanne. Thanks for sharing.

        Like

  10. Jeanne Theunissen says:

    Oh, and see, Jeff? The M&Ms always get you in trouble … “(While I was) gnoshing on M&Ms, somebody else thought I was doing something nasty…”

    Like

  11. I once moved my kennel of 8 terriers from one house to another. All the terriers HAD to touch me as I drove. I kept picking them up and tossing them over the seat, pushing them off me but they were like hydras and I swear I had more like 32 dogs by the time I arrived at the new house. I know I must have grown a bunch of arms. Then there was the time I was driving home from Michigan to Maryland and hit the mountains – nighttime (the best travel time) and very foggy. And I kept shying away from the edge of the road to avoid the bike riding ducks. My daughter very wisely made me pull over and rest at the next exit.

    Like

  12. LOL! I love the m and ms story!!!!!!!!

    Like

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