BRAKE FOR FREEDOM

26 Mar

 

Work’s over and it’s time to go. I gun the engine, turn up the sounds, check my look in the mirror, pull the booger out of my nose, adjust my sun glasses and head for the hills. 

Another day, another dollar. 

Appreciative as I am of real work in a labor market that has seen better days, the end of the week is the end of the week. A thing to be costered and appreciated, a moment of thanks-giving where I bow down to the gods of labor, thank them for their blessings and excuse myself for the debauchery I intend to wreak over the next three days. Time devoted to personal projects, sleeping in, enjoying family life and home as opposed to the confines and restrictions of the workplace. 

In the words of the ever-so-eloquent Mel Gibson, “Freedom.” 

I can hear flights of Valkyries buzzing through my speakers as I make for the exit and hasten my retreat. 

I make the first traffic light with time to spare, tires squealing through the crossing as the light turns a darker shade of red. I’m in a 45 mph zone, so 70 mph is probably acceptable. I quickly maneuver around a couple of colleagues who obviously don’t have the same burning desire to get home as I do. Probably have a nagging wife or screaming kids – a weekend of chores and honey-dos. Poor bastards; domestic help as well as wage slaves- probably better to end it all. Why continue to shoulder the burden? 

Ignoring the honked horns and gesticulations I press forward. They may be colleagues but it isn’t a marriage and therefore I don’t have to adjust accordingly and accept the status-quo of live and let live. We’ll pick up our forced relationship on Monday at the start of the new work week. But for now they’re nobody – out of sight, out of mind. A forgotten reminder of voluntary enslavement. 

Second light is up and my luck’s holding. Through a green and onto the open highway that will see me safely home. Half an hour of alone time with the radio blaring – thoughts on nothing except the strange lyrics in the new Britney Spears song. The fields whizz past, nothing but the monochromatic of the oh-so-picturesque Arizona desert landscape. A joy to behold, especially when it’s knocking off time. Not so much when heading to work in the morning. 

I look in the mirror and notice the headlights of a car behind; the driver must have pushed right behind me when I ran the last red. Clearly he’s a keen observer of weekend etiquette, eager to supplicate himself before the altar of doing absolutely nothing. I know I can beat him to the next stoplight and so depress the accelerator and push the car forward. The tenacious bastard sticks with me so I drop a gear, throw a sneer and maneuver ahead. Luckily my purchase of the How to Drive Like James Hunt C.D. has paid off and I’ve made at least five meters on him as I pull up to the stop. Might not be important here but imagine if this was Silverstone or Indianapolis, then my technique would count for something.

I have the traffic lights down – I’ve cracked the sequence. The Enigma of reds and greens in a supposed sequence is something I have been watching for years. The right turn is always a little slow, however once the green arrow pops up then the oncoming lane turns red. Mathematical genius and a keen eye have given me the edge, and the nano-second the light turns my foot hits the floor. 

The cars these days are all fly by wire which means even though I think I am giving the car more gas all I am really doing is decreasing the resistance between the gas solenoid and the engine. As soon as the electrons leap from my pedal and across the microchip I’m off. Not quite as sexy as the smell of burning rubber and the stench of unburnt fuel racing through carburetors, however it’ll do. 

The race is on, the crowd cheers and I gun the car like a spear through the straight, past the 45mph signs before accelerating through the 50. My competitor closes behind me, clearly miffed that I jumped to pole position at the lights. Obviously a man with a grudge and someone I shouldn’t have taken lightly. 

I know I can beat him, it’s just a matter of how and when. I ease up slightly and the car begins to slow. The racing commentator Murray Walker virtually perched on my shoulder can’t believe what I’m doing and voices his distress into the microphone of my mind.

“What the hell’s he doing?  He’s going to lose this race if he doesn’t pick up speed! Theres still all to play for here.” 

The vehicle behind glides out of my slipstream, drops a gear, and cruises past me. I glance sideways and see the grin on my competitor’s face. The track is clear, the race is his. The laurels, the girls, the  champagne – all his for the taking. 

Again Murray Walker screams in my ears, “He’s lost it, thrown it all away!” 

However Murray doesn’t know what I know. Having travelled this road for the past seven years there’s a couple of twists and turns my competitor isn’t aware of. 

As his car disappears into the distance past the clump of cactus on the side of the road, he has nothing but victory on his mind. I give it time and then smile, as I see the dust cloud rise up from the right side of the road, closely followed by the flash of blue and red lights. 

There is no escaping the cop car that has joined the race and my nemesis realizes his mistake too late. He has no choice – he decelerates and pulls across to the side. The image of the police officer stepping out of his vehicle is the last thing I see before passing them both. 

The victory siren goes off in my head – Murray slaps me on the back and I head for home. 

Always nice to finish the week on a high note.

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