…of Love in my pink Cadillac!
Sicilian driving is the stuff of legend, or urban myth, depending on your viewpoint. I’m pretty sure Aretha Franklin would take it all with a measured “ah ha, ah ha!” or a “Here we go!” or even a “Drop the pedal and go!”
As sound as all of her exclamations are, none of them were much aid during our commute home from work this evening. I work in a busy, bustling office, where I am surrounded by radio playing, officemates chatting, phones ringing, conference calls blasting over speakerphone, and with my pleasant charm and chatty nature, several visitors to my incredibly open cubicle in the high-traffic area of our office space. As such, I prefer to drive the homeward commute in order to relax from the day. As much an oxymoron as it sounds to use a busy drive home to unwind from a busy office; on the autostrada, I have ever slightly more control of my environment than I do in the office.
Today’s traffic was extreme. It is the eve of the Italian summer holiday, Ferragosto (roll those r’s), when legions of Italians take advantage of the national holiday, the heat of the summer, and the ubiquitous beaches. In droves, Sicilians were fleeing Catania for family homes in the country, fancy to low-budget beach resorts (more low-budget this year due to flailing economy), or a campsite. About 1.5 miles from the toll booth we normally traverse with our Telepass with the most minor of pauses, we came to a screeching stop as brake lights flashed suddenly ahead of us.
My tires did not actually screech, but I quickly threw on my hazard flashers (because Italians heed this warning, pun intended). I glanced in my rearview mirror and left space in front of my car…to ensure that even if I were rear-ended, I would not slam into the car ahead of me. To my relief, I saw the first three cars coming up behind me also put on their hazard flashers, and I let out my breath and slowly crept up on the car in front of me. A millisecond later, I heard the screeching tires and let my foot off the brake. Can you tell that I am paranoid of being rear-ended?! (That’ll happen after you work for personal injury lawyers!) Fortunately, the screecher screeched to a screechy halt and all was well.
After about a 20-minute delay, we broke free from the bumper to bumper grind and proceeded home. The good-natured folk we are, Dave and I tried to make the best of the situation. Aside from grumbling “this fucking sucks” a few times, I did enjoy my newly purchased Diana Krall album “The Girl in the Other Room,” managed to notice some graffiti I had not seen before, watched a trucker ditch his garbage directly into the bougainvillea bushes growing between autostrada lanes. I also appreciated this “poisonous material” warning sign (presumably that is the message).
Whatever’s in this truck will sure as shit kill your fishies and your trees
Luckily, I wasn’t near the truck with this symbol when the screeching tires were freaking me out. In any case, it was a truly Sicilian drive home, but I could only think of Aretha Franklin. Sing it, sister, sing it.