Tales from the Driver’s Side: Confessions of a ride share driver. Chapter One: The times I pushed it too far. (Rough)

Chapter One:

Times I pushed it too far.

(Or: Planes, Trains, and WTF is that??)

With a job like this, and a desperate for business as I was, I found myself often pushing the hours and telling myself “One more ride.” One turns into two, three, etc. Several times I got too caught up and really needing to stop, but I just kept pushing. I would think about the the things that motivated me to keep going and I would do it for those reasons. (I have kids to feed.) But the difference between being successful in this career and being on the news the next morning is knowing when enough is enough; knowing when you are too tired. Often, I would push that line. Very stupidly, I would flirt with disaster and take risks I should have never have taken. It should have taken just one incident to keep me from repeating mistakes but I’m a slow learner apparently. Several times I have told myself “I’m done, go home” just to pull away from the drop off and have another request come in after hour eleven and have me screaming at my phone. I would start work at 5PM just to be turning down rides at 4AM that were coming in so often, I couldn’t turn the app off. I am very grateful and lucky that I did not have any accidents or other tragedies during these times. The Universe has other plans for me. But these are a few times where I should have stuck to my plan. Enjoy, and learn from my mistakes.

Fatigued driving can be just as deadly as drunk driving. Know your limits, don’t be stupid. I made mistakes and I would not suggest that anyone try it. I regret doing it, and I am not trying to glamorize it. I now make extra efforts to prevent driving while tired and have spent many hours sleeping in parking lots or on the side of the road if I’m too tired. Life is too precious to waste being foolish.

Blue light special, part one.

Driving in a major city with so many large outlying cities you can get stuck going from downtown to a city 30 minutes away and getting stuck doing rides in that city for hours, just trying to get back to familiar territory but not willing to turn down rides. I ended up in a hateful relationship with one city my first big weekend driving, and found myself actively avoiding this place from then on. Seriously, fuck this place. I had taken a call from downtown big city to this little artsy town. (That story is in here, too. The one about the guy verbally assaulting and trying to fight me for missing an exit.) So, using context clues here, we can assume I’m already pissed off. After dropping of that failed abortion, I got another call from a house to a bar that was closed then back to his house; then a call from a bar to a different house. The downtown area of this city was very nice and well kept-up, decorated with string lights everywhere. The ambiance was pleasing, and I thought it might calm me. So I decided, “One more and I’m done.” That one more came a moment later, pick up at a bus depot…on a hill…that I couldn’t get to. I followed the GPS step by step and the place it took me was the middle of the road at the bottom of the hill. I contacted the client who informed me that he couldn’t help, he had never been there before. But it was okay, I had time, because this douche nozzle was still on the fucking bus. After 20 minutes, several illegal U-turns, and screaming myself horse, I may have hopped a curb into a parking lot and found the bus depot.

The client got in the car and I knew this might be comical. He was extremely well-manned (kept calling me “Sir,” felt like I was back in the South), but he was a big one. As he approached, I pulled the passenger seat up so that he and his luggage could easily fit in the back seat. (I had a hatchback at the time, not much trunk space.) As I’m making room for him, he places his bags in the back seat and greets me; then proceeds to get in the front seat, which I just made smaller. As he wedges himself in and knocks me around trying to buckle his seat belt, I mention that the seat slides back so he can have more room. I think the same thought dawned on us simultaneously; neither of us could reach the lever and it would be too much work to get back out. So he clicked his door to a slight close. (You know, the first click, where the door’s not fully secure but the cabin lights go off.) So off we go, and I spend the next eleven minutes jamming my shift knob further into this guys leg with every gear. To make things worse, I’m pressed against my door at an angle so my foot keeps sliding off the gas and we are basically arm in arm just for me to shift. I get him to his parent’s apartment and that’s it. I’m done. But the calls keep coming. I have no idea where I am or where I’m going. I’ve turned down a couple of rides, just trying to find the interstate. For some reason, I don’t turn the app off though.

No interstate in sight, I end up back at the bus depot somehow and know that from there I can make it back to civilization. Not much of one, but they have bars and string lights. I pull up to where shopping centers and street lights exist again, just getting excited about the possibility of making it to the interstate and back home (Yes, I put directions in the GPS, it was just far away and I could handle it myself after I found the interstate) when another fucking request comes in. I take my hands off the wheel to pull my hair out and scream at my phone. I swerved a little, corrected, and for some reason accepted the ride anyway. What the fuck is wrong with me? I didn’t give swerving a second thought because I was the only idiot on the road, but once again, I was wrong. I hear tires screech like the movies and the interior of my car was filled with a fantastic shade of blue strobe lights like an epileptic dance party.

I have tremendous respect for law enforcement, as well as all first responders for everything that they do to keep us safe. And if you don’t, fuck you. So I calmly pull over to the side of the road and roll down my window while collecting my paperwork and canceling the ride I was on. A rather young and attractive female officer approaches my window and I decide it’s time to lay on the Southern Charm and flirt my way out of this one. She shines that million-candle power light in my fucking face so I can’t see a fucking thing and identifies herself as DUI patrol.

“I saw you swerve a little back there. Had anything to drink tonight?”

“No, ma’am. I am actually a driver for [insert ride share company name here]. I took my hand off the wheel for a second to accept a ride and I guess I moved too much.” I say as I gesture towards my phone, drawing her attention to the open app. “I am terribly sorry about that, ma’am.” I smile at her and she smiles back.

“I gotcha. I’m glad that there are drivers like you out there. We have noticed less DUI’s around here lately because of it.”

“Well I am glad I could be of service, ma’am.” I smile thickly at her. (I’m just in it for the money.)

“I’ll tell you what,” she smiles back again, “I’ll just do a quick warrant check on your license and get you on your way. Sound good?”

“I greatly appreciate that, ma’am.”

She heads back to her cruiser and I joke to myself something about hoping she doesn’t find out about the trail of dead hookers I leave in my wake. Then something happens that pushes me out of my good mood. I get another fucking request. “You have got to be fucking kidding me! Hell naw! Fuck you and fuck your drunk ass wanting to go home you can fucking walk you piece of shit.” I shout quite loudly as I decline the ride. About that time my lady in Kevlar armor comes back and hands me my ID.

“So, why’d you turn me down?”

“I’m sorry? I wasn’t aware an offer was being made?” (But if there is one, your car and keep the utility belt on.)

She pulls out her personal phone. “I sent you a request. Just trying to see if you were trying to get one over on me.”

“Oh, wow! That was you? Yeah, I couldn’t accept it. It seems I’ve been bad and gotten myself into a little trouble with the law.” Down boy.

Then it hits me…

“You didn’t hear all those things I said did you?”

“Every word.”

“Ma’am, I am so sorry. It has been an extremely long night.”

“I understand completely. But I don’t feel like walking home. I might need a ride.”

Get the fuck out of here. Did she just?

She pats the top of my car as she walks away and wishes me a good night. I giggle to myself a little about what just transpired and wave to her as she passes me. I’d like to say there was potential there, but I’m not that naive, I did a ring check. And, as it turns out, I was wearing one. I found the interstate about fifteen minutes later.

Blue light special, part two.

Fatigue can lead to a lapse in sound judgment, or so I’m told. One hectic night, I was feeling a little drained, but not sleepy, so I pound an energy drink and keep going. I had picked up a ride from a bar downtown whose friends took off and left him there. You know, like friends do. So I scooped him up and we headed on our way. He was basically a kid, barely out of High School and out from his mother’s teat to join the U.S. Military; to which I applaud him for. You could tell he was still wet behind the ears and didn’t really know much of the ways of the world. He was incredibly polite and respectful, just like a young Soldier should be. So, to make conversation he started telling me “War Stories” from Basic Training. Cute. But pretentious.

I don’t talk much about what I do outside of being a ride share driver, it’s not really any ones business and I try to remain as anonymous as possible. But this kid and I share a common profession. The difference is I’ve been doing it about a dozen years longer than this kid and have real war stories. So hearing about how hard basic training is makes me giggle and I have to repress saying the phrase: “Just wait, kid. It gets worse.” I’ll talk more about that another time.

He’s a young, single guy, so naturally he lives in the Barracks of the local military station and I start heading that way. As we get closer to the installation, he starts to worry about how I’m going to get through the gate. Like I said, don’t talk about that side of me much.

“You’re heading towards a side gate, you’ve gotta go to the main gate and get a pass.”

“No I don’t.”

“Oh, do you have a taxi pass or something? You’re gonna have to get inspected. You don’t have anything in here do you?”

“There’s a dead hooker in the back. And no, no pass, no inspection.”

We pull up to the gate and a Military Police Soldier approaches my vehicle. I recognize him immediately, as it’s the third time I’ve seen him tonight.

“Man, you don’t understand. This is a Military Installation. We have rules.”

I hand the MP, my military identification and he looks it over and makes a crack about being on “drunk patrol” before handing back my ID and letting us through. The cat is out of the bag, so naturally he has a lot of questions. His career is just starting and I’ve been at it for a while. I make my way towards his barracks building and he starts asking career advice, to which I steer him in the right direction the best I can. He’s a little hammered, so he probably won’t remember anyway. I’m cruising along right at the speed limit and his building comes into view. Or so I think. The fatigue is getting to me and I’m starting to feel sleepy and less attentive. Last ride, then home. But this douche canoe gave me the wrong building number and so as I’m passing the parking lot of his actual building he shouts: “Left right here!” and I roll a few feet into an opening and pull a quick left.

A quarter mile back in my rear view mirror I see the lights come on. Shit. My passenger looks behind us and asks if that’s for us and I just nod. Well, this is embarrassing. But I don’t really know what I did wrong. I wasn’t speeding, I wasn’t drunk, there’s not really a dead hooker in my trunk. But, I pull to a stop in the parking lot and gather my paperwork. The passenger is freaking out and completely forgets what transpired earlier while telling me that he told me I couldn’t go through that gate. Idiot. Getting a ticket on a military installation is bad JuJu, especially if you’re in the military. Let’s just leave it at they tell your Commander and shit rolls downhill.

I tell the kid to calm down and that I’ll handle it as the MP leans into my window. I didn’t get the cute, mousy female like last time. Nope, big black guy this go round. He leans down (he has to, he’s like 6’8”) and ask if I knew why I was being stopped to which I responded that I wasn’t sure while I handed him my paperwork. I explained to him that I am on duty as a ride share driver, that my passenger is my current customer and that this is his building and ask if he can go, because he had nothing to do with the situation. (Aside from giving me the wrong friggin’ address.) The MP was cool with it and the passenger tipped me and then got out of the vehicle and ran to the barracks. I mean sprinted. Like he was breaking out of Sing-Sing. The MP makes a crack about the passengers behavior and I tell him “You should go chase him down. He looks sketchy and slightly racist.” Luckily, he found it as funny as I did.

At this point, the MP informs me that I ran a stop sign. What stop sign? I didn’t see a stop sign. So he points it out to me, very respectfully, and it hits me. When that asshat made me turn before I expected to, I accelerated to get to a clear turn in and made a sharp left; lo and behold there is a stop sign on the left curb that I completely blew past. I wasn’t paying attention, I was tired and just wanted to get the ride over, now I’m in a heap of trouble. But looking back, it was obvious. There is definitely a fucking stop sign there. To make it worse, at this time I’d been stationed at this installation for about four years. I had stopped at that stop sign probably several hundred times. But I was tired and not paying attention.

The MP came back a few minutes later and had written me a warning, which doesn’t usually happen. But, hey, no phone call to my Commander. Score! I asked the MP why I was only getting a warning and he held his hand out and shook mine.

“Because of what you’re out here doing. Yeah, you’re making money off it. But that Soldier is safe, at home. His career isn’t ruined, I’m not cuffing him, and I’m not picking up his body parts. Yeah, it’s a job, but it’s also a good thing.”

Trying (and failing) to do the right thing, part one.

It had been a busy night in the big city, I got lost a few times, got called a communist, typical Saturday night. I did my usual stupidity and said “one more ride” at 3:30AM, over an hour from home. The request I got was from the south part of town, so I was hoping they were headed my direction and I could just do a drop off on the way. Not so much. Instead they had to catch a early morning flight, and the airport is half an hour in the other direction. I’m not making it home. The actual ride was uneventful, they mainly talked to each other while I dropped some eaves (eavesdropping, get it? Lord of the Rings fans do.) and let a Mystery Science Theater 3000-style commentary play in my head. We arrived at the gate and they left without really saying much at all. Which is cool, but doesn’t sell books. I left the terminal and was heading out. This particular airport is way out in the middle of nowhere but luckily has a 24-hour convenience store out by the parking lots. My genius idea was to pull in, sleep for a couple of hours, maybe rub one out, and wake up and get right back to it. It sounded good in my head.

I pulled into the parking lot away from everything, pulled up the emergency brake and laid my seat back. Did I mention I was at a major airport? Within seconds of closing my eyes I was jolted up by jet noise and my car being rocked, I look up to a Boeing 747 (it’s the one where first class is upstairs) taking off into the distance. It was a lovely sight as a clear dawn was approaching, but fucking inconvenient. I tried my best to get comfortable again for the next three minutes when another plane rocketed overhead. Well, this was a fucking great idea. So I said fuck it, I’ll get on the road, I’ve already got adrenaline pumping right now anyway. I walk in the store and grab a cup of coffee, which I never drink but it does the trick, especially with about 23 packets of sugar. I pull around and begin to gas up the car. The guy at the other side of the pump in one of those rock-crawler style Jeeps recognize my ride share company logo sticker in my windshield and gets my attention. He says he’s an avid customer and drivers have gotten him out of jams several times. He hands me a bottle of Gatorade, (“I can’t take it on the plane anyway.”) shakes my hand and goes on his way. Cool dude, I should cancel plans on him some time.

I prepared accordingly to make it home, already deciding that I am going to take the next day off, I grabbed my coffee; a 5-hour Energy, and 2 big ass Red Bulls and cranked up my rice-burner. Armed with a ridiculous amount of caffeine, a pack of cigarettes, and KoRn Unplugged in the CD player, I headed out; a man on an ill-advised mission. Fuck it. Let’s do it. I poured the 5-hour into my coffee because I hate the taste of both, cranked up the jams, rolled down the windows to get the cold wind in my face and hit the road responsibly for the time being. By the time I hit the interstate, half a Red Bull and most of my coffee was gone and I am wired for fucking sound. I can’t decide if my body is shaking from the cold or the caffeine, but it is fucking go time! I’m in cruise control so I don’t speed too much but I am bouncing off the friggin walls. I’ve got one hand on the wheel, the other out the window waving and pointing at passing cars while I’m yelling “Good Morning!” to everyone I pass. About twenty miles from my house, I begin to feel really nauseous and have accepted the idea that my heart could potentially explode at any second; if the aneurysm doesn’t get me first. But I’m not sleepy, I’m ultra-attentive, and I’m going to make it home. My hands are locked in at 10 and 2 on the wheel and I am no longer able to blink. All of my caffeine is gone and I am really thankful for that Gatorade.

I pull up to the house I’m living in temporarily and head to my room in the basement. I’m trying not to wake anyone but I am stepping on everything in site (or lack thereof; I didn’t turn the lights on) and every time I do, I’m jumping four feet in the friggin air because I am easily startled in this state. I wonder why sarcastically to myself. I get to my room and get naked for bed, then it hits me. Two Red Bulls, a Gatorade, and a 5-hour coffee cocktail all in less than ninety minutes. So I skip to my bathroom, but not before making a circle around the basement because the idea of skipping around naked made me giggle. I get in position and get into a three-point stance that you typically only get into when you’re drunk and have to piss. In fact, that’s how I know my buzz is kicking in, if I’m standing at the the toilet or urinal and I’ve got my feet more than shoulder-width apart, one hand aiming my junk, (you need to aim when you’re drunk) and the other hand on the wall (or car, or tree, or random person) in front of you, holding you up so you don’t fall into your own piss. I usually stand like Superman to pee. All majestic, with my hands on my hips, dicks out for Harambe, and my cape flowing in the breeze.

As I’m holding myself up and starting to go, I’ve been holding it so long that it’s one of those “feel-good” relaxing pisses, and I feel relief wash over me in waves and the hairs on my neck start to stand up and I get all tingly. It wasn’t one of those hard “feel-good” pees that are borderline orgasms, but the other kind of feel good piss. The one’s that after they start you think to yourself “Man, I should’ve sat down for this one.” Any way, I’m feeling relaxed and close my eyes and let out a sigh. I’ve probably been pissing for over a minute already at this point; but it seems I forgot to open my eyes back up. I feel my equilibrium fail and my knees buckle slightly before I right myself. I have fallen asleep standing up loads of times before, but did I just fall asleep peeing? I shake it off (figuratively and literally) and head back to my room. I crashed hardcore. I don’t remember getting to my room, I don’t remember getting in bed, I just remember waking up the next evening with about seven hundred missed calls from my wife. When I told her what happened, she gave me the words of encouragement that only someone who truly loves you can properly give. She called me a dumbass.

Trying to do the right thing and failing, part two.

Another busy late night in the city, and it’s time to head home. My wife hasn’t been able to sleep so we’ve been texting and talking off and on most of the night. I feel fine most of the way, but about 45 minutes into my drive it begins to hit. I feel my eyes getting heavy and I notice my speed has dropped a little. I decide to call the wife to have someone to talk to to keep me awake. I woke her up when I called and she was fighting sleep while we were talking. I told her I was going to try to make it the rest of the way. She can be more reasonable and grounded than I am at times, and quickly went on the defense trying to talk me out of it. She reminded me that no amount of money is worth my life and that I should not do this job if I’m going to push it to that point. Then she threw the kids in my face to make me feel worse about it. She knows how to manipulate me pretty well by now. So I promised her I would pull off the first chance I got.

The problem with that is that at this point I’m twenty miles from the next town and I’m surrounded by nothing but trees and hills. I know there’s and exit coming up and I’m fairly certain there’s a place to park there. By the time I get to it, I pull off and notice that there’s a random gravel parking area off to the side, with a couple of cars already there. I pull in and find a spot to myself and shut down the car. I’ve been sitting for hours so I get out and stretch, walk around for a little bit. Really, I’m just surveying the area to see if there’s any shady people, or if anyone’s watching so I can take a leak. I start to feel safe and Superman next to my car, giving my tire a wash. The Sun’s starting to come up, but it’s cold out so I’m trying to hurry this one along. (You guys know what I’m talking about.) I climb in the car and put on some heat, getting as comfortable as I can; even kicking my shoes off for some reason.

It takes me a while, I can’t really get comfortable. My legs are falling asleep and it’s keeping the rest of me awake. I finally feel myself start to drift away into sleepy town when I’m shocked into consciousness. The car is shaking violently and I’m bombarded by multiple noises; high and low pitched. My eyes are adjusting but my ears are splitting I can barely hear myself scream. It feels like a freight train is speeding by within a few feet of me. Decibels = Over 9000. I gain my bearings and wheel around, trying to figure out what’s going on. I look in my rear view and (who guessed it?) there’s a fucking freight train speeding by within a few feet of me. I lose it. Before rational thought can return from slumber land, I’m out of my car screaming at the train. “You fucking cocksuckers! Get back here and fight me you bitch!” Or something to that effect. I kick rocks at it, but that hurts because my dumb ass took my shoes off. That’s when the thought hits me; “Shoes!” I dive in my car and grab my shoe and throw it at the train. Of course, my shoe ricochets wildly off the steel frame and lands in the grass field several yards away.

The Doppler effect fades out and I’m standing there by my car giving this train the finger as hard as I can as it disappears around a bend. I let out one final guttural roar in angst and a few heavy breaths. That little voice in my head is whispering “Now what the fuck did that accomplish exactly?” And he’s right, but I did feel better. I take a few deep breathes and collect myself, surveying my surroundings. Damn it. Where’s my shoe? I walk to the edge of the grassy field and I feel like Sam Winchester in that one episode of Supernatural where he’s standing there looking all helpless and dejected (the same way I’m looking at this field) and says the only thing I can think to say at this moment of my life. “I lost my shoe.”

The scare had my heart pumping and I felt more awake than I have in hours, so I decide to make the trek home. The rest of the trip is train and incident free. Plus the Sun was up now, so that helped. I made it home and was looking forward to a nice snooze. Unfortunately, I walked in to my roommates awake, active, cooking and playing and talking loudly. I said nothing to them as I stomped downstairs like a four-year old throwing a temper tantrum. I locked my door, turned off my phone, and shoved pillows against my ears. I woke up like that, fully clothed, a few hours later.

In case you were wondering, yes. I found my shoe.

Hallucinations (or were they?) part one.

I over did it like a motherfucker one night. Before I found out that I’m only supposed to work a maximum of 12 hours, and take breaks, I pulled seventeen hours straight one day. I started at 11AM and turned the app off around 4AM the next morning. I stopped for snacks and had chicken nuggets hidden in my door for meals. Never took a lunch break, never turned the app off. I had a huge money making day, but I ended up getting an e-mail saying I’m not supposed to do that and I can get fined if I did it again. It was stupid and dangerous, but I was desperate for the work. All the rides I pulled that day were in the big city and I still had to go home. I couldn’t afford a hotel and by the time I checked out I just wanted my bed. But I was feeling okay, so I decided to trek home.

I was doing pretty okay, but I had barely gotten out of civilization when I started developing the signs of fatigue. My eyes were dry, I was unusually still, I had sank a little too far in my chair. I had developed little tricks to keep me awake, other than caffeine. (Which, by the by, does very little if you’re already tired.) Call someone on the phone to talk to, pull over and walk around for a bit; do some jumping jacks or push-ups, crack the window and left the breeze blow against your face, or cranky the radio to a catchy tune you can sing badly and dance around to. Sunflower seeds are a Godsend. The constant movement of grabbing, sucking, chewing, and spitting (hee hee) keeps you active and can keep sleep away if you start before you get too tired. I have heard of some people who will whip their junk out and edge themselves (stroking yourself to the point of orgasm, then backing off repeatedly without cumming) but I drive a manual and I’m not that coordinated. I’ve never tried it; but this trucker at a gas station saw my loading up on energy drinks and he absolutely swore by it. Plus, knowing my luck, I’d get caught. That, and I’ve never been one for self control in that aspect and I’d probably finish myself, which would just make me more sleepy. Smoking give you short bursts (dirty habit, I know) but they don’t last too long once you’re done with one. You might get about 15-20 minutes of wakefulness and cancer per cigarette. Plus, I can’t chain smoke like people do. If I smoke more than a couple too soon together I get sick as fuck. And, yes, I know I need to quit. My wife reminds me everyday.

I had made it a little over halfway home when things started getting weird. By a miracle from God I had stayed in my lane, wasn’t swerving that I know of, and there was next to no one on the road. I didn’t feel tired anymore for some reason, but everything seemed to be moving slowly. It doesn’t help that I was doing about 40mph in a 75mph zone. I knew I was past my limit at that point, but I saw some strange lights up ahead and coasted towards them on the shoulder. I noticed an obstruction in the road and some guys in military uniforms making patterns with flashlights. I heard no noise but watched as a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter came in for a landing slowly. I watched the blades slow and the position lights blink in sequence. As it landed, It seemed odd that it wasn’t blowing my car around or kicking up any dirt or rocks. I put my car in gear and pulled closer to the bird as it came down in the middle of the interstate. But where were the cops or crews blocking the road? Why hadn’t any of the Soldiers stopped or even acknowledged me? Were the coming for me? Something was definitely off, but I wasn’t thinking clearly so I assumed something was wrong with the aircraft. I have over a decade of aviation experience so I start to unbuckle, planning on getting out to help. As the helicopter came closer I noticed something blatantly off with the aircraft. The center of the fuselage was kinked upward like the bird was smooshed together at both ends. Like the cartoon aircraft some Unit’s use for their logos and patches. Like a cartoon Chinook was landing in the interstate. Things clear up a little bit for me and I realize a fucking cartoon helicopter is landing in the road and what the fuck is going on? It even looked like a cartoon, the whole scene did! I step out of my car and the scene disappears. I look around and realize that I had somehow subconsciously pulled my car unto the shoulder, turned my hazard lights on, turned my car off, and had thrown my keys in front of my vehicle. Had my hazards not reflected off of them I would have never noticed them. I walked over to pick them up and paced back and forth for a minute or town, racking my brain and cursing myself for being so stupid to let myself get to that point. I do not remember pulling over and shutting the car down, but I realize that I had been dreaming, even the I was conscious and aware. I’m glad asleep me is more responsible than awake me.

After about 10 minutes of walking around and kicking myself another car finally passes me. They keep going and I decide to get to someplace safer; a parking lot or something. I do some jumping jacks until my back hurts and knock out a few push ups then get back in my car. I make it a few miles down the road of nothing, not even an exit. I start felling drowsy again and tell myself not to be stupid. I pull over to the point where over half my vehicle is in the grass, kill the engine and lay back. After a few minutes I start to drift and I figure I’ll wake up whenever and head home. I had only seen one other vehicle since all this started, but as soon as I get comfortable a Semi truck blows past me; rocking my car and waking me up. I lay back down and get comfortable again and another one comes barreling by. I tell myself that once I’m good and out, I won’t even notice them and I am not getting back on the road.

I’m having trouble getting comfortable for about the next fifteen minutes; but no other cars have passed. I am starting to get extremely frustrated when a new sensation decides to rear it’s fucking head. I have to pee. I sit up, get out, and walk around my car. I open up the passenger rear door to block me so no one sees what I’m doing and to save me the embarrassment of someone pointing and laughing at my penis. (Fuck you, it’s cold.) As I take on my Superman persona and my stream starts flowing another fucking Semi darts past. But this guy knows what’s going on and honks at me a few times. Asshole. As he passes, the wake he leaves shakes me a bit but sends my stream into a rollercoaster of chaos. As if things weren’t already bad, I have now successfully pissed down my leg, on my shoe, and on the floorboards in my back seat. Fuck you, guy.

So now I’m both pissed of and pissed on. I climb back in my car; I have some adrenaline going and rage-fueled wakefulness so I decide to try and find a proper parking lot. I manage to get past the next few miles purely be complaining and cursing under my breath. I smoke a cigarette to calm down and that gets me few more miles. Before I consciously realize it, I am two exits from home. Or at least to my interstate exit. I’m still feeling okay, so I push it to the exit. I manage to make it off the interstate and completely across town before I start to feel iffy again. I’m not taking any chances and pull into the first parking lot I get to, which is about three miles away. As I head under an underpass, I see a child dribbling a basketball while walking across the road. He has a red sleeveless shirt with red and black basketball shorts on. Where are this kids parents? What is he doing out this time of night? Why doesn’t he have a face? Where the fuck is that parking lot?

At this point I’m less than a quarter mile away from where I was heading, I pull over into a hospital parking lot and shut the car down. I managed to fall out and I fell good about the situation. I wised up and am being responsible. I am only five miles from my house and my bed, but I am stopping and resting here because I am obviously too tired and I have already risked too much already.

Fifteen minutes have passed since the last time I looked at my clock and there is a knock on my window. I wipe my eyes a few times and see a flashlight pointing in and notice a glint of a badge. I am fully expecting it to be the local police telling me that something has happened and it’s my fault; or there’s a mailbox or a Saab or something sticking out of my bumper. I look around while rolling down my window and notice that the lights on his vehicle aren’t blue, but amber. It’s a fucking rent-a-cop. I get the window about halfway down when the security guard goes: “Hey, Buddy, you can’t sleep here.” I ask if I can step out for a second and he moves out of the way. I stretch out and jump around a few times while apologizing and explaining that I just live up the road but I was too tired to make it. According to the security guard I didn’t have to go home, but I couldn’t stay there. Apparently the guy from Semisonic got a new job.

I walked around my car a few times inspecting every surface. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach and wanted to be sure that I did not hit anyone or anything. My car was clean, no new scratches or dents and that made me feel better. Mr. $10.50 an hour was being pushy so I got in my car and left. I made it home safely, without incident and went to bed. When I woke up, I scoured police blotters for any accidents or anything in the area I was driving that night and found nothing except a fender bender on a service road, but both cars were accounted for. That night was enough to scare me straight and I refuse to drive that fatigued again, and I have not since. Nothing is worth it and I have too much to live for.

Hallucinations (or were they?) part two.

So, I saw a UFO. Now, hang on before I lose you, let me explain. For most of my life I’ve been drawn to the paranormal and the metaphysical; but never dove too deep into anything. I really got into things while researching for a book idea I had about either the multi-verse theory or astral projection; never decided which one. But I discovered a lot about the universe and myself on this journey and have continued to research such things ever since. My book idea was scrapped, however, after I told my older sister about the general plot line and concept and she responded with: “So, basically, Quantum Leap fan fiction?” Really glad I wasted my time on that.

But, over the years I have seen the occasional odd happenings; doors and cabinets opening or closing by themselves, lights flickering, appliances going nuts, sounds I couldn’t explain, Charlie Sheen. But I can only explain away so much by saying “it’s just the wind.” When I was 20, me and two friends I worked with all had a similar dream on the same night. So, yeah, I’d say I’ve been drawn to some weird things. I like the occasional conspiracy theory, but I haven’t started wearing a tin foil hat yet, so I think I’m still doing well. But after dropping off a ride one night, something happened that I could not explain. So here goes.

I had just dropped off a ride on a slow night. I was feeling off and didn’t have good vibes, so I decided I was going to call it quits for now, and maybe if I felt better later, I’d jump back out for the last call crowd. But, for the time being, something just felt off. I was heading east towards my place on a road that is typically pretty busy, but it’s just after midnight so it’s pretty dead at the moment. I was cruising along doing about 60mph. If I’m not going to or on a ride, I usually get up to 5mph over the speed limit and hit the cruise control. I have caught every green light on this road so far, but one finally catches me on yellow and I ease on the brakes; rolling to a stop just as it turns red. In the upper left corner of my windshield I spot a green light coming into view, I figure its just the reflection of the opposite side traffic light and don’t think much of it, except it seemed to be moving kind of to the south, right into my field of view. I look at the roads across from me and realize that I’m at a three-way stop, not a four-way. There is no traffic light on that side of the street. Plus, buy the time this is happening, the light has already turned yellow; but the green light is still there. The light now looked like it was slightly edging east. My light turned green and I took off. I dismissed the light, I figured it was probably a reflection of a weird traffic pattern or a light that hasn’t been deleted yet because they were doing construction in that area. It was a little windy that night, so that explains the odd movements.

As I continue to head east, the light is still there, seemingly in the same spot. I’m watching the road and not it, so I assume I’m just catching glimpses of reflections of traffic lights as I pass by them. Except, I’m heading east, the light is heading east, and it’s starting to pull away from me. Plus, if it were a reflection, shouldn’t it be gleaming the opposite way as I pass? Like, to the west? All that aside, the light is seriously pulling away from me. So I decide to test my little theory and my hand subconsciously reaches over and pushes the button to roll down my window. I take my attention off the road momentarily and physically put my head out of my window. It’s not a damn reflection. The light is still there. Approximately 1000 ft up from my 11 o’clock position, heading east and accelerating. I’m not going to speculate on size, because I’d probably be wrong; I’ve been lying about the size of my penis since I was 11. It was a bright green orb of light, with a dark green center, it was steady and silent. It didn’t pulse or falter. So I successfully spooked myself and my window wasn’t rolling up fast enough. A quarter mile later, I’m stopped by another red light, and the light I was seeing continued eastward towards the horizon, seemingly turning slightly north before I could no longer see it due to the landscape. The weirdest thing about this whole experience was that while I was watching the light, I felt really calm and peaceful. The light made me feel at oddly at ease. And it made no noise.

Now, at this point I’d like to stop and point out a couple of things. I tried to explain away what I saw as something more rational that what was going through my head. I tried hard. I have worked in the Aviation industry for over a decade. I’ve worked on cargo jets, passenger jets, helicopters, and a few prop planes. I’ve worked aviation in the private sector as well as for the Military. On the right side of all aircraft, there is a green light. It’s a position indicator; there’s a red one on the left side, typically on the wing tip of an airplane. I have personally replaced these lights on several occasions. I have never, in over a decade, seen one this bright. An aircraft also has a red strobe on top of and under the fuselage and a white light on the tail; the anti-collision light. The light I saw was a different, darker shade of green than any position light I have ever worked with. If this were a typical aircraft, over my left shoulder, flying level, heading the same direction as me, the green position indicator would be visible. But, so would the red strobes and white anti-collision lights. Even if it were a massive jet, like the Air Force C-5 or a Boeing 747, flying that low, that close, and that level; I would have heard it for one, and also the other lights would have been visible. If it weren’t fucking green, I’d chock it up to being a really, really, ridiculously bright search light.

So, did I see an Alien spacecraft? That’s not what I’m saying, fruitcake. I saw a UFO. There was an object (O), that was flying (F) that I could not identify from my experience. (There’s a “U” in there somewhere.) Do I believe that we are alone in the universe? No. And if we are, what a fucking waste of space. Do I believe that extra-terrestrial beings have visited Earth? Sure. Why not? Am I going to spend the rest of my life in pursuit of the truth? No, I’m an adult with a family and a job and responsibilities; not Fox Mulder. Although, truthfully, I wanted to be Mulder. The Universe had other plans.

So, my rationale follows thus: I had been up since 4AM, worked out, worked till 5PM at my normal job, drove from 7PM till after midnight. I was tired and probably seeing things. It’s happened before. I totally believe it’s possible to be conscious and be so tired that your mind starts to dream. Maybe my body’s vibrational frequency got so low or so high that I was seeing multiple planes of existence at once. I can’t explain fully what I experienced, but I know that at that point I was too tired to drive and went home. Granted, when I got there I was looking over my shoulders constantly and turned every light in the house on in case ET read my thoughts and got my address and is hiding in the bushes to get me. You ain’t gonna probe me that easy, little green man, I fight dirty. I’ll bite, claw your eyes out, whatever it takes. I’d kick you in the dick if you had one.

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