Cold sweat begins to form on your brow, debilitating panic grows and your heartbeat quickens.
“Oh yeah, I can give you a ride, for sure!”
Every student with a driver’s license has experienced this frantic moment. You start shovelling piles of garbage from the passenger seat into the back, adding to the already substantial trash heap.
You pretend there is some excuse for your filthy behaviour. “Oh yeah, I um. I was in a hurry”– but we all know the truth. You bomb around in your old Toyota, belting out Pearl Jam, scarfing down your breakfast, chugging coffee, probably late to wherever you’re going.
You toss the wrapper/apple core/ banana peel/coffee cup/napkin/tupperware on the floor of the passenger seat, because that is where garbage belongs. You park the car, check your teeth in the mirror and off you go, to tackle the everyday beauties and horrors that are university life.
All of this is fine, absolutely, until you have to give someone a ride. Remember that cold sweat? Yeah, this is where that comes in.
You laugh nervously while your friend stands awkwardly, frozen, with the passenger door ajar, peering into your garbage can on wheels. They look at you with a concerned gaze, a mix of incredulous shock and amazement.
In between frantic shoveling and shifting of junk you spout out nonsensical excuses.
The worst is when they get in before you have finished the process. They nestle into your little pigsty and in the corner of your eye you see something on the floor. You think, “Oh god, please don’t step on that apple core.” The remaining car ride is a delicate dance consisting of you pointing out the window and trying to keep their attention out there, not at what is orbiting them in the garbage galaxy.
Never do you realize how dirty your car is until you have to drive someone. How long has this quarter inch of dust been here on the dash? How much of this is skin? A Raoul Duke-esque inner monologue starts unraveling in your head, intolerable vibrations surround you. There is no escape.
“Filth, filth everywhere. What’s the score here, what’s next? We can’t stop here, this is apple core country. Jesus, did I say that out loud? Can they hear me?”
To everyone who has a designated plastic bag in their vehicle for garbage, and a little container of special cloths to wipe your skin off of the dashboard: I have so many questions. How did you get this way? What is your origin story? How do I become you?
Perhaps one day I’ll be like you. But for the time being, I’ll continue to speed from point A to B in my nasty family sedan, because I know I’m not alone.
Nonetheless, I say, bravo to you! You are an anomaly, an exception to the rule, one of society’s own special prototypes, too neat to bike, too rare to bus.