JERK JUNCTION


I reached Jerk Junction the other morning, and the quickness at which I took Jerk Road surprised me.

We have a car in Arizona that needs Oregon plates, since we now live in Oregon.  From a Web site, we read that it was possible to do so by mail without having to drive the car up.  I gathered the needed information, title, proof of insurance, residency, my identification, and a check.  I figured DMV would have no problem taking my money.  I didn’t wait long, and I told the man at the counter what I needed.

“You need to bring the car up here so we can verify the VIN.”

“That’s not what your website says.”

“You have to do it.”  He turned to the woman working next to him and she agreed.  The idea of “What about using Face Time?” didn’t occur to me.

I arrived at Jerk Junction and took Jerk Road, rather than “Suck it Up Road,” a quieter route.

“You need to fix your website,” I replied loudly, thinking of a 2800 mile round trip I would need to make by car and a thousand dollars to fly and drive.  I didn’t swear but left in a huff, muttering about processes in this country and wondering aloud what language they were speaking.

I’ve taken Jerk Road too often.  I try not to, but I have skunk anger, and while I have mellowed with age, I can still erupt.  I never hit people, only things.  I don’t use weapons, and I don’t threaten harm, but I’m still on Jerk Road.

I felt badly and actually wrote a letter to DMV apologizing for my behavior.  My wife said that was “stunningly noble.”  I thought it was hardly either, just mousier than going back and personally apologizing,  I did feel better after sending it.

We all reach Jerk Junction sooner or later. I wish I would turn off on Suck it Up Road more often.

Six hours later, out walking in the park, we pass a man wearing headphones, using a cane, and with an unleashed dog, the last against park regulations.  The dog comes running at me, and I turn to head it away.  No problem, but I was annoyed.  Twenty seconds later, the dog comes at me so close that I had to use a newspaper I had to gently deflect him.  My wife, who can be delightfully vocal at the right time, spoke up, “The dog is required to be on a leash.”

The man replied, “People ought to be leashed, too.”

I stopped.  Cold.  At Jerk Junction.  The man was already on Jerk Road.  I could challenge him:  we were fifty yards apart, walking in opposite directions.  I shouted at him in German and turned down Suck it Up.  It defused me and caused no harm.  Briefly, I thought of confronting him on Jerk Road.  I quickly dismissed the notion as  (1) not being worth it, because he wouldn’t change, (2) risking being shot, since this is America, and (3) risking a fist fight.  Wrong road.

On the other hand, had his dog bitten me, I would have run home, calling urgent care on the way, washing the wound with soap when I arrived, since rabies virus is fat soluble. I likely would have had to undergo immunization, because five will get you ten the guy’s dog was unvaccinated.  Five will get you twenty that had we found the dog, the man wouldn’t have quarantined it.  People, you see, have rights.  The sagebrush rebellion folks, Cliven Bundy types, neither neuter their animals, nor control the number of kids they spawn nor likely served in the military, have rights.  They put up signs extolling a climate change denier running for Congress, believes radiation is good for people, wants to privatize SSI and Medicare, and said public schools were child abuse, as he hawked his $195 home school program. I know one of these guys personally, who got free care from doctors he knew, as he railed against “government doctors.” His IRAs (government program) were cashed out to pay for part of a hospitalization for heart difficulties (the hospital ate most of his bill), leaving him penniless.  I never asked him what he thought of the Affordable Care Act. Having done so would have put me on Jerk Road.  On 5 June 2012, I showed the medical society the Transit of Venus; when I said the planet was 26 million miles distant, the guy commented, “that’s less than the national debt.”  His political snipe was straight from Jerk Road. I stopped at Jerk Junction and didn’t follow.

We left the man in the Park with his dog.  We took Suck it Up Road home.

The irony is we are animal people.  I am not wild about dogs being carried everywhere, including planes (a recent New Yorker article detailed how one such dog pooped twice on the floor, the odor forcing an emergency landing to remove dog and owner, to the cheers of the passengers).  I don’t see why dogs should be allowed in restaurants, I don’t like them off a leash, where “he never did that before” may occur. But people love their dogs, and I grew up with one.

Being upset in DMV is hardly illegal.  Some might argue it is normal.  Dogs off a leash or in a food handling place are illegal. Not picking up after a dog is also illegal. Violators are seldom caught; their dog has just pooped on Jerk Road.

A while back, at Safeway, a guy ahead of me in the check out line glared at me strangely, after I moved my cart forward.  I was almost certain I didn’t hit him, but his look shot nails as if I had.  He was at Jerk Junction.  Simultaneously, the cashier started asking me several questions.  I hit overload, held up my hand, and told the cashier to stop talking.

I hit the brakes just before Jerk Junction, turned to the glaring man, apologized for hitting him, then turned back to the cashier, allowing him to talk.  The cashier later said I hadn’t touched the man, who was apparently having a bad day.  Yes, some people spend most of the day idling at Jerk Junction.  OK, an unnecessary apology.  But I didn’t go down Jerk Road.

One can’t be too careful at Jerk Junction.  Many arrive there armed, which is a bad combination. Americans have a lot of guns, killing 11,000 annually. I don’t want to be dead or one of the seventy-three thousand in the ED this year with a gunshot wound.  The Second Amendment is king here; people have the ability to buy a powerful weapon with no background checks, and use it in any way they see fit. My rights don’t count.

It’s quicker these days to reach Jerk Junction with more stress, more people, and a more complicated world. I know I will arrive there often.  That is life.  I can choose, however, to turn off on Suck it Up.  That would be wisdom.

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