Kosmicki: Highway 25 puts the mad in madness

Highway 25 at San Felipe Road

Idle in the main, left lane at northbound San Felipe Road and Highway 25 at the intersection of Hollister and the world early on a Monday was a battered pickup truck with a muffler louder than the San Benito Foods tomato cannery and a trailer carrying heaps of wood ready to spill like a mangled tower of Jenga blocks.
Rumbling toward the intersection were two separate herds of commuters immersed by clouds of smog—one coming on the city’s bypass leading to the main highway out of town and the other approaching on San Felipe, from downtown, behind the ill-timed, trailer-hitched pickup waiting at the stoplight.
It was the Hollister commuter’s worst nightmare: a time-wealthy truck driver carrying a rickety trailer at the head of the main entrance to the two-lane, no-passing, car-jamming, leisure-driving Highway 25—a single-file, paved ferry leading locals to Highway 101 and everywhere else with a light.
Inside the pickup, alone, the man pondered a relatively empty, wholly satisfying schedule on his off day from work. He realized he had no real deadline to drop off lumber to a distant relative in Gilroy. Beyond that, he was excited about eating a giant, organic peach he got at the local Nob Hill after hearing—he thought it might have been on The Doctors—how the big peaches were especially nutritious. In the evening, he would watch Animal Planet.
“This is my day,” he declared to himself, his elbow perched loosely on the windowsill.
Those packs of morning drivers pulled into the intersection. Noticing the truck, trailer and perched elbow, like hawks circling over an open, dry field along Fairview Road, astute commuters on San Felipe veered to the right like stock drivers behind a pace car, all surmising they could hurry beyond the pack leader before the lanes merge after a green light. The line’s length reached 22 vehicles before another truck finally pulled behind the trailer.
“These tech geniuses in their hybrids aren’t always so bright,” the truck’s driver muttered to his wife in the passenger seat, as she noted in her head how none of the vehicles were actually hybrids. “We’ll pass them at the intersection up ahead.”
His wife would have responded verbally, too, but was silenced abruptly as four pine cone-shaped vibrators inside her luxurious seat—with lumbar adjustment and premium leathers imported from Harrison Ford’s Wyoming ranch—rotated against her back. She no longer cared enough to respond. Not even to her husband’s next knowingly thoughtless remark as he held the button for her treatment: “That’s like getting a massage from Hans Solo, sweetheart.”
The light turned green, and a chain of driver reactions began.
The first 14 vehicles passed Lumber Guy with ease. At No. 15 was a Budweiser van that couldn’t quite make it safely without slowing behind the lazy trailer or using the shoulder to pass. It had one of those “Call my horribly angry boss at this number if I’m awful on the road” stickers plastered across the back doors, so you’d assume the driver wasn’t about to make any jarring moves.
“There goes making the 8 a.m. at Morgan Hill Bowl,” said the Bud driver to herself, staring at the man’s elbow ahead, then lowering her voice for the worst part, “and my breakfast burrito.”
The driver in the car behind the Bud van had followed the pack into the right lane and didn’t have a clue about the potentially disastrous, lumber-carrying, anxiety-wielding, cardiac-arresting trailer.
“Yes, of course,” she replied on an ear-attached Bluetooth, which she wears everywhere, even in romantic situations, and uses to avoid real conversations whenever possible. “I’m hearing you. Just keep them happy. I’ll be there by 8:30 unless traffic is backed up.”
She momentarily saw the lazy truck ahead around a curve and zeroed in on the perched elbow, then the lumber, and then—startled beyond belief—visualized a series of events leading to her own homelessness.
“Leslie, cancel the meeting. Let them know I’m stuck in traffic. If they have to scratch the deal, I understand. Between us, because we’re friends, I may also have to resign and I imagine this could lead to a divorce and me losing everything I own.”
Behind the depressed businesswoman, a routinely depressed man—who barely shaves and either doesn’t have a grasp of the undershirt concept or believes going under-shirtless is an attractive look—drove in silence and didn’t care much about prospects for a few added minutes on the Bolsa trip. Outside of wondering why he couldn’t find a matching sock that morning and how it once again proved everything in life seemed to work against him, he made a keen observation about the highway and even offered himself a complimentary “Hmm” with a subtle hunch and half smile.
“Maybe it’s a bad sign that they legally require us to turn on headlights during daylight hours for these particular 12 miles,” he thought to the sound of Hollister’s valley-trapped wind whipping against his driver-side door, nearly shoving him into oncoming traffic. “Like, isn’t that the point of the sun?”
His heart felt heavy but he moved on—as always—realizing it’s just how things go on the 25. His silence was the exception in the row of vehicles. The last five veteran commuters in the line had their radio, playlists and streaming devices, as usual, playing on the trip. The first of the five was actually listening to—and sort of watching—the prior night’s True Detective episode. The following, at the pack’s tail, was the succession of music sung or played by respective, inspired/self-loathing/bored drivers who fully realized their commuting fates:
“Get out of my dreams! … Get into my car!”
Then there was a continual, unpredictable thump of bass music from the next car.
“Duh, duh … duh duh … duh duh … duh duh” was pretty much the extent of it.
From the next truck, the driver blared the sharply reverberating, twangy, Deep Southern, stripped-to-the-core-American soul sounds of Keith Urban, an Australian.
“I’m Mark Twain on the Mississippi … I’m Hemmingway with a shot of whiskey.”
He was so loud, one of two women in the last car heard all of it and paused their music over the outlandishness.
“That’s unreal,” she said to her passenger, a coworker. “An Australian country singer just compared himself to two of the greatest American writers in the history of the world. Whatever, I guess. Put back on Rihanna?”

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