For a phenomenon that generally makes less than ten minutes’ difference at most, it’s kind of amazing what an impact the vagaries of vehicular chance have on my mood. If traffic and Tyche conspire to sail me smoothly to my destination at 1:58 while “Strutter” is just slamming its way to a close on my iPod, it’s as though the lark’s on the wing and the snail’s on the thorn; God’s in His heaven and all’s right with the world, sort of thing. But stick me behind a plodding minivan amid obdurate lights and I’ll arrive at 2:06 with a clenched jaw and blood in my eye, especially if the only thing I can find on the radio is The Eagles.
[Sidebar: I don’t know whether it’s the result of my country upbringing or what, but there’s something about the experience of sitting (somewhat) patiently at a red light, leaping joyously off the line when it finally turns green and watching the next light one block away immediately turn yellow that is just… immensely frustrating. Machines shouldn’t be able to deliver personal affronts like that; it’d be like an ATM randomly calling Stephen King an unpleasant name.]
But the important thing is that sometimes it all comes together: once in a while disparate, uncontrollable elements align such that there are practically no cars on South Shields heading north into downtown OKC, almost all the lights are green and the fortunate commuter is able to slip through a yellow on SE 23rd and accelerate into the curve–
–just as Wilson Pickett finishes the last verse of his cover of “Hey Jude” and the horn line surges into the long outro while the singer assures the listener that “it’s gonna be all right”–
–just as the rising arc of the road presents a glorious, glittering vista of the downtown skyline against a dazzlingly blue sky flooded with radiance from the morning sun. In that instant, for that instant, the whole of creation feels fresh and clean and filled with promise. It makes for an overwhelming moment, full stop.
Today’s gonna be all right. Don’t make it bad.
STEVE GILL is unusually tall, has a B.A. in Letters and a minor in Classics from OU, drinks a great deal of coffee and openly delights in writing, editing and catching the occasional typo for Slice – especially since his dream career (millionaire layabout in a P.G. Wodehouse novel) is notoriously difficult to break into. He's probably trying to think of a joke about pirates right now.