Hump Day: Are we all living lives of quietly desperate road rage?

Hump DayHump Day 2 cropped
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

I hope I’m not the only one reading this who gets all his frustrations out while I’m driving by myself in the car. If I am, well then that would mean I’m just a weirdo. Stop applauding and nodding your heads in agreement, please. I have feelings, too, you know.

If you ever see me drive by and I’m talking to someone, check the passenger seat. It’s usually empty. Which means, of course, that I’m partaking in my usual habit of talking to myself in the car. It may sound silly – and I’m sure it does – but it’s a way to get some frustrations out and perhaps be a bit blunter with (imaginary) people than I should be, even if they’re not there to hear it. Just because we want to say it, doesn’t mean we should.

I’ll just talk away like a madman either to vent frustrations, practice a few difficult conservations which need to take place, or just blurt out garbage my mouth wants to say but my head tells it not to, at least in mixed company. If my vehicle ever got bugged at some point, I’d have to move to a deserted island somewhere and take up basket weaving.

road rage

I usually save my worst venom for bad drivers. Oh, the terrible things I’ve said! Just awful. Of course, I’d never say it to them in person, but it’s a good way to get frustration out. I tend to do it rather discreetly, though, after I got caught by a lip-reading trucker a few years ago who stole my parking spot. True story! “Did you just call me an (insert bad name here)?” Nope. Not me. Move along. Thank you for not stabbing me and burying my body in a shallow grave! I tend to whisper stuff since then.

I’ve seen those road-rage videos online and they’re quite terrifying. If those drivers would just learn my technique and get their frustrations out verbally when no one is around, it would be so much better – and they wouldn’t end up on YouTube after someone inevitably records one of their tantrum for all the world to see.

You have to be careful with this technique, though. The other day, I went for coffee with my mother and two aunts when I saw a driver take a bit of an odd shortcut through parking lot and park next to me. Well, of course I launched into my own whispering tirade in the car about how the driver should pretty much be put on the rack, tortured and shot in public with their entire family as witnesses. Yup, that would teach them a lesson!

The car parked next to me and I looked over to see who the offending driver was. Surely, they were some sort of monster. “Oh, hi Mom.” I hope she hasn’t learned how to read lips – and thankfully I chose not to use the middle-finger salute which many drivers use too often. I may lose my cool and do that once per year after a particularly dangerous manoeuvre by another driver puts me at risk, but it’s fairly rare. And to be fair, I’ve had it done to me a few times after I’ve been inattentive and made a driving mistake. Stop sign? What stop sign?

The fact is, every driver makes mistakes. Some are too polite (yes, that’s a mistake!) and give the right of way to drivers who don’t have it, putting other drivers in danger. Others drive down city streets at breakneck speeds. I swear, I could set up seating and sell NASCAR tickets in my front yard to watch the cars speed by my house sometimes. It’s a tragedy just waiting to happen, especially with a park right across the street and lots of kids around. I dread the day I hear squealing brakes from inside the house and the subsequent unmistakable noise of an accident.

But pedestrians are often no better. I see so many people just walk across busy streets without even looking both ways. Others just barge right across a crosswalk without even stopping to look to ensure that they’ve been seen. And others think bicycle lanes are for baby carriages or running. Sorry, runners! You’re supposed to stick to the sidewalk, not run down bicycle lanes in the opposite direction of traffic – no matter what you’ve been told – at least in Moncton.

So yeah, a few pedestrians and runners have been the targets of my only-heard-by-me rants, too. I just hope none of them can read lips – or end up being my mother!

Hump Day: At least the Internet lets us play hockey from a safe distance

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

As my nine-year-old nephew ages, I’ve noticed he’s becoming more and more addicted to online gaming. If you want to make him cry these days, don’t bother telling him Santa Claus got bitten by a rabid elf and is skipping Christmas, just tell him the Internet is down. Then sit back and wait for his eyes to water and his mouth to open up and make some inhuman sound like a tornado warning siren.

I stand not in judgment of him, but more as a kindred spirit. While I’m not addicted to online gaming, to say that I’m not addicted to the Internet would be like a Montreal Canadiens fan trying to convince you that they don’t care if the team ever wins another Stanley Cup – or a Toronto Maple Leafs fan trying to convince you that they even know what the Stanley Cup looks like. ‘What is this mythical trophy of which you speak – the silver cup named after a gentleman called Stanley?’

By now, you’ve probably figured out which team I support, however after not having had a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup since 1993 (for the record, it was Montreal), I think it’s long past due. Unfortunately, the Canadiens always seem to choke during the playoff and the Leafs are statistically eliminated within the first 30 seconds of the first game of the season in October.

‘Folks watching at home, we’ve never seen this before but the Leafs players are already practising their golf putts behind the bench and we haven’t even dropped the puck in the first game. Meanwhile, we’ve been told that the Canadiens will be practising the Heimlich manoeuvre on each other between periods for when the playoffs arrive and they invariably end up choking. There are also some other Canadian teams in the NHL – but we’ll only pay attention to them if they reach the finals. Then we’ll all flock to them and pretend we cared all along.’

I don’t bother watching many games on television because I’m usually online and following along on Facebook. A long string of happy Facebook updates are posted by friends every time their team scores. If the game isn’t going well, my Facebook newsfeed invariably fills with distraught messages of hockey-related grief and anxiety. Oh, and trust me, if I actually watched the game it would guarantee the Canadiens would lose, so I stay far away from the tube.

At least with hockey, there’s something to watch. Have you ever watched golf on television? Mind you, when Tiger Woods was still actually good it was exciting, but since he got caught cheating by his wife and they had a ‘frank and open discussion’ which led to her (allegedly) clocking him across the noggin with a golf club, he’s gone downhill.

boy computerBaseball isn’t much better, although I have to admit that the statistics are fascinating. If you really want to get into baseball, just studying the various batting and pitching statistics could be a full-time job. The volume of acronyms I found online for game statistics was incredible. If you ever see a pitcher with red hair and a big nostrils throw the ball to a batter with green eyes and bad breath, some obsessed fan out there has probably figured out every probability known to mankind regarding the pitch’s outcome.

I’ll give you one sure-fire statistic: watching baseball on television puts me to sleep 100 per cent of the time.

Football seems a bit more exciting, but it’s like watching a car accident. I’d find it hard to turn my head away because I’d be waiting for someone to have their head torn off or get a concussion so bad that they show up at the hospital with their brain in an empty margarine container and asking the doctor, ‘Is this bad?’ Other players, meanwhile, would get marched off the field in handcuffs after being arrested mid-game. NFL players in the U.S. can’t seem to stay out of jail. Between drugs, drunk driving, assault, murder and domestic violence, I’m not sure when they find the time to play football.

Where did this column start? I seem to have gone off on a tangent. Oh yeah, nephew addicted to Internet. Just terrible. Blah blah blah. I’m a hypocrite because I’m addicted, too. Blah blah blah. Have fun with that kiddo. If you think it’s taking up all your time now, wait until you hit ‍puberty. We’ll leave cold pizza and fluids on a tray outside your bedroom door so you don’t die – and keep sending me school photos every September so that Uncle Brian remembers what you look like!

Hump Day: Dog owners can also be obsessed with safety

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m obsessed about my dog ‍Milane‍’‍s safety. If we’re outside, I hover over her like the strictest father ever. The two cats stay indoors and never try to go outside, so they’re pretty safe – but the dog is another story.

Whenever I’m at my mother’s with ‍Milane, I surely drive everyone insane with my overprotectiveness. Every time the door opens, I make sure I know where ‍Milane is or else I’m positive she’s going to run out onto the road and wind up as a furry white decoration on some truck’s front grill.

While visiting my mother over the weekend, she opened the back door to let my nephew in when I saw ‍Milane head out the door too. From my vantage point at the window, I didn’t know there were two neighbourhood girls who’d come over to visit. I just saw my dog head out the door into the unknown.

My heart sank, I yelled an expletive and ran to the back door thinking I was going to find ‍Milane squashed like a ketchup packet in the middle of the road. What I did find was ‍Milane standing happily beside two little girls who were about to pet her – that is before a certain little dog’s crazy father stomped outside, picked her up in his arms and marched her back in the house like she’d just escaped from the penitentiary.

The girls probably thought I was nuts, and ‍Milane was likely wondering what all the fuss was about. ‘Hey, buster, if someone’s gonna pet me, I’m there!’

Milane - April 23 2015
How could you not be overprotective of a little face like that? My dog Milane. Photo taken April 23, 2015.

After we got back home, I went through the scenarios in my mind of what could have happened. All of them ended up with ‍Milane dead and me having to wear a black floor-length dress and lace veil for the next year during a national period of mourning while wailing over her little doggie grave.

It’s so odd. I certainly wasn’t brought up in an overprotective environment. Like any kid who grew up in the 1970s, we played outside until all hours. Our parents didn’t know where we were half the time, but there were always people around. If one of us got our head chopped off while playing in the park, someone was bound to take us home – dragging along a wagon with our head in it.‘Timmy got his head cut off while we were playing on the monkey bars. We thought he might need a bandage.’

Even as teenagers, we were out all the time and no one knew where we were. Again, we survived, and our parents just innately sensed that we were safe.

Parents today are hooked up to their kids with cell phones and keep track of them all the time. Kids are just a text message away. Heck, parents can even have their children tracked to know their exact location to make sure they are where they’re supposed to be. I can’t imagine today’s parents living in the world of 40 years ago. They would completely freak out not being tethered to their kids 24/7. It was an entirely different era.

I probably would freak out, too. I can barely let my dog out of my sight. Before I go to bed at night, I need to know where the two cats are, too, just to make sure that one of them didn’t build an escape tunnel to the outside world or climb out the exhaust fan vent over the stove. (As if!)

I think that if I had young kids today, they would be slipping tranquilizers in my coffee every morning. I would drive them insane by needing to know where they were at any given moment. They would hate me and I would end up in a straightjacket because of the constant worrying. There’d be a groove worn into the floor by all the pacing.

Something tells me that ‍Milane will lose her patience one of these days. If I ever stop her from getting petted by kids again like I did the other day, she’s bound to turn on me and go for the jugular. After all, I’ve never seen a dog love getting petted as much as she does. If you pet her, be prepared to keep going because she’ll nudge you and put her paw on your hand to beg you to continue.

I could say that I’ll try to lighten up, but I know that won’t happen. ‍Milane‍’‍s destined to have a hovering dad over her forever. As long as I don’t stop petting her, though, I’m sure she won’t mind.