Life’s little pleasures. Often foreshadowed by life’s little annoyances. The rising sun bathing the east-facing main entrance in just enough heat to prevent a chill in the morning and the convenience of the single story, multi-unit office building providing just enough shade in the late afternoon to reduce the car’s interior temperature while a golden aura just before sunset envelops the entire office park, its borders lined with mature pine trees, proudly reaching to the sky as if to proclaim, “Arizona heat be damned. We will not be moved.” How many people are so fortunate as to get a shady parking spot less than twenty feet from the door to their office in Phoenix? As Drakes struggled with the tinted glass door to leave, he ignored all of this and, instead, muttered under his breath, “This place is a joke.”
Having closed more than half the distance to his car, he hears the telltale thud of someone else having to give that damn door a solid kick to get it to pop free. Kayside steps into the 100* afternoon and proceeds to light a cigarette. The look on his face reveals that he shares the general disgust for everything, especially that fucking door. Drakes decides to fire up a smoke as well and, as he does so, flatly states, “Fuck that door.” Kayside eagerly replies, “Yeah. Fucking door.”
“I don’t know about you, man, but I didn’t sell shit today.”
“Me either. You know Racer’s Edge did over $80K last month?”
Drakes did not know that Racer’s Edge had moved $80K in product the month before, but despite the obvious fact that neither of them could do anything to change the past, this fact was added to the laundry list of small annoyances which were continuing to distract from what was an otherwise pleasant evening. The two discussed the company’s AP issues and questioned the decision to make the poorest, most ignorant and derelict of wanna be performance car enthusiasts the target demographic. Drakes thought about the hood rat he spoke with earlier in the day who, upon learning there was no aftermarket turbo kit available for his ’87 Mercedes, went right into asking for more information about their “cheapest body kit” for the car, and how that was another product that didn’t exist while Kayside related how a former colleague at Edge had called to tell him all about the custom exhaust system they had installed on a new Aston Martin earlier that week. Kayside said it was “Fucking gangster.” Gangster indeed. Kayside said Rianne was running a little late to pick him up, so he was going back in.
“Have a good evening, man.”
“Thanks. You too.”
Drakes walked back over to the old, black Mitsubishi Galant he’d finally got back on the road just a month prior, after the head gasket failed in spectacular fashion in Phoenix rush hour traffic at the beginning of the summer. The driver’s seat was a weathered testament to the poor maintenance of leather seating surfaces. Dry, taut and splitting in several places, the seat was still decently comfortable, but Drakes considered them eyesores on an otherwise promising project of a car. With a turn of the key in the ignition, the seventeen year old Mitsubishi awoke and the sound thereof reminded Drakes of how all the effort invested over the summer, the hours spent dripping with sweat in a tiny apartment complex garage, were worth it. The engine sounded brilliant and a smirk appeared upon his face. As driver and Mitsubishi pulled into traffic, it seemed Drakes was becoming more aware of those little things.
Minutes later, the wind through the cabin slowed to the gentlest of breezes as the car took its place in line at a red light. A good opportunity to light up another cigarette without having to worry about piloting thirty-five hundred pounds of car down the road whilst focusing on a lighter inches from the face. Depending on traffic, this could be the first of four or five smokes on the way home. Drakes had barely exhaled that first drag up and out the moon roof when the light turned green. The car at the front of the line was off and everyone was starting to ease off the brakes and prepare to pull away from the light when there was a loud noise on the roof of the Mitsubishi.
“Hey buddy! Buddy!”
Drakes looked up to see a street person peering into the car though the fully opened moon roof. He was partially blocking out the sun and his features were hard to make out, but he had a ball cap on and bushy, long hair flowing all around his obscured face.
“Hey buddy! I’m not gonna lie to ya. I need a beer. Hook a brother up with some change for a beer?”
The car that had been a foot off the front bumper of the Mitsubishi was now almost halfway down the block and there were countless cars in line to the rear, certainly growing impatient at not being able to get through the intersection due to this casual introduction. Not one to impede the flow of traffic, Drakes remembered he had a dollar bill folded up in the ash tray (which never actually had any ashes in it for ecologically irresponsible reasons), snatched it up and quickly handed it off to the scruffy pedestrian.
“Hey thanks, man! God bless you man.”
Drakes dismissed the act of generosity and began to pull away.
“Watch out for that guy in the white van back there, man. I think he’s following you.”
In an instant, the new “buddy” who just wanted a drink jumped between moving cars to the side of the road and disappeared through some bushes on the side of the road, leaving Drakes checking his mirrors almost frantically for some sort of confirmation one way or the other as he concerned himself with getting out of the way of all the other commuters who had been delayed by his brief conversation. Was there even a white van back there somewhere? Where did that panhandling booze hound run off too? Didn’t matter, shifting into second gear and applying a generous amount of throttle would see to it that he put it all behind him.
Settling back down into the normal pace of a commuter who isn’t staring blankly at the tail lights ahead of him, or diverting the majority of his attention to the cell phone pressed to the side of his stupid face, Drakes took a deep breath and tried to relax. Drakes’ philosophy on commuting: There is only so much you can do to reduce your time in traffic. Being smooth behind the wheel is the best thing you can do. The precious seconds saved by constantly carving through multiple lanes and trying to beat red lights simply aren’t worth the added stress, so the trick is to figure out which lanes tend to move the fastest along the various sections of the route and make sure you’re in those lanes when the time is right. If you can pull this off, you’ll have a much less agonizing drive.
While making that first left turn into the middle lane of eastbound traffic, Drakes glanced up at the rearview mirror and noticed there was actually a white van about a block back.