I’ve been in the market for an auto-apology device for about 10 years now. Not an automatic-apology device, like that says, “I’m SORRY if I OFFENDED you,” because a) that’s not an apology and b) that’s not what I’m talking about. I am talking about a device that connects to your motor vehicle and can broadcast apologies to surrounding vehicles, and more importantly, their drivers, who are flipping me off.
I thought about maybe an LCD panel, like those Happy New Year belts, programmed with several auto apologies, like “I’m sorry I’m an idiot driver”, “That was my fault, my bad”, “I am genuinely sorry I am so bad at parking, feel free to ding my van”, “I apologize for furthering the incompetent female driver stereotype”. It’s a brilliant idea. I drive around with a little wince, wishing people understood, I can’t help it. I’m a bad driver.
It wouldn’t work, though. All the 19 year old boys would get one and program it to flip me the bird, or generalized profanities. All the genius 5 year olds would read all the surrounding LCD panels and learn the F word, as well as various other conversation starters. In the wrong hands, my attempt at road reconciliation would turn into a Very Bad Idea.
Today, I turned left on red. I don’t have a reason, it doesn’t make any sense. I was sitting at a red light, where I usually have an unprotected left on green, and for some reason, I just rolled out into the intersection like a toddler in a plastic car. There was honking, hand gestures, apologetic head ducks by me, and a good deal of questioning from the backseat. “But WHY did you turn left on red?” I don’t know, all right? I don’t know. The devil? Muscle memory? Too many hormones in my chicken? I don’t know! It was dumb, and dangerous, but everybody was moving pretty slow around the Crazy Lady and there was no near misses, just humiliation.
I tried to recover, and the man/child I had startled by appearing in the intersection passed me on the freeway and again, waved the Finger of Friendship in my general direction. Call me a liberal, but if I saw a minivan turn left on red into traffic, I would assume the driver was probably mentally ill or just distracted or on her way to the hospital and I would be satisfied by flipping her off one time. (Disclaimer: I have never flipped off a stranger, or anyone outside of an adult in my household) But this guy had to make his point clear.
If I had my Auto-Apology, I would have said, “I SAID I was sorry! Tell your mother I said hi.”