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“Type A” Person

I was in my friend’s car once, and she was driving through the streets of Chicago, and she was letting people in who were getting in the right lane at an intersection when that right lane really should only be used for turning right but they go straight and try to cut off the long line of traffic waiting at the light. Well, as I said, she’s letting these people get in front of her, and she’s stopping at four-way stop intersections and waving other cars to go in front of her, and when she is going she’s going under the speed limit, and I’m thinking, my god, she’s under thirty years old and she’s driving like she’s twice her age and I want to tell her to get going because damnit, I don’t want to die in this car, I’ve got a lot of living to do, I’ve never jumped out of an airplane or made a million dollars or been in a lustful affair with a high-ranking political candidate, and if I am going to go out I surely don’t want to die of boredom while someone else is staying in the most congested lane of traffic when they could just as easily get into the next lane and cut everyone off in front of them when they eventually have to merge, like I would most certainly do.

And then it occurred to me, and of course it filled me with a complete and utter sense of elation, because I just love being pigeon-holed into stereotypical psychological categories: I really am a Type A person.

There’s an intersection near my house where from one direction you can either go straight or turn right, and there are two streets that merge into this one, both turning right, so the middle street has a “no turn on red” sign. And usually when I’m on this road I’m on the street that’s going straight, the left-most street, and these two streets are on my right, merging into my street. And I always catch the red light on this street, it’s like the traffic gods are displeased with my constant efforts to circumvent their wrath, so I’m always catching the red light at this street, so I’ve learned a new trick: I turn right, onto the first street on my right, but instead of doing a U-turn I turn left at the next block so I can get on that second street, all so I can turn right onto the street I was on originally before both of the other streets get to go so I can beat every one of those slow bastards to the next intersection.

I mean, yes, I’m the one that’s yelling and banging the stering wheel of my car when people on the road are idiots. Yes, I’m that person who has to race so that I can slam on my brakes at that next intersection, only 100 feet away, and yes, I am only driving a Saturn SL1, a sedan with about as much power as a 1982 Ford Mustang, but damnit, I won’t go down without a fight, I will be out there cutting everyone off, weaving in and out of traffic; I will be the one getting there before you, trust me, I will.

And even when I’m tuning the radio while driving, because, you see, I do that and put on my make-up and take notes for work and check over my schedule and if I was the Hindu god BISHNU and had ten arms I’d get a cel phone and send out faxes and eat dinner and write a novel while I was at it, but, as I said, even when I’m tuning the radio while I’m driving I only let the first second-and-a-half of the song play before I’m disgusted and change the dial to the next pre-programmed station, just to instantaneously become disgusted another six times and have to find a tape to play because all those stupid corporate pieces of shit think they should play crap over and over again in order to keep the mindless tuned in.

Well, not me, thank you very much, I don’t have the patience for that.

So, needless to say, I’ve discovered that this is a problem of mine, I wish there was some sort of therapy group for this so I could go to my weekly “Type A Anonymous” meetings, but we’d probably all be pushing each other out of the doorway thirty seconds before the meeting is supposed to start, saying, “Get out of my way ass-hole, you should have thought about being late before you tried to cut me off,” and the meetings themselves would probably be filled with people yelling, “Hey, jerk, I think I was talking, what, do you think you’re god or something, show some respect.“

God, and I know this is a problem of mine, I know this “Type A-ness” transcends into every realm of my life. When I get on the elevator in the morning to get to my office on the eighteenth floor, I try to make the doors close as quickly as possible so no one can get on the elevator with me, because you know, I really do hate all people and surely don’t want to be in a cramped confined space with a bunch of strangers. But when people do get on the same elevator as me, they invariably press the buttons for floors fifteen, sixteen and seventeen, and I start pursing my lips, stopping myself from saying, “Oh, you people couldn’t stand to walk a flight of stairs, you just had to press all of these buttons and stop me from getting to my god-damned floor in a reasonable amount of time.”

Even walking on the sidewalk in the city, I always get stuck behind someone that’s a full foot shorter than me and a full thirty pounds heavier, someone who labors to walk very, very slowly, someone who actually sways rhythmically when they walk, like a metronome, or like a person standing on the edge of a dance floor, rocking back and forth, back and forth all too afraid to actually ask someone to dance, or else afraid to go out and dance and make a fool of themselves in front of the cool people who have figured out what rhythm really is. And I’m walking behind this person, almost tripping over myself because this walking pace is just unnaturally slow, so to pass the time until there’s an opening on the left side of the sidewalk so I can pass them and walk like a human being again I start to mimick them, swaying with my walk, more for my own entertainment than anyone else’s.

Yes, more than a human being I’m a human doing, and I hate having to depend on the schedules of others in order to get ahead of them all.

Yes, I am the person in line at the grocery store with three items, shifting my weight from foot to foot, frantically scanning the other lines, the person who wants to ask the person in front of them, “can’t I get in front of you, I’ve only got three items and you have two full crocery carts full of crap like Cheetos, Pepsi, fish sticks and Haagen Daz Cookie Dough ice cream.” Yes, I am the person who has four different sets of plans for any given evening because if any one event gets too boring I can pick up and say, “Oh, sorry, I’m supposed to be at a meeting by now,” instead of having to tell them that they’re too boring or that I just have no idea whatsoever of how to relax. Yes, I am the person who coasts toward an intersection when I know the timed pattern of the traffic lights, and know that I can manage to get to this intersection without ever having to make a complete stop so when that light does change I can accellerate faster than everyone else, pass everyone by, and have the open road to myself, wide open in front of me.

I’m already guessing that at my funeral, when the long procession of cars is creeping toward the cemetary, I’ll be opening that casket up and whispering to the driver of the hearse, “hey, what do you say we floor it and blow everyone off in line? We could probably grab a beer at the corner bar and still be able to beat everyone to the grave site,” because, as I said, I’m a “Type A” person, and I’m going to make damn sure I do as much living as I possibly can, I’m not going down without a fight, and wherever that god-damned goal line is, I swear, I’ll beat everyone to it.

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