The other day I got stuck in traffic. I’m not talking about a little bit of rush hour traffic in which you slow down to thirty or forty miles an hour, but good-old-fashioned-road-construction traffic in which you come to a complete stop and then inch forward slowly as traffic ten miles ahead of you bottlenecks into one lane. It’s a good thing I wasn’t in a hurry.
I was on my way to a conference, where I was staying the night—by myself so I could get some writing done—and the sun was out and my convertible top down, so I was in a pretty good mood. I popped in my Nickelback CD and cranked up the volume to deafening, hoping I wasn’t disturbing the people in the cars around me.
“Hm,” I said to myself. “Is that guy really playing the guitar while he’s driving?”
As luck would have it, the traffic in my lane moved forward at a little faster pace than the traffic in his lane, and eventually I caught up to the European compact with the guitar/hand sticking out. So, I turned off my music—for a minute—to see if I could hear.
Not only was the guy playing as he drove, but he was also singing at the top of his lungs. No exaggeration. He was two lanes over, and I could make out faint chords of an unfamiliar tune. It sounded sort of Vaudeville-ish, but I might have been partially deaf thanks to Nickelback. Anyway, being that I was on my way to a writer’s conference, I had writing at the front of my brain, so it occurred to me that the guy might be a songwriter. After all, I had a piece of paper anchored under my leg and a pen in my empty cup holder in case I needed to quickly jot down a great idea. So, I couldn’t fault him for writing a song as he was stuck in traffic.
But, just to be safe—knowing how involved writing can be when the mood is right—I sped ahead until I couldn’t see him in my rearview anymore. Because even though I understand how important it is to get that epiphany down on paper the moment it hits, I didn’t want to be in that guy’s path when he hit the gas to keep up with traffic.
I might have ended up Vaudeville toast, with a side of squished Mustang on the side.