Unlit: A driving anecdote

July 30, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
July 30, 2015

The other evening, I was driving along a familiar road in New Jersey while on my way to the airport. It was after 9. The sky was dark.

It was a busy road, lined by multistory office buildings on the east side and a large shopping center and other businesses on the right. Two heavily trafficked highways feed into this road’s northern end; just south of this stretch of the road are major exchanges with even busier transportation arteries.

“That car’s lights aren’t on,” I murmured* to my passenger, referring to a boxy red sedan a few cars ahead of us.

We were traveling in the right lane. My passenger started saying something about one of the businesses we were passing. (I was never quite sure of the details, but I think that a diner had changed either its name or its appearance since she’d last noticed it.)

Suddenly, the red car stopped moving. I jammed on my brakes, as did the drivers between me and the red car. Cars behind me started veering from the right lane into the left lane in order to bypass the stoppage.

My eyes darted between the windshield and the rear-view mirror. The red car had come to a stop in the right lane, without using any signals (such as the right-turn indicator or hazard lights), in order to pick up a passenger. Traffic was moving too swiftly for me to change lanes and bypass this mess.

My passenger and I spent the next minute or so hurling imprecations at the driver of the red automobile.

“That was extremely dangerous,” one of us seethed.

“How incredibly stupid,” someone said.

When the pickup was complete, the red car resumed traveling in the lane, lights still off.

I was a little shaken. I apologized to my passenger for the sudden stop. “That car, by the way,” I said as we resumed travel, “was the one that I said had its lights off. I noticed it just before it came to a stop.”

I briefly gave thought to calling 911 to report dangerous driving, but I never got close enough to the car to read its license plate. It kept going straight as I took the exit onto the highway.

The rest of the drive proceeded without incident.


Standard disclaimer: Since I wasn’t taking notes or making recordings at the time of these events, all dialogue and thought bubbles are guaranteed to be only kind of, sort of accurate. Fortunately for you, the valued reader, this free blog comes with a money-back guarantee! 

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