The strangest part of living in New Jersey is the cloud of paranoia that seems to appear once its citizens get behind the wheel of a car. While waiting to pay for my groceries, I have been asked a range of personal questions from "You pregnant yet?" when a cashier noticed my wedding ring to "What street do you live on?" as a followup question to "How much did you spend on that skirt?"
The second we get behind the wheel, however, all semblances of chumminess are officially called off. We become mortal enemies, convinced that the person in front of us at the light who didn't accelerate immediately after it turned green knows we're late for our appointments. More often than not, I'm sure, we go home and embellish-and-tell the stories of the insane person who was probably out to get us because our little stick figure family is better than their little stick figure family--much like I'm about to do now (save for the embellishing part, of course).
Yesterday, I was driving down a street with a 25 mile per hour speed limit. The woman in front of me, car complete with stick figure family stickers (of course), begged to differ. Insistent upon staring at the baby in the back seat, she kept slamming on her brakes the second she got above 15. Her erratic driving may have caused me to end up closer to her car than I wanted to be, but I was in no danger of hitting her--or her "Baby on Board" sign.
Because the road is only two lanes, I spent several miles behind Stick Figure Mom. When we finally got to a green light, she braked for a good 10 seconds, waiting for the light to turn yellow before flooring it. Since it's a long yellow light and I wanted to get home for lunch, I kept "following" her and made it safely (and legally) through the light. When I caught up with the woman at the next light, she swerved to turn right to make an easy turn, hitting the curb in the process.
"I think she thinks I'm following her," I thought to myself as I hoped that she didn't need to make the next turn. (It probably doesn't need saying, but she did.) About halfway down the next street, she slammed on her brakes again, triumphantly raised both middle fingers in what I assumed to be a friendly wave, and abruptly turned into an apartment building's drive. As I continued on my merry way toward home, I looked in my mirror and noticed the woman sitting where she had turned off, staring at the child in her back seat as though I had intended to kidnap it (had she not thwarted my efforts, of course). I couldn't say it then, but I'll say it now: WTFNJ?