Are you afraid to make left turns when you drive?
I know. It’s an odd question. But I’m asking because I HATE them. Do you know why? I’m not good at them. And you know what else?
Don’t take this personally, ok?
You’re not very good at them either.
America is lousy at making left turns. So many claims came across my desk because someone was making a left turn and got hit. Usually, it was because someone ran the red light or someone misjudged when making an unprotected turn. And then the next thing you know…T-boned, dude!
Damages. Injuries. Angry, upset people. And for me, job security. At least for now.
I’m not judging. As I said, I’m terrible at left turns too. And let’s be honest…left turns are a hassle. You’re crossing against oncoming traffic. You’re sitting, waiting for the oncoming traffic to clear, often with a line of impatient people behind you. You get an opening but there’s a car farther down and you’re not sure if you have enough time. You think you do, and so you pull forward…and you either make it across or…
Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to have a protected arrow. Those are the best. They’re safe. You wait patiently in line and there’s no pressure from the cars behind you because everybody knows you have to wait for the little green arrow before you can go. So the arrow turns on, you confidently pull forward, secure in the knowledge that you have the right of way.
And then some douchebag runs the red light and…T-boned, dude!
I know. I know. That’s the exception rather than the rule, but consider my point of view when I see 10 of these a day. My perspective gets a little skewed.
I can hear you saying, “Ok, Kat…what’s your point?”
My point is, left turns are a bitch, whether it’s on the road or in life. I’ve never been good at navigating them in either place. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ll drive out of my way to avoid them.
I’m wish I was joking. I get terrible anxiety when I’m driving and I’ll make a right turn three times to get to where I need to go if I can avoid a left turn. Left turns have paralyzed me.
That’s why I’ve spent so much time navigating my way through life as safely as possible.
But safe can be paralyzing too.
Safe in life means you never experience new things. Safe in life means you miss out on opportunities you never knew you could experience. Safe in life means you’re not really living.
I’ve worked at my job for sixteen years. It’s a good job in that it pays well, you get to help people, and my coworkers for the most part have been great people.
I know people who started several years after I did and they have moved so many rungs up the ladder that I can’t even see that high. They were ambitious and this was not a job to them. It was a career. Their life’s work.
This job is not my life’s work. It was not a career to me. It was a job. It was a paycheck. It was a means to an end, with the end being a comfortable retirement. I never pursued it with any kind of passion or fervor.
That’s not to say I didn’t work hard. I worked damned hard. I worked twelve hour days, six days a week, for months at a time during peak times. I’ve worked more overtime hours, weekends, evenings and holidays than I can count.
I missed out on a huge chunk of time with my son while he was growing up. I’ll never get that back and I can never be compensated for it.
But I did it for what I thought would be that elusive goal at the end. I thought I was working toward a reward. I set aside doing things that fulfilled me, trying to do the “safe” thing.
It’s like I gave up waiting at the red light. I merged over out of the turn lane and started driving straight ahead. I had my eyes on the prize at the end of the road.
On May 4th of this year, I found out the end of the road is coming up quickly and there is no prize.
T-boned, dude. Right at the intersection of Middle Age and Where Did My Youth Go.
Injury to my ego. Damage to my long term plan. Angry, upset people all around. I’m one of them.
There is no Claims Adjuster to pay for my damages or to make up for the inconvenience. Just me, a Husband Dude who already works too hard, and a stack of bills we racked up replacing things that decided to break down at the worst possible moments.
In auto adjusting terms, it’s a Total Loss.
Try getting news like that at noon and then march your ass back to your desk and continue working to 6:00 p.m.
You aren’t so much sitting at your desk as you’re sitting on the proverbial curb, staring at the wreckage in front of you. Then the person who T boned you comes walking down the aisle and asks if you’re ok.
Am I ok?
So many things come to mind, but “ok” is not one of them.
I’m blunt, and I’ve got a colorful vocabulary, but I’m not stupid. I still need to salvage something from this shit storm. That wreckage I’m staring at is still worth something. A means to another end.
In the ten seconds it took me to take a long drink from my bottle of water and she and I eyeballed each other, I got T-boned again, but in a good way, if there’s any such thing.
In those ten seconds, I realized safety was no longer a priority. That was over and done with. Time to be a little daring. Time to quit doing something I don’t enjoy for a paycheck. Time to spend time with my loved ones instead of just coming home long enough to drop off a paycheck and then turn around and leave again. Time to do something I love. Time to do something I do anyway and start making some money from it. Time to have a career instead of a job.
Time to make a left turn, bitches.
I put my bottle of water down, leaned back in my chair and looked her in the eye. I don’t know if I looked crazy or if I had my Resting Bitch Face on.
“I’m fine,” I said a little more emphatically than I would’ve liked.
Not going to lie. She looked a little surprised.
“Are you sure?” she asked, with a concerned look on her face. I’m guessing I looked a little crazed.
“Absolutely,” I said with a little more sarcasm than I intended and I shrugged. Because really, what is the expected answer to this question?
She stayed at my desk for a bit, chatting. I honestly don’t remember much of what she said. I think she might have been offering some tips for things I could do for job hunting around here since I expressed I had no interest in moving with the company. When she finally walked away, I pulled up Google on my computer.
“How to make money writing.”
That’s literally where I started. Probably two million searches later, here I am, with a ridiculous blog and very little real-world writing experience. If I’m to believe what I see on Twitter, I’m about twenty-five years older than most of the beginner bloggers out there, and I don’t write about lipstick or trying to maintain my 143,000 followers while passing a Statistics class.
I’m not making money. Yet.
Baby steps, you know.
This is new territory for me. I’m a mostly “safe” person. In my life, I’ve probably only made two really big “left turns”.
The first one was when I quit my job, packed up my apartment and my three cats, and I moved 900 miles to marry a Dude I met on the internet.
Some might disagree, but it seems to have worked out well.
The second was when we took out a loan, went to a fertility doctor, and trusted that the procedure would work the first time because that’s all we had the money for.
It did. He’s fifteen now.
This is the third one. I’m at the red light, in the left-turn-only lane.
My hands are gripping the wheel tightly, and my palms are sweaty. I’m nervously checking my rearview mirror, feeling the pressure to just move.
I’m not going to lie. I’m nervous. I’m worried. There’s a big part of me that is just absolutely certain I’m going to get creamed; but for the first time in a long time, I’m able to quiet that side of me. For the first time in a long time, my doubts are less noisy than the voice saying, “Just let go and do it”.
When the light turns green, I’m making a break for it.
And I’m going to make it across. No T-bone this time, dude.
Count on it.