The Friends I Haven’t Met

You’ve probably bumped into people in the grocery store, or Home Depot, or McDonald’s and thought they looked familiar, but you just couldn’t place them. Probably, you first saw them at McDonald’s and then when you bumped into them in the produce aisle, they reminded you of someone you saw at Home Depot. You’ll probably never have the answer to that conundrum.

But, I’ve noticed that the same thing happens on the roads. Yesterday on my way BMWZ4home from work, this zippy little black BMW Z4 whipped by me, and I recognized it as the same one I’d seen on previous trips. It’s hard to miss, because it’s a very nice looking car. I call this car’s driver, “Robin.” A step or two down from the Z4 is the black Pontiac Solstice with the license plate “SISTA,” that I see about once a week. I call her “Daphne.” There’s the red Tesla that I’ve seen several times in the past few months. I’ve not given him a name. There’s the older model Buick with a missing headlight that’s been replaced with packing tape. And of course there’s the dark red Silverado that’s tastefully lifted and has a cool custom steel bumper on the front. The strange thing about him is, I often see him at exactly the same spot on the road a few times a week. I do call him “Jethro.”

I’ve never met these people, of course. It just gives me something to do on my 30-mile ride each way. And now, I will blow. . . your. . . mind! On at least five occasions, I have had twilight zone-type encounters with other vehicles. The first time this happened was on my way to work, and I was behind an Aaron’s concrete pumping truck with the bucket’s swinging from the rear bumper and covered in concrete dust. The weird thing is, when I was driving home that night, the very same truck pulled in front of me as he merged off of I-70. Bull crap, you say. But, it was the same truck. My wife didn’t believe me either.

But then there was a white BMW with a license plate that had four nines on it. I tend to notice these things. As a side note, and NOBODY will believe this one. . . I was sitting in the drive thru at Chick-Fil-A (Okay, everyone will believe that), and I just happened to notice that the license plate on the truck in front of me had the same five numbers (No, seriously!) as my odometer reading, in the same order. And then he pulled away. I tried so hard to get a picture, but I couldn’t catch up. But. . . absolutely true.

But back to the BMW, same deal. . . on the way home from work, there he is. I’ve noticed this a couple more times, and my wife thinks I’m crazy. But then, it happened. We were on our way to my parents’ house in Pennsylvania, and we took the winding road through Butler, Maryland, which is very scenic, but you can sometimes get behind someone who may not be in as much of a hurry as you are. Such was the case on this day. . .

We were behind a pickup truck hauling a couple of ATVs on a trailer, and we were poking along Route 128, so we had ample time to notice things like the stickers on the back window of the truck. I don’t remember the sticker, but it was something funny, and my wife even pointed it out to me. We followed the truck for several miles, and then we parted company and we were on our way to Pennsylvania.

We spent several hours at my parents’ place, and then we retraced our route back down I-83 and through Butler. As we emerged from the cool expanding steel bridge from WWII that spans the river on Western Run Road, I put my right turn signal on, waiting to make my move. I pulled in behind a truck pulling a trailer with two ATVs in the back. “Holy crap!” I said, because that’s what you say at times like this. “That’s the same truck!”

“No way,” my wife says. “You’re crazy.” Because that’s what she says to me a lot.

So I did what any man would do in a situation like this. I floored it. I mean come on, I was in a Kia, and I was trying to catch an F-250 with big tires, owned by an outdoorsman. But, I caught him. I got way too close. I had to. Mary needed to see that sticker! Oh God, I hope that sticker is in that window. I’m sure this is the same truck. Oh please, please. . . YES! She saw it. I was right. Don’t shake your head! It happens!

It’s been a while since this has happened, so I’m due for another encounter. For the time being, I’ll just keep waving at the cars my Kia has made friends with. I saw the Z4 last night, Jethro this morning, I saw Daphne earlier in the week. I haven’t seen the old Buick with the tape headlight for a while. I hope he’s okay. Maybe he got a new car, and I just haven’t figured out which one is him yet. But I will.

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