People on the Highway

Rainy morning drive.  Skies were dark and water droplets hit the car causing a constant pinging sound.  We were basically inside a warm, moving white noise machine.  The kids had been awake since about 5:00am, so their ride to school was a really good nap that started at the end of the driveway.

That meant I got to play with the radio a bit.

Today’s Tale: Spirit of Radio Would Have Been a Great Title, but it was Already Taken by People Way Better at this than I am.

There’s a radio station in Denver that focuses on local bands.  It is an amazing premise.  Some bands are absolutely amazing, some were obviously only able to afford what a local band should be able to afford for recording but you know they absolutely kill it at live shows, and some bands…some bands just make the whole legal recreational pot thing seem like a really bad idea.  Perhaps my aversion to jam band stuff is my love of punk rock.  Punk songs get their point across in 90 seconds.  Jam bands need 90 seconds to let their sousaphonist play a C.

My town is mostly just out of range of the Denver station, which sucks because static is basically the opposite of music.  A few weeks ago, a glorious event happened in northern Colorado; the Denver station got a northern relay signal.  To mark the awesomeness, I redid my car’s little radio station pre-set buttons and the local band focused station is now a mainstay.

It totally destroyed my muscle memory for switching stations.

As I fumbled about the station buttons like a trout realizing it jumped into a boat and is flailing around to correct the situation, all I could see was headlights and darkened cabins.  Every vehicle looked empty, ghostly, just faceless machines going about their day in anonymity.  This morning, there seemed to be no people on the highway.  No lights illuminated smiles or silhouetted enthusiastic car dancers, no rear view mirrors reflected the intricate steering wheel drumming that fills so many mornings.  It was a drive that required the radio to make it whole.

And all I could do was hit the “Preset 4” button repeatedly, expecting a different result.

When it finally came together and I remembered that the new “Preset 1” button was dedicated to the locals radio station and not NPR, which now fills Preset 2 which bumped the alt-rock station to 3, pushing the comedy station to 4, moving the pop station to 5, relegating the classic rock station all the way across the panel to 6; boy would my face have been red if anyone could have seen it.

So in the darkness, flipping radio stations and unable to see my fellow morning commuters, songs and commercials helped fill in the story.  The Mercury slowly traversing the rain soaked highway in front of me was about to have a day of introspection thanks to Bastille.  A Honda that drove a little too close was off to work at a tire shop having a “sale so crazy you’ll think we’re going out of business” (because local ads are delightful).  A really beat up Jeep is highly concerned with water rights according to the snippet of NPR that filled the car when we passed each other.  To my surprise, the town’s biggest Blink 182 fan drives a classic Buick.

What was reinforced for me today, on a rainy drive on a dark morning, was that everyone has a story.  Everyone is the hero of their own story and that is awesome.  Just as I could not see the drivers around me, they could not see me.  For the others, I’m a background character and that is amazing.  We drive together, we live in the same town and we are making stories together.  The songs on a radio that simply will not cooperate provide a great soundtrack and for today the filled out the story.

The radio was not very kind to the BMW that drove by while “Cotton Eye Joe” played over the pop station.  I don’t think that is really the aura that driver wants to put out there.


Thanks for reading!




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