Our van came equipped with privacy glass. Everything behind the drivers area is darkened glass. We are like international men of mystery. If anyone is interested, the back of the van is generally filled with dog hair and medical supplies.
The privacy glass means that people cannot see Maggie, or any passenger in the back, when we are driving or even when we’re parked. I had one lady yell at me for parking in a handicapped zone. I didn’t respond to her at all and she looked pretty stupid when the door opened and Maggie was sitting there in her wheelchair. (To be honest, I rather enjoyed watching her squirm.)
If we are driving, people in other cars can see that I’m talking but they cannot tell if there’s anyone else in the car or not unless they have their face pressed against the glass (which would be creepy). I know I look like a nut case talking to myself, I can see drivers in other cars eyeing me suspiciously, but I really don’t care.
The other day Maggie and I were riding down 19th Avenue, is a six lane “highway” right through the city. There are lights at every corner, but they are timed and if you go 30 mph you can generally make it ten or twelve blocks without stopping. Because everyone is doing that, you have pretty much the same people next to you for several miles. You can set the tone for the ride at the first opportunity. There may be a smile or nod and there may be nothing.
Maggie was in the back slamming her hand down (her sign for no) because I didn’t have her music playing. I told her to keep her shirt on while I remedied that situation. She started laughing as Beyonce came on. I was dancing along and putting my hands up, as Beyonce ordered. I was aware of the guy next to me looking at me dancing and laughing as we sat at a red light. He was trying to make me look at him but I ignored him. I knew I looked ridiculous, I didn't need him to remind me.
All of a sudden Maggie started having trouble. She was laughing so hard she started to choke and her scarf was covering her trach tube making it even harder for her to breathe. I slammed the car into park and reached back to help her. It took only a moment and I was back ready to go before the light turned green. But the laughter and dancing had stopped for the moment.
I glanced over at the guy next to me who was staring at me completely shocked. I smiled to myself imagining what he had just witnessed. That poor guy had absolutely no idea what had just happened. He was watching me dance around and laugh like a goofball, then my affect changed, I disappeared behind the privacy glass for a minute and then reappeared with a concerned look on my face, put the car in drive and was ready to go.
I just gave him one of those nods you give another driver when you make eye contact, as if to say, Move along now, nothing to see here.
For some reason he did not stay next to me for long. Shrug.