Dear tailgater,

You are the person who drove less than a foot behind my bumper for several miles along Crow Canyon road at a little after 9 am on April 30, 2016. You clearly did not appreciate the fact that I was only driving 5 miles an hour over the limit, judging from your extensive use of your hilariously underpowered horn. (Seriously- it took me a few honks to even realize that you were the one using it.) And even then, I wasn’t 100% certain that you were mad at me; I honestly suspected you might be trying to alert me to some mechanical problem with my car that was apparent only to people behind me. It wasn’t until the road added a lane that you were able to speed past me, flip me off, and arrive at a red light five seconds before I pulled up next to you, and that I was able to discern your true intent.

I can understand why you might have been a little annoyed at that particular moment. You had doubtlessly sat in the five-car traffic jam for twenty or thirty whole seconds before being able to tailgate me. And I have to confess that if you were mad specifically at me for the traffic jam, well, you’re pretty on-target there.

Yes, I was a primary cause of those stopped cars. I confess wholeheartedly.

It might be of interest to you that the reason I pulled to a stop, forcing you and the other three cars behind me to do the same, was that a cow was on the road. Not a large cow, by bovine standards- it couldn’t have weighed more than seven or eight hundred pounds- but it was a pretty solid chunk of beef, and it was scared and confused, to boot. Now, I could have tried to drive past it, since it was in the oncoming lane. That might have been unwise, though, based on its subsequent decisions. You see, once I and the oncoming driver decided to give this animal the right of way, it looked me dead in the eye, then scampered across our lane and off the road. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen an adolescent cattle scamper, but it has a way of lightening the heart that is simply magical. Also, I wasn’t crushed to death by a frightened cow, so bonus! Believe me- if I had been, you’d probably have had to wait even longer to get to our shared red light. Possibly several minutes.

That probably does not interest you, however. Your desire to understand the road conditions more than six feet in front of your bumper (my approximate position) seemed nonexistent.

So instead, let’s talk about something that interests me: our respective destinations. I do not know what yours might have been, but you clearly feel it was extremely important; enough to risk both our lives, along with my wife’s, and whatever passenger(s) you might have had. My destination that morning was some three hours away, in Chico, California. That’s where my father-in-law has been hospitalized following a car wreck last week that led to several broken bones, fractured vertebrae, a concussion, a totaled vehicle, and the unknown fate of the family heirlooms he and his brother were transporting from Oregon. Reports are varied, but the most reliable information seems to suggest that the car had to be lifted off of my father-in-law before he could receive medical attention. That both men are alive, and expected to make full recoveries, is far more luck than any of us could have any reason to hope for.

So please- if, by chance, you happen to read this, get in touch with me. Because I am extremely curious where you were headed, and what exactly your destination was worth to you.