I was driving home from the mall Sunday, thinking about driving. I was in the far-right lane cruise-controlled at 70, woolgathering about a lot of what we talked about last week — safety and road stress, mainly, but also how the hell I’m going to teach my daughter to navigate these crazy freeways. How hard it is to resist the velocitizing effect of your fellow travelers. How you should never, ever travel faster than you feel comfortable. How margins of error are so much shorter at higher speeds. I glanced in the rear-view, where a BMW grille was closing in at a terrifying pace. My foot, which had been resting ineffectually on the accelerator (cruise control, remember) twitched up reflexively, just as the Beamer blew past on my left and wove another stitch around and through the cars ahead before disappearing into the flow of traffic.
He had to have been going 100, if not more. I’m assuming it was an auto-show tourist of some sort or another. The same thing happened to us Saturday night around 11, only it was a Dodge with fancy LED taillights. I don’t know if it was a dealer or a journalist or a corporate test driver, Ryan-goddamn-Gosling or Michael-goddamn-Shumacher, but that is an ignorant, stupid thing to do on an American freeway, especially one demonstrably full of people who are doing everything except paying attention to what they’re supposed to be doing. But it’s auto-show week, and that’s what happens here.
I’ve driven fast enough times myself to know why people do it and how invincible you can feel in a new, well-made car with all the latest safety features, but treating I-75 like an F-1 proving ground has too many hazards to count, including something as simple as my automatic reaction to seeing a car roaring up from behind — to take my foot off the gas. A sudden decrease in my speed, a closing hole in the lane to the left, and we all might have ended up in a sheet-metal sandwich. (I wonder how I’d be described in the story/obit, “journalist,” “blogger” or the ignoble “area woman.”)
And it did seem the BMW driver knew what s/he was doing. It’s the multi-lane swerve-overs behind me that freak my cheese, as so much depends on the trustworthiness of your fellow motorist, and that is? Not bloody trustworthy.
While we’re on the subject, for those of you who didn’t follow the comment thread Friday, the story of the firefighter killed while changing a tire on the freeway — the very incident that started this train of thought — has taken a turn. Now it’s looking less like a tragic accident and maybe a staged one, but the investigation continues.
Hope your weekend was a fine one. We went to see a production of “The Tempest” at a local bar. It was fun, but I think I’ll blog about it over at 42 North in the next day or two. But this part is for you guys alone: The actor who played Caliban was a real scenery-chewer, and had a very funny bare-ass scene that left me thinking our own Caliban chose his handle well.
A little bloggage:
Mitt Romney and his Irish setter — the anecdote that won’t go away, by the writer who dug it up. HT: John Wallace.
Finally, some housekeeping: I think this week will be the one I’ll start experimenting with some shorter material. Classes start at Wayne today, and my life will hit another gear. I’m thinking writing posts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and pix-with-linx Tuesday and Thursday. Not sure how it will shake out, but I want to put up a new post daily, but perhaps one that won’t take quite so much of my increasingly scarce free time.
We’ll see how it works out.