It stands to reasons that a state within smelling distance from NYC, with only two major, parallel, “North-South” roads, 3.5 million residents and acre-sized residential lots, there will be some traffic.
Now, I am not opposed to spending some time in my car. In fact, I adore being alone in my car, despite my green liberal leanings. It gives me time to shout obscenities at strangers who (most of the time) can’t hear me, time to sing at the top of my voice along to “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne whilst fantasizing about a former PF Chang’s bartender I used to have a crush on, and time to make fun and random plans for the weekend, all which will probably be crushed by Colin’s never-ending work schedule.
Other Drivers and their Dogs
However, my time is often marred by the presence of others. And thus, grows my fascination with a never-ending list of oddball events that force people to suddenly brake their cars and drive 22 in a 55-mph zone.
The most recent one — which occured last Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon on the Merritt Parkway — was pooping dogs.
Now it should be explained that the dogs weren’t pooping ON this beautiful four-laned highway. They, and their owner (a bald, Nissan 4×4-owner wearing khaki shorts, a navy blue polo, sandals and wire rimmed glasses… that’s how slow we were going) were pulled off the side of the highway, COMPLETELY, onto the grassy side. They were so far off the side of the road, I could have pulled up alongside of his car in the space between concrete and vehicle.
His puffy chows (ala Martha Stewart) were on their leashes and doing their business. The man even had a plastic bag on his hand, in order to pick up what they left behind.
Now, I had been listening to the radio. There was mention of an accident slowing traffic down somewhere. In fact, about 10 cars back, and for about 7 miles, a cop with his lights flashing, had been trying to snake his way through the crush, presumably to get to the dying people further along. He wasn’t going anywhere either.
The interesting thing to note about this? Once we passed those dogs — once the oh, so intriguing event of dogs pooping on the roadside — had gone by, the traffic loosened up and I was able to nearly resume my cruising speed. The cop, however, was still buggered behind an oblivious, left-lane driving BMW, the driver who likely hadn’t even left the office yet and was miles away.
Mother Nature and the Road
Another fascinating travel hazard, apparently, is thunderstorms.
Now, I have been living in England, where these are somewhat rare, so it would be understandable if they distracted me (or other visiting Englanders) on my tootle to the shop. However, I am wondering about the average New Englander. Thunderstorms and nor’easters should be par for the course.
For example.. the other day, I was driving home, minding my business. A storm was brewing and there were a few flashes of lightning. No big whoop. But suddenly, a clap of thunder boomed across the air. And there was another lightning, a different kind. The flash of red brake lights. And just like that, we were all standing still.
No rain yet. No wind yet. Just a thunder.
Hey, I have an idea! Let’s all stop right here, on Interstate 95, and watch the thunder! I hear it’s just recently been invented. Grrr…
Oblivious People on their Car Islands
People do stupid things while driving, far more risky than letting their kids play outside in the yard with a sack full of rusty tools.
One Suburban driving Mom exited onto a clover exit ramp in front of me, then the driver suddenly changed her mind. Slammed on her brakes and stopped, almost completely (I was going about 40 and slowing from 60 on the highway). Then she swerved back onto the highway, in front of another car. She wasn’t a little ways onto the ramp… she was 200 yards down the ramp and had to drive up over unpaved surface to get back on the road. Anyway, thank-the-Jesus-fish she had that sturdy Suburban, for off-road driving.
Why? Maybe it’s because despite the thousands of other cars, drivers feel alone, like they are the only ones around. Maybe, it’s because they think they are invincible. Maybe they are actually singing the Pat Benatar song “Invincible” and they got so shot up with adrenaline it took over their sensible minds. Maybe they too were daydreaming about a redheaded bartender. Who knows?
All I know is, somewhere along the line people seem to have forgotten that even though driving is fun, it’s really more than that: it’s a responsibility and a privilege. Even with all the bells and whistles of safety, we have to take care first by being careful and paying attention.
Otherwise we end up oblivious and wrecked — sheep herd of Paris Hiltons — at a loss for that privilege.