Jul 30, 2008

Antics on the road, and I'm barely a Baritone

Yesterday I drove Ben home after a nice, long summer visit. From our home here to his other home, its easily a 5 hour drive. So we packed up the usual accoutrement's: toys, movies and games, and headed south. Of course, between movies and games and whatever else his almost-9-year-old brain can come up with, he has an unending string of questions that need answering. This can make for a rather entertaining ride.

Sadly, though, the ride home is nowhere near as entertaining because I am alone, and generally I don't have a lot of questions that I feel compelled to ask myself. So I am left to watch others as I drive. Its amazing what people do in their vehicles. I think, and this is only a theory, the most people believe that when they are in their vehicle the rest of the world is shut out. They are alone, shielded from view from the rest of humanity. What follows is a small list of observations I have made on various trips to various places that have stuck with me, and I have even gone so far as giving these people titles:

  1. The groomer: The guy with his razor, the woman with her makeup. I hope this doesn't come across as sexist, but I believe the shaver is less dangerous than the make-up artist. Using an electric razor is far easier then applying make-up (at least it seems like it should be, I can't say this from personal experience). But lets be honest, if the guy with his razor crashes he doesn't run too much risk of gouging his eye ball out with a eyelash brush, or whatever its called.

  2. The miner: Yes, I am referring to nose picking. I would not be so presumptuous as to say we all haven't had to do a little mining in our nasal cavities from time to time. After all, we are human and the proverbial booger sometimes has to be expelled. But in the front seat of your car while you are on a crowded highway? What do you plan to do with that thing once it has been extracted? It better not fling towards my car.

  3. The reader: This one always baffles me. Whether its a map, a book or the news paper, how can anyone think they can read and focus on the road? I have actually seen a man reading the paper and shaving while driving. Up until this point, I hadn't even considered the idea that we could combine titles.

  4. The singer: I myself am guilty of this one. I bring the iPod in long trips and have all my play lists easily accessible. And of course, when there is no one to talk to, sometimes singing along with the music is all there is do. I'm not embarrassed. I go all out. It entertains me. Sadly though, there are few songs out there that I can sing with relative ease, as my voice is extremely deep. I would barely qualify as a baritone, were I to have a title. More a bass. In fact, on a good day when I'm warmed up and in good form, I can hit two octaves below middle C (that's not easy).

So there we have it, a small list of the types of people I have seen while traveling the California highways. There is one person, though, who I have saved for last. And my most recent road trip provided the most amazing example of this type of person: The Idiot.

Imagine if you will, a crowded 2 lane highway, with no center divide and a lot of construction. There I sit, two cars back from the flagger who yawns while holding his "Stop" sing. The sun is shining, and its easily 95 degrees outside or higher. I'm sure I was not the only one who was getting impatient with this constant stops and the waiting in the heat. But the flagger seems oblivious to all this as he calmly drinks from a water bottle kept cold in a cooler at his feet. The the pilot car arrives and turns around. From the rear, a large orange sign with bold black letters looks like this:

Most of us have seen this sign, I am sure. So the pilot car begins its run to guide us to the safe side of the construction zone. The first car in line is a blue mini-van with Washington plates. I don't know if they do road work in Washington, or if this person was new to driving. Either way, what followed had my dumbfounded, and laughing hysterically. The pilot car moved to the opposite side of the road to go around a very large, imposing and very in the way truck that was facing us in our lane. The Washingtonian must have decided that the silly pilot car was going to slow and decided to stay in the original lane, and then started to pass the pilot car. I'm surprised I didn't crash while all this was going on because I was watching so intently. With a large truck blocking the Washingtonian, the pilot car leaned on the horn, and screamed an expletive or two, and the Washingtonian quickly fell into line. I can't vouch for what he was thinking, or if he was thinking at all. I do believe at some point he realized the error of his ways, and was quite rattled by it. Because when the pilot car turned off to let us free from our escort, the Washingtonian slammed on his brakes for a brief second and nearly followed the pilot car into a small driveway.

I don't know how some of these things happen, but I'm pretty sure you can't make them up.


  1. It is amazing what some drivers will pull. My favorite is the shoulder driver in heavy traffic. And they usually get away with it. Dad's favorite is the erratic weaver that weaves and still only gets ahead a few feet. Drivers are a strange group.
    Love ya Mom

  2. You forgot the group I often fall into: the "eaters"... I'm always trying to down a messy burger while I drive... one of these days it's going to come back to haunt me!

  3. And then there are the The Talkers. Even though now it is law that you use a hands free device, people are just using that hand that used to hold the phone to gesticulate madly while having their engrossing conversation. Whether or not they have one hand or two hands on the wheel, they are still distracted and lost in their own little world.

    And yes, I'm guilty of that myself, but at least I make an effort to stay connected to the road.


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