Officer Alex waxes poetic on his least-favorite driving techniques
Five hundred yards to go, and the turn signal was flashing steadily in advance at 20 miles per hour. Then…15 MPH. 10 MPH. 8 MPH…and now a complete stop. In the right-side driving lane of a four-lane state highway.
He didn’t even use the emergency lane, a lane wider than the actual traffic lane he was blocking at 5:15 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. No. He came to a complete stop and then proceeded to turn into a church parking lot whose driveway was 20 feet wide. My point being, of course, that he could have made the turn at 40 MPH instead of putting it in park and walking around with a lantern to check all four corners before making a move. (My irritation, clearly, was approaching radiological in nature.)
He was my greatest pet peeve, second only to the tailgater.
There is a special place in hell for people that ride the ass of the car in front of them. It causes the pulse of the non-obnoxious driver to almost instantly double and attention goes from what’s happening in front of the 2,000-pound speeding car to behind it, exponentially increasing the odds of something unpleasant happening to all involved.
I had a friend years ago (WAY pre-police) that had a very simple method of dealing with this brand of scum: He just hit the brakes. He drove an ’89 Dodge, back when it said “Dodge” on the front, and “Ram” on the sides. The front bumper had a “CIA” tag on it, and the rear bumper was distinguished by being solid diamond-plate steel, and he would occasionally point to blemishes on it with pride. Because when you tailgated that guy? He would tap the brakes a few times as a warning, but if you persisted on being so close he couldn’t see your headlights, the third time he just stomped on the brakes no matter where he was.
Highway 153, the East Ridge Tunnels…he would wait long enough to see the cloud of steam from a radiator billow from behind, then extend a middle finger outside his window and continue on down the road, the howl of his laughter eclipsing the sound of the venerable Chrysler 318 under the hood.
Was it legal? The wreck was the fault of the person behind him initially (“Following Too Closely” is a crime), but the instant he left the scene the script was flipped. But he didn’t care. And perhaps the other person learned a lesson? No one does that anymore, because what they call “trucks” today don’t have plain steel bumpers, but his tales of automotive Darwinism still bring a smile despite the professional conflict that may imply.
Next? Driving side by side.
My house is only accessible by a four-lane state highway, and in that part of town? Every day…is Sunday. If there are only three vehicles in any given mile of this road, I am convinced of two things: One of the vehicles is mine, and the other two are side by side at or (sweet baby Jesus) below the posted speed limit.
The irrational behavior I used to exhibit (before the calming effects of my beloved “Law” filled me with peace years ago) were probably comparable to a rhesus monkey full of Red Bull being attacked by Africanized bees in a small cage on a hot day. I would get so incensed at the inconsiderateness of the drivers ahead of me that I would actually pass my intended destination, so blinded was I. (And did that help the situation? No, sir… Not at all.)
The highlight was when one would start to ease past the other, rear bumper even with their front bumper…then a gap … a half-car length ahead… and then BAM! They would hit the brakes or the other car would then speed up, and my rage would double all over again.
This is what it is to have a car for an office. To live these horrors over and over, time and again, and to not be able to react as my instincts would have demanded I act years (and I mean years) ago. It’s bad enough my office doesn’t have a restroom, but to be subjected to these non-offense offenses day in and day out? Thank God I have the temperament for this job, because a normal man would have exploded years ago.
Still, when all is said and done, as I say in most situations: Don’t feed my monkey, or you might just get bit. And if you see the twinkle of a solid steel bumper up ahead of you? Get close and observe the classic in all its glory—but mind those brake lights.
Three strikes and you, too, may be out.