The Old Hand: On days when it is so hot there are warning to stay inside, it helps to remember, not too many months ago, when there were winter warnings to stay inside. This story, that our friend Paula told us, happened on one of those days several years ago.

Paula had to drive her elderly mother to the doctor. The snow was almost causing whiteout, and sane drivers were taking it slow and careful. But there’s always some!!!

First, the black SUV came up fast, and just a few yards before it would ram her car, it pulled out opposite lane. And naturally, pulled back right, cutting her off. She braked and her car turned into a toboggan, sliding and refusing to respond to her steering. Luckily, as it began to spin, the front wheels hit the curb, and the car stopped.

She said she gripped the steering wheel and tried not to cry, and tried harder not to say anything. She knew any words that came from her mouth would be words that a person should not utter in front of one’s mother.

‘Paula, honey,’ her mother said and placed her hand on Paula’s, ‘Don’t let them bother you like that. Now I don’t know how it helps but try this.’ She held her fist up and then extended her middle finger in the direction the SUV took. ‘This is what they use to do to me when I was driving.’

So enjoy the summer even with the heat and mosquitoes. State Fair and going back to school is coming fast. Next will come raking leaves and prepping the snow-blower.

Bulletin Board 9/2/13

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I was driving my usual five miles over the limit when a car behind swung out, horn honking, got even with me, and I could make out the driver leaning across the passenger and flicking her hand about something. Naturally I had to keep my eyes on the road, so I just flashed the middle finger salute.

My daughter-in-law called later to tell me she spotted my car and tried to wave hi to me. She said she was excited and told her friend that she thought that was her father-in-law ahead.

When she pulled even and I flashed the middle finger salute, she laughed and said to her friend, ‘Yup. That’s my father- in- law alright.’

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When my father-in-law’s wife died, my son Dirk asked if my wife and I wanted to ride up to Bemidji with him, his wife, and kids. I didn’t have time to accept because my wife told Dirk we would love to.

‘You know how crabby your dad gets when he drives a long way?’

I was about to say it wouldn’t be so bad if I had a relief driver. (It had been years since my wife decided not to worrying about getting a driver’s license.) But since it was almost time for her to start making dinner, I didn’t say anything more then to tell Dirk we would welcome the ride.

After the church service we all went to a hall and talked, and laughed, and ate. Another son, Danny, couldn’t make the service but made it to the hall. After he gave condolences to his grandfather, he joined us at our table. He mentioned that he ran into a lot of traffic and asked Dirk how the drive was for us. We came the day before and stayed overnight in a hotel.

‘Well,’ Dirk said, ‘It went pretty good.. The kids behaved themselves… pretty good. We took a lot of back roads and stayed of the freeways. Prettier scenery. A lot of horses and cows. We saw a lot of deer.

‘And you know, I never had to swear at a bad driver. Not even once!

Dad did it for me.’

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If it sounds like I’ve reached the old age of ‘Darn you kids! Stay off my lawn! But I like nothing better than to watch kids playing ball on our couple acres of lawn. Just like my sons did when they were growing up. Memories.

My wife likes the kids playing on the grass also. The geese stay away when the kids are at play.

Now as far as my attitude about bad drivers, I’ve had that since the days when I would be riding my horse on the side of the road and some wise guy would honk the horn trying to scare the horse. And my attitude got worse when I began to drive. And it multiplies in this age of headphones and cellphones.

The wife of a co-worker told me how her husband finally entered the modern age. He now texts on his cellphone. Their daughter texted him to find out the time to meet him for dinner.

He texted her back ‘I can’t really talk right now because I am driving home. And I do not want to get into an accident while I am driving and texting. I could even get a ticket. When I get home I will call you on the phone.’

Since I know that he can’t type, I wonder how long it took him to text this epistle about the dangers of texting while driving.

When my dad taught me how to drive the Model A, he told me to keep an eye on the rear view mirror as well as to the front. And be leery if there’s a car stopped on a cross road. Bad drivers can get you from the back and side as well as the front. And even in those days, road rage was a part of driving. A lot of fist waving. Some mild swearing and never, ever using a dirty gesture’

But road rage has escalated beyond fist waving, swearing and finger saluting.

Today you could get shot.

I have learned keep my one fingered salutes below the dash

and hide my swearing with a fake smile.

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Stay Safe;

Be it behind a windshield or COVIC mask


39 thoughts on “SKID MARKS

    • I imagine you experience bad drivers and road rage too in Italy. The only driving I did outside was Canada and Mexico. Canadian drivers were sane and considerate. Mexican drivers substituted the horn for the brake.
      Love your comment and happy face.

  1. I love your road rage stories. My husband is appalled when I flash the single finger salute because he is afraid that the driver will retaliate with a gun. Sad state of what the world has become.

  2. I am much calmer these days, but when I used to commute in heavy London traffic, I kept a wooden mallet in the door bin of my car. Just in case…I admit I ‘showed it’ to other drivers a couple of times when I was younger.
    Fortunately, guns used in road rage is unknown over here, but there have been incidents of stabbings and severe beatings following road-rage.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. My husband gets a bit “dirty” or “shirty” with other drivers on occasions, but I could never imagine him giving the finger. Nor have I ever done it. But we did have a CB radio fitted in one of the cars, and on occasions, when a driver was tail-gating or behaving badly, I would hold the speaker to my mouth as if I was plain clothes police reporting them, or calling in to truckies for back up. Surprising how many fell for the ruse and backed off.

    On the nice side, in our country roads, it is customary to lift a finger from the steering wheel as you encounter an oncoming vehicle. As there is often so few of them, it is a way of saying, “hi”. Depending on your preference, it can be the middle finger. I guess whether that is offensive or not depends on the angle 🙂

    • It is nice to hear that old fashioned politeness still exists, albeit on the other side of the world. Growing up in the country, we always gave a slight wave to other drivers. You idea about talking into the CB mic to make a bad driver think you were a cop would probably get you shot at in the US.
      It is sad to admit to Gwen, but I am ashamed at what our country has become. There are no safe highways or safe neighborhoods. Guns, hatred, violence. I know my post is somewhat offensive and makes light of a serious matter, but I try to laugh about it just to keep my head above water’
      A man was found guilty of shooting another driver. The dead man was a highly loved highschool coach, married and father of three young children. Witnesses say it wasn’t even a matter of road rage, just shooting at random at the car across the 4 lane hghway.
      Just the other night one of my sons left a gig at the Mpls Convention Center. He saw a punk attacking an elderly woman and gave chase, filming the punk as he ran. He saved the woman. His film and picking the punk out of the line up will help convict the punk who is underage and will get just a slap on the wrists. The cop thanked my son and pointed out that not many people would have bothered to do what he did.
      Stay safe and enjoy your sane county.

      • Don, it is all so gut wrenching. We are not perfect here. But as far as gun violence goes, the weapon has usually been obtained illegally by criminals who use it to shoot rival criminals. Although, innocent bystanders can sometimes be killed. Many years ago, that happened to the darling young daughter of someone my husband worked with.

        But none of it is on the scale we hear about from the States, which is simply inconceivable. To my innocent mind, it appears that some Americans have become so wealthy, or privileged, they live in perpetual fear that someone else wants to take it off them, and are prepared to attack first and ask questions later.

        And yet, for the brief time we were in the States about four years back, we met only wonderful people. Admittedly, the homelessness in San Francisco and Seattle was disturbing, but again – we in Australia are not saints in that department also. I came close myself in my younger years. I reached the couch surfing stage once or twice. But when you’re young – one steady job can pull you out of it. Not so as you age, or develop mental illness, or debilitating habits. Australian statistics show that those at the greatest risk of long-term homelessness now are single women over 55.

        While in San Francisco I did have a conversation with some bright young women, second generation Latinas, who must have worked in Silicon Valley, who told me China and India could never become a world power because they had too many poor people. I’d by then realised my hotel was only a couple of blocks from the hard scrabble region of SF so I asked them if they had walked or driven to “my” hotel which they were attending for a fundraising function.

        You guessed it. Driven straight from their comfortable homes to the hotel basement carpark without ever having to look around them.

        And now I’ve hijacked your tongue in cheek post …

      • Gwen, I love your hijacking. Your insight is great. Your mention of the rich having guns to protect their wealth is spot on. And their failure to keep the guns from being stolen is the biggest source of illegal arms in the US. And the failure to see the poverty of so many is so sad. Thank you and stay safe.

  4. You’re right, road rage seems getting bigger and bigger, there are many people who are in a hurry to arrive and get impatient for the slightest hitch,. The result is not only harsh gestures, insults, but also physical violence

  5. If you have drive all your life, well, what can I say, probably face impolite drivers every day, get the finger at least once a week, and drivers blasting their horn at you, maybe three, or more, depending where you live, I drove for over thirty years in LA, so what can I say?
    In 1995 I was involved in a near fatal accident, on a two lane country road, a guy passed a car without taking in account I was coming on the opposite direction, at about the standard 55 miles an hour, I couldn’t do anything but to get as close to the right side of the road as possible, the trouble was I hit the dirt with my two right wheels, and there was at least ten yards between the top of the road, and the bottom of the incline…
    Well to make a story short my right front wheel went flat as I tried to steer the car into the lane after the asshole passed through, and that sent me flying on a spin out of the road, to make things worst, I had a loaded trunk with heavy stuff, and the inertia sent the whole vehicle into the ditch ten yards below, and about twenty yards away, luckily, by gravity my trunk weighted by the heavy load was the first thing to hit the ground, then it fall into the passenger side, with a dust explosion.

    There were two passengers with me , two female friends that I was given a ride to another town.
    By a miracle no one was injured, even if the car was a total loss, a few months ago, someone mentioned the name of one of them and my memory of it’s bad. I couldn’t recall the name, since I haven’t seen this woman in years.
    I guess the person who I mentioned, I couldn’t put a face to her name, went and told her.
    Days later he called me and said:
    Such, and such, said you will remember her, she was with you on the back seat when you guys went off the road in 1995!
    My answer:
    “Now I remember her!”
    Bet, she will never forget me!🤔🤷‍♂️

  6. That was the only bad accident, I have being involved, plus two rear ending collisions, you know, people who hit you in the back by going too fast, close, and not paying attention, some people just cannot keep ahead a good distance, when following you, in order to apply the brakes when needed.

  7. That’s a nice “Good Morning!” read, Don, brings a smile. But it’s crazy what’s happened on the roads. Even out here, where people are generally more laid back, we’ve noticed a change over the last 10 years. When we first moved to the PNW, people would all wait at intersections for the other guy and no one would move. To us New Yorkers, it was insane. But not anymore!

  8. Between our two homes in North Carolina and the Italian Alps, we have seen every possible bit of bad driving. In Italy, I swear that I am the only one locally who stops for the stop sign in our neighboring big village of Fondo. I often get the finger and a mouthful of Italian curses for simply obeying the law. I have learned to simply mutter, “Siamo in Italia …”

  9. I tend to stay calm when I’m driving in London otherwise you could get really het up. My Dad was funny was we were little, the roads around our town were rural and narrow and one day we encountered a pack of cyclists, they were cycling two a breast in a stream of about ten rows, so no chance to get safely passed for ten minutes, there was a short opportunity to pass which my Dad took, not too fast, he then pulled in front of them and went just a little slower than they wanted to go, they were gesticulating at us, trying to pull past but Dad would speed up a little to stop them overtaking for five minutes, eventually the head of the back sat up tall in his saddle and applauded Dad, he acknowledged the message with a wave and off we went.

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