Your “crazy driver” is my premeditated risk

By: D. S. Klausler

I love to drive. Backing up a bit, my pal Mark over at PieceOfMindfulprompted this diatribe a while back. I’ll get to the specifics, but meanwhile know that driving in Chicagoland can be mentally challenging and is frequently infuriating. Traveling out on the big road has had its events, but the city mayhem is the driving (hah!) theme herein. In typical fashion, I’ll stay modest and brief. No, I am not in a hurry on the road, but…

The title says much, but I’ll go further, oh yes, I will: I’m likely a better [automobile] driver than most, if not all Formula One drivers – on city streets and expressways, operating a mass-produced vehicle, in all four seasons. Big deal, many of you are as well – and I mean that. Here’s an idea: the Canadian GP should be held in WINTER… chains n shit or SPIKES! Those rich prisses being chauffeured their whole young life and occasionally when actually behind the wheel and NOT on a defined manicured circuit are driving some of the finest performance vehicles manufactured today. I saw Lando behind the wheel of his McLaren 720S on the streets of London – he looked like a child trying to handle a MiG-35 in a dogfight

Many of those rich weenies have spent and do spend winter as snowbirds – not The Iceman though – that guy could put to shame any Ice Road Trucker or Outback Road Train operator with just one statement: “Shut up, I know what I’m doing!” He has that intrinsic feel for anything motor driven with wheels. Hmmm, I bet he could handle a ZTZ-99 after just looking at the controls – it does have wheels after all, they just do not touch the ground.

Think of the quality drivers around you in your typical urban rush hour – aged 10 through 110 – seems like ALL hours! Mine is on Interstate 55 in and out of Chicago – tens of thousands at the same time – seems like the same LANE! Actually, ALL the “expressways” there and then are remarkable – some have very colorful nicknames (that I’ll not repeat here) due to the dominant ethnic background of the local players. >100mph is fairly common… so is <35mph… independent of the present volume. I have never driven in L.A., but every “news” scene that I have ever viewed and direct reports from the nephew out there say the roads are simply packed – you couldn’t make time if you wanted to. Race? Forget about it. My first go round (literally) in Atlanta was nothing… routine – even with its six lanes holding triple-pup semis, Jethro’s stake-bed and ATVs simultaneously. I only breezed through the outskirts of Philly (from Ebright Azimuth, DE to High Point, NJ), with my brother, once – in a deluge, swimming in the woefully unmaintained and packed lanes at 2:00am and +80mph. Wifey and I were quite surprised at the awful I84 drivers through Hartford (much like Milwaukee), possibly due to its position betwixt NYC and Boston (raceway).

Let’s just set aside that preposterous horseshit of Vin Diesel and his “precision drivers”. They would be DEAD on any of a variety of Chicago roadways (potentially from other than driving). They do have a few things correct in those fairy tales though: shoulders are usable driving lanes; the oncoming side has usable lanes; both exit ramps and entrance ramps should always be considered for maximizing gain or at least minimizing loss; the median is handy but generally slippery with grass, gravel, snow or unpredictable garbage. Construction zones are tricky… you might be shocked to hear that even Wifey has used one in an emergency – to the amazement and later thanks of her still shell-shocked passenger.

I mentioned Mark as the impetus here… he sent me a now unrecallable retort once that included relayed commentary from his obviously brilliant brother-in-law Gomer in which that guy chastised “those Illinois Bastards ‘ruining’ Wisconsin” with their driving tactics – or some such. Presumably, he spoke of the pristine version within his delusions that he is acquainted with, and not the shithole that is Milwaukee and its collection of finely trained 4th-world drivers (that would be immigrants bringing their unusual behind-the-wheel skillsets to this already 3rd-world and continually diminishing society). By the way, Gomer, Illinoisians contribute Billion$ in tourism annually to your state’s revenue stream. I expect that much of that money is distributed in the usual fashion though: anywhere BUT that which benefits real people. The Office of the Secretary of State (of Illinois) holds the task of everything Driver’s License related – visiting a local facility was a horrific experience to me and many of my cohorts back in the day… it’s just a sometimes hours-long sad joke now. I cannot read street signs sans prescription glasses; I had no problem passing both the “manual” vision test, and the electronic machine – WITHOUT my glasses – something is not right there. Perhaps my good looks and friendly tone with the nice third grade educated employee might have made a difference – I’m not sure. Many, many instances in the colorful history of corrupt Illinois (especially Cook County, and The City itself) have made headline news and have without doubt contributed to the problem of highly questionable vehicle operators out on the road. This may sound hypocritical coming from me, but I believe operating a motor vehicle on a public roadway should be restricted… a privilege requiring rigid examination and unyielding enforcement. Something spins in my head that European countries do a much better job than that which is accomplished here in the land of I Don’t Care, Where’s My Handout. Beside all that, I explained to Mark some of what you will read below, and that there is quite a difference between operating a Deere X9 on your back 1,000 and an automobile along with the vacationing masses through The Dells on a summer weekend. Gomer was obviously confused in his relayed critique. Mark’s genuine reply to my supplied information may be summarized as “Oh, yes, I see.”

The vast majority of my driving experiences these days have been made exponentially worse by a single relatively new prevalent item – the cell phone. Just awful – and stupid. Shit drivers willfully choosing to be even more inattentive than ever before; applying makeup, unwrapping a Chicago Style dog or filling a Trucker Bomb would be a much-preferred activity while steering with an elevated knee. Before we get to the details of this day, let’s take a trip down memory lane – it was friendly and beautiful, with roadways much like that of Apian Way quality and design of the day… NOT!

Goin’ down the highway,
Doin’ 94,
Dad cut a fart,
Blew me out the door.
Engine couldn’t take it,
Wheels fell apart…
All because Dad blew a supersonic fart.

My genius schoolmates were repeating that gold to each other in a sixth grade “English” class when I was misidentified as the purveyor of troublemaking and directly challenged by the “teacher” to repeat that with which we were so thrilled. I had a shit, mentally abusive father, hence it was no big deal to me to be confronted by an intimidating adult – in this case a former marine, if I recall correctly. This charlatan was not qualified in any way to teach ANYTYHING, let alone our country’s purported language. So, while four or five of us sat after class, with him bearing down, I repeated the poetry above and received a simple blank stare in return. End of story.

I came of age in the western suburbs of Chicago in the 70s. The local public high schools offered “Drivers Ed” to those students fifteen years and older. Back then we started with Simulators, combined with some very brief bookwork. The Simulators… wow, practically cartoon visuals, one frame per second displayed on a small movie screen within a booth with a steering wheel, brake and gas pedals, maybe a mirror (no memory of such) and I’m pretty sure of a turn signal arm; rudimentary audio too, I think. IPDE: Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute – droned over and over. We all laugh at that to this day, but that is exactly how I drive; maybe I perform that more frequently than most… or quicker – who knows. You’d be insane NOT to use such procedural methodology – and very proficiently – if you intend on rolling fifty over the limit amongst taxis, Uber, Lyft, Limos, buses, shuttles, and a variety of illegal livery common to the Midway International Airport arena in which I drive most days. The bookwork may have been simply the Illinois Rules of the Road – nothing exists in my failing memory about that within the sparse curriculum. I do recall knowing some things about “rules”, so I must have picked up something somewhere. The classroom and work were hilarious and completely unrepresentative of any possible road scenario; gym “teachers” were in charge. Recall what Dewey Finn accurately stated: “Those who cannot Do, teach; those who cannot Teach, teach Gym”. We persevered, all to attain the almighty “Learners Permit”. To this day I do not know if that was a creation of the SoS or the insurance industry, or a mess of both – money is involved for sure. Strangely, I do not recall what was offered at my own children’s somewhat affluent and highly praised high school – maybe because they both attended private lessons outside of that school. Anyway, we all earned the claimed right eventually to climb to the next step with Permit in Hand: “Behind the Wheel”.

I was unfortunate to have been assigned to someone who was commonly known as The Worst Driving Instructor – just great. It wasn’t enough to have hidden from my father’s brow beating all those years, I would now be imprisoned in a vehicle with another someone many had claimed was bad – and I was very nervous. I think that I had driven a few laps around a local cemetery – as was the norm… that’s it for experience. They spoke true… but he was worse. Barking and waving his arms in the passenger seat making the three of us students much, much more skittish (not cautious: big difference) than we may have been with a qualified instructor or even a normal human being. I remember only two things: 1) “Stop turning the wheel while not moving, you’ll WEAR OUT THE TIRES!” (WTF?) and 2) “Are you going to start turning BEFORE THEY START HONKING ALREADY?!” (This was just as right-on-red was made legit). Both incredible; etched forever. Then, and in my clear memory, he qualified as an asshole. Just suburban streets though… not too bad; we never ventured on to the catastrophic expressway that was near by.

Indeed a memory I’d like to certainly purge, but I survived and passed. I remember very little from my early days of the rarely driven or borrowed family vehicle. I do not know when I visited the SoS branch with my mother (an unhelpful nervous Nelly) for the Driving Test, both written and behind the wheel, but I passed them as well. I had been marked one wrong on the written, and it seems strange now, but I did not know that one of the alleged design functions of a merge ramp was to gain appropriate speed to enter the high-speed roadway. I think that this was because entry ramps in the Chicago area back then were waaaayyyyy too short to accomplish such. We just floored the gas and forced our way into the unyielding and unwieldy mass of motorists. I had also been scored one incorrect move in the driving: I failed to signal when pulling away from the curb into the driving lane.

While Behind the Wheel had provided almost new (General Motors) vehicles, I suppose that our blue-collar family cars were always average – never new of course – those were beyond affordable, and probably unnecessary. I recall returning from a somewhat frequent Wisconsin weekend camping trip and somewhere along the route I was assigned driving duties. My father was a big beer drinker, and maybe he was still hangin’ from the incredible volume he and the other dads routinely consumed on such trips. No clue as to who might have been in the vehicle with me and him. It was pouring rain, in the dark, as we joined the very poorly illuminated and battle-damaged I290 in the several years old Buick Sport Wagon (a 1970 maybe) with the worn out shitty wipers on max – flapping away. I couldn’t see shit out of the windows or any of the lane lines – not even the outside of the right (where I was crawling at about 45mph) – NOTHING, and here was this asshole parent next to me barking to SPEED UP! Then he started fucking around with the HVAC controls (he was always twitchy and did this continuously) and fogged the mutherfukking windows. I was scared shitless. Notice my language now? He was a Dick… and was until he lost his memory of that wonderful, ingrained set of traits just a handful of years ago. I do not remember how I made it to our house from there – maybe twenty more miles. I do not remember ANYTHING of that night to follow (repressed trauma?). Awful… debatable if that hindered or hastened my ability to operate a vehicle in adverse conditions. Wifey would admit to me being quite skilled at such (swap drivers in an actual white-knuckle (hers) deluge); #1 Son once told his college pals “…of course they’ll be here, my Pop is driving (10” of fresh wet snow on the unplowed rural 2-lane approach roads).

Maybe slightly before that event with Pappy, I recall traveling with my Uncle Tom (“Baby” to my father, eight years his junior). He was a relatively unknown but highly skilled champion amateur road racer eventually to have a drive at Indy – yes, the big 500 (24H at Daytona too, I believe). He was, unfortunately, underfunded (nearly all from his father, the pompous root source of my fraternally horrendous parenting lineage) and unskilled at the gab for cash. A gift from the gods was to leave my father and join him and his calm wife venturing to the various races in the Midwest U.S. and a handful in Canada. Those production class then open wheeled racers were incredible to me as a young teenager – especially when they drove in the rain.

That is a borrowed InterWeb image from 1976 of him and James Hunt where he is smiling – probably because he had just thrashed the soon-to-be F1 Champion at the time. That dude in the background might be James’ handler, he has that look, no? Why do you think he won at the world-famous Circuit Trois-Rivières consecutive years, besting many internationally noteworthy drivers to Poll Position, including the erratic Hunt? Because that circuit is on city streets… and where did Mr. Klausler learn to drive? The streets of Chicagoland of course. Supposedly, he had once been testing the limits and purportedly wrapped his 1958 Corvette around a utility pole way back when (another gift from grampus). There is a scene in the movie Rush where the portrayed Niki Lauda attempts to band together the other F1 drivers to force cancellation of a race due to heavy rain. “It’s dangerous” says the actor. Hunt countering with something like “… then don’t drive…” with a smirk. I’m with the playboy on that one (if true); ALL F1 racing is dangerous, and you simply have two choices in such conditions: slow down (to your tolerance of risk, or skill level), or do not race… others may not share your fear. All this is to say that the only relative we guys thought was “cool” operated that Chevy Silverado towing an immense box trailer loaded with his car, parts, tires, fuel, tools and gear so effortlessly that I remember it to this day. You could not feel him apply the brakes – EVER – in that overloaded GM junk… even when he drove over a mound of staples (really) on the Canadian backroads causing three simultaneous flattening tires. He casually pulled over from 100kph onto the shoulder, inspected (“not too bad”) and motored on to a repair shop. Crever! Over a dozen plugs later, we were back on the road. By the way, he was a bit of a jerk too, at times – far less so than his older brother – but concealed for a more venomous assault. Ugh, some bad memories countering the good there – but he seemed to like us nephew boys. The local high-volume Honda dealership maintenance shop, and a private master mechanic both were amazed that I had decent life left on my brakes at 105,000 mostly city miles, including loaded with up to twelve-hundred pounds of mulch, logs or hikers and gear. I brake preparedly, smoothly, and consistently – might I say similar to that of my uncle?

Shortly after graduating high school, I acquired a car to commute to the local junior college. I knew very little about cars, but a buddy also attending the JC was reasonably intelligent, a gearhead, and with his assistance I learned much and repaired that first car extensively – mechanicals, not simple bodywork or “mods” of today’s twits. I spent nearly all my savings though and lacking any real money-making activity, or parental guidance, sold and bought progressively worse vehicles while attending school – such as it was. They were not junk, but very close. My siblings and friends all had similar domestically manufactured old heaps. Consider: no disk brakes (NEVER ABS), single rear-wheel drive (NEVER Traction Control), sometimes no power steering and most of the time marginally treaded thin tires. Single side-view mirror at best. Certainly never what would be called a performance vehicle. There was usually something not working properly (severely cracked windshields were common). Even my gearhead buddy’s car was junk outside – but mechanically sound. We learned to drive in those things. Did you ever see the movie Used Cars? Well, those rejects from Victory Auto Wreckers that Kurt Russell sold to the unsuspecting customer (high school) were exactly like the garbage we were driving. Road hazard if we would admit to it. We occasionally and purposely drove into each other, a little tap here and there. We also had to flat-tow these things back home for repair sometimes. We learned to drive while legally drunk – some performing better than others. Winter in Chicagoland, on the highway, in traffic, at speed… there was no work-from-home, or call-in-sick, travel was mandatory. The abominable unplowed and iced roads too; just crap – loaded with potholes, poor lighting and very little visual markings. Hindsight says very dangerous, but back then it was fukkit, lets roll! Never a consideration was made or uttered for safety.

In the Chicago periphery, Willow Springs actually, there was a well-known dirt racetrack: Santa Fe Speedway. AM Radio: “There’s only one speedway, it’s the track of clay. You ain’t seen nothing till you’ve been to Santa Fe SPEEEEEDWAAAAAAYYYY. Racing on a track of clay.” I first visited as a kid, with… Uncle Tom. Even as a kid I recognized the evil weed cooking everywhere; the usually calm Aunt Vicky was in shock. The crazy place hosted an all-comers Figure-Eight “race”. Some of the few rules for entry included: license from any state, functional seatbelts (lap only back then), no window glass (must have allowed the windshield else debris would have rained in), four mostly round wheels, and a clearly visible identifying number. Anyway, by the time my pals and I had burned through a few cars, two of the guys were moving up to some new, or at least markedly better ones than the usual fourth-hand jalopies. I mentioned these guys in other writings… Ricker had an old and beaten Pontiac Ventura and huge Cheffy a tiny Plymouth Arrow (manual trans I think) – they both signed on. A couple of days before the event, a group of us prepped the vehicles loosely to track requirements. The final step was the numbering… “6-Pack” & “12-Pack”, FUCK YEAH! Yes, we were brilliant. Upon the summer race-day evening, under the minimal lights, lined up out on the clay, the PA guy noted the unusual numbers immediately, and when he did the dozen of us drinking in the shaky splinter riddled stands screamed at the top of our lungs. He added “Uh oh, the beer boys have a fan base,” or something similar. We screamed even louder. The race was bullshit, the cars were virtual junk, top speeds maybe hit 25mph on the tiny “8”, but they did smash into each other. “YEAAHHHH” we screamed. Cheffy had pit-crewed for a half-assed flat-track driver once and thought he could seriously drive… fucker went exactly nowhere at The Fe. I think he was disabled by contact in just a few laps. Ricker’s piece of shit wasn’t much better. Great fun though.

One time, a bunch of us twenty-somethings were hopping from one local watering hole to another, well under the influence of the old demon already. This guy we hung with, gamed with and drank with was a really good driver. Skilled, we all knew it even back then. He had been penalized without a father, a whacky permissive mother and with a somewhat wealthy grandfather. He was piloting a 32’ Chris-Craft (Chicago and Michigan harbors) when twelve years old or so, started driving at thirteen or so (this is very young for suburban), had a decent car of his own at fifteen and was gifted consecutive new GM pickups for a while. He always wanted to race, but neither had a distinct muscle car slash hot rod nor the skills to build such. A driver, no more. A famous related quote of his goes: “I can’t get the performance I need out of this vehicle!” He was power-shifting a 2.5-ton dump truck at the time. So, unstated, there was a race to the target saloon. Jerry screamed his GMC Sierra tires away from the curb and crossed the poorly maintained rail grade with a distinct humph up and then down and then a hard left. I do not recall how or why, but he ended up in Reverse, perhaps originating from evasive moves on the other Saturday night drivers. There were three cars contesting at least. Both selected routes paralleled the BNSF (just BN back then) train tracks coming out of the big city. The competing cars with passengers on one side of the tracks could see Jerry on the other side continuing to drive in reverse yet his head faced opposite – he was mirror driving at speed, at night, in traffic – non-stop. Yeah, through stop signs (“just a suggestion” buddy Ed might say). If I remember correctly (doubtful), he won easily.

Gavin de Becker, is an investigator – of people. He is a player, a tool, an Asset, and a mouthpiece for the government (among others), it seems. However, he is also the author of a decent, somewhat repetitive, and obvious book titled The Gift of Fear and other Survival Signals. 400 pages to tell you to listen to your intuition – especially regarding human interaction and the signals we all emit. Early and accurate evaluation of your environment and the potential for harm your way. Horrible events are frequently described by alleged witnesses this way: “…it just happened out of the blue.” No says Gavin, and No says Dave. Read the signs, they are all around. On the road, there are huge powerful machines, pay attention for fucks sake. I am always looking three vehicles ahead in my lane at least two behind me. I ride the left edge of the lane to see more around the other vehicles – especially when drafting a large truck. My brakes, and the associated stopping distance is shorter than any truck larger than a pickup… better than most pickups (and cars) in what I drive. My reactions, and yours too, are much quicker than Joey pulling the 53’ garbage scow to the landfill, but you must know how to react and use your vehicle’s attributes to go where and when you direct it – keeping you alive. I keep track of the vehicles to the side lanes as well – especially those jockeying around. From the poseur in the Bentley blocking the left to the Silver Shadow cruising the right, I continually observe and plan evasive maneuvers – you do too, but maybe like de Becker says: you may be ignoring the tell-tale signals of danger. Fred G. Sanford is certainly going to move differently than Juan Valdez in his $75,000 Toyota Tundra pulling an overloaded 20’ double-axle cage trailer. Maybe it doesn’t matter to you? Maybe, as Wifey once said: “I DON’T KNOW THE MODELS OF ALL THOSE CARS!” after she had passed a State Trooper driving in the right lane, while going 92mph.  Hundreds of thousands of miles, endless commuting hours over decades… some of you too. You log the data automagically; re-learn to re-call it. I have heard this before (not from Wifey, she knows I’m fantastic): “Jesus H. Christ Dave, you take the fun out of everything.” Maybe so, maybe so… but I guarantee you that I am prepared for most anything on the road.

My first new car was a very nice agile Mazda MX-6 GT (turbocharged). It had very good ABS braking, tight steering and tuned firm suspension. I pushed that little black car to its limits. I made 135mph on I55 with Wifey as passenger (just a Date then). I once killed the engine while rolling reversed after a high-speed spin-out exiting I290… the gods smiled upon me, and I remained on the pavement. Just a brush with catastrophe to keep me attuned to the maximum lateral G-force attainable.

Not too long ago F1 was visiting the city streets of Baku in Azerbaijan. At one point Master Alonso just touched the 1000 denier outside sidewall banner with his right rear tyre where others had impacted, damaged and some crashed during practice and the race. “Oops” calmly over the team radio… he had found the limit – never touched it again. For nine years I commuted from the north side of Chicago over horrible streets, I90/94, I290, I88 and I355. The single most important achievement homeward bound was to make the City Limit on I290 before the inevitable afternoon klusterfukk hit. InterWeb traffic info availability was sparse back then, so I flipped on the AM Radio as soon as I mounted up. If I290 was not yet literally full and then entered, you simply went as fast as possible… my little Mazda pickup would only rarely get above 80mph and it was a relief to pass under the Austin Boulevard overpass to gain a little breathing room. Cars and trucks of all types routinely flew by – via the shoulders and ramp maneuvers. If I290 was NOT used immediately, then a few miles more of side-streets were then warranted. Awful, crawling, stops or lights at nearly every intersection… semi-ghetto conditions, people frequently in the street. Anyway, I once judged a tight fit next to a CTA bus infringing on my space (they simply do not care and rule the road). I floored it, and my estimate was correct: I fit – except for my side-view mirror which was then slammed against the side of the bus and shattered. Otto flipped me off as I passed by. I acquired and replaced the mirror myself. Just a half-inch or so, and I would have been clear. My “team radio” greeted me at home… Wifey was not pleased.

I was heading inbound one fine morning (always in darkness), in rain, and found myself badly hydroplaning in the little Mazda pickup once again. Of course there was traffic, but a bit lighter because of my normal early start to the workday. This was NOT a performance vehicle by any means – tiny 4-cylinder, no ABS and rear-drive. The local construction (forever in Chicagoland) had neglected to create temporary storm water management, and the new lake was covering a large expanse of the three-lane roadway into the actual work zone bordered by ten million striped horses pointing every which way. Sliding, sliding, feathered brakes practically useless, steering non-existent… miraculously I was able to enter the zone, out of the lake, through a gap, while hoping that there were no looming pavement pits (easily reaching 24”). Ahead, the zone ended at an overpass embankment – a reinforced concrete wall – without the plastic water jug “safety” barriers. Still slipping along at about 50mph, I had no choice but to immediately re-enter the roadway proper, through the steel and wooden barely lighted construction horses – no gaps. I scanned, picked a somewhat larger space and gingerly steered out – I hit one horse loudly, and it flew off to the side and out of sight. Just then I noticed the car close behind me, in a very similar situation and did NOT see it re-enter the roadway – and there was the concrete endpoint. I was a bit wired, but fine in a few minutes. Later, I checked for damage and found only a scratch on the bumper and a small ding in the hood lip – not bad at all – no repair. I also, later that evening and into the next day, scanned for a report of crash, and envisioned death or at least serious injury – nothing – strange. I told no one of that little learning experience. Hmmm, what exactly had I learned? Fucking road was invisibly shallowly flooded… I was only breezing along at about 60mph in the light rain. My experience had already been established… although tricky and a bit uncertain, I did get out of the construction and horses unhurt.

Although a strip-o model, that little pickup served me well for 13 years and 213,000 miles (both records for my family vehicles). #1 Son once slipped in the basement and lacerated his crown severely enough that I was concerned – he was not. I don’t think that the young boy even cried – bled like a mutha. Anyway, Wifey wrapped him up a bit and the two of us jumped in the truck, strapped in and blazed to the ER. I drove very fast, over a tall intersection curb, made a left-on-red in front of the opposing cars and their horns – and slid gracefully into the drive at the nearby hospital. Rather than being freaked out by the action, he was calmly listening to my ongoing explanation about the relative danger of the maneuvers as I performed them. He had a smile as we walked in to have him stitched up. A learning experience. Controlled and calculated risk.

On a family vacation once long ago traveling in our first of three Outbacks, we were blocked on an interstate highway in a situation that is sometimes derogatorily called a Polish Roadblock – where both parallel vehicles are blocking yet still mobile. Anyway, I barked out “Hellen Keller is obviously behind the wheel.” #1 Son laughed. As we eventually passed – necessarily in the right lane – I confirmed that assessment with “Yep, there she is, and José Feliciano is navigating.” I don’t think that #1 Son knew who that was at the time; check him out here on Daryl’s House.

I rarely use my horn – or high beams as they were known back when. Hmmm, maybe I should have honked at those horses? I honk in tunnels. I think that I picked that up from Pappy. It’s harmless and fun… try it, you’ll see that others join in.

Speed Limit “rules”, Stop signs and Traffic lights are obviously configured for maximum revenue generation, if The Man feels like selectively enforcing any of that. If they wanted serious income, they would enforce the safety rules of TRUCKS here in Shitcago. Incredible piles of junk barely rolling yet carrying tens of thousands of pounds of miscellaneous materials. Especially noteworthy are the intermodal haulers here. Even a novice could determine numerous violations: no mud flaps, broken lights… BALD TIRES – ever have a semi blow a tire in front of you? Whoa, the hardened rubber and steel corded shrapnel flies everywhere – in chunks weighing more than a pound. Serious damage and outright crashes to nearby vehicles is common. I abide by school zone limits, although if The Man wasn’t unpredictably around, I probably would not continue to drive at 10mph… my pal Helen would have enough time to jump hurdles out of the way with time left over to assist José. That is really slow. I find humorous that many oblivious drivers motoring well below the speed limit on a limited access four-lane thoroughfare, turn onto and blaze through a school zone with children and buses present while 10 or 20mph over the clearly marked limit – here where I live anyway. 55mph limit on a six-lane interstate at 4:30am… WHY? For revenue, that is all. Otherwise, dynamic signage would be employed, like many municipalities have these days. I ignore the final left-turn red light approaching my house about 75% of the time. It’s three actual minutes in duration. This light signal could easily have been made a flashing red (effectively a stop), or a flashing yellow (caution). By the way, these are all programmable around here. No Sir; some civil engineering flunky on the dole got the orders from a local bureaucrat who knows best for you and I and made it a hard red. Complaints have no effect; they actually invoked some bullshit EPA exhaust diatribe. “Ah buddy, letting me proceed [very carefully of course] would cause LESS idle fuel burning and exhaust.” Silencio.

I always signal. I took quite a bit of heat for this back when pre-Wifey and I took our first of many road trips. No reason supplied other than she apparently disliked habits of the sort. Speaking of Wifey, she likes Waze on her phone. I ask her to not mention the mapping or route finding, just the presence of The Man – which failed me once in rural New York. I have a very good sense of direction, always have the relevant paper maps (if necessary) and have previously studied the route (including the electronic version). I have stated to her “No” on several occasions when the dipshit app advised an obviously incorrect turn – only to finally vocalize “recalculating” or whatever in a minute (too late). Rodney: “I told my wife the truth. I told her I was seeing a psychiatrist. Then she told me the truth: that she was seeing a psychiatrist, two plumbers, and a bartender.”

Rodney Dangerfield had this bit about drivers. Went something like – every time you see a driver doing something idiotic you shoot the back of their car with a dart that says “asshole”. When the policja viewed ten of such darts, they would pull you over and give you a ticket for being an asshole. I run into these people every single day. I was hit from the side once on a double lefty turn. The lazy fucking lady had cut a linear 45 through the dashed curved line instead of an arc and drove right into me. At roadside review, the ¡Policía! approached. After friendly introductions, I said: “Did you happen to see her completely iced exterior and fogged interior windows?” Pause. “How about her knit [winter] hat pulled down below her eyebrows?” Pause. “Maybe you noticed her hair and glasses completely blocking her peripheral view?” Blank stare, then “Uhhh, there are no cameras at the intersection”, blah, blah blah. No ability to use common sense; maybe “unsafe operation of a motor vehicle,” or, as Rodney said: an asshole.

Drivers blocking the left lane – revisited. Just a reminder: my morning adventure begins in the dark at 4:30am. The super bright lights of modern vehicles might cause blindness and immediate panic, so alternatively I pass by close enough that my wake rocks the offending vehicle. I hope that, as a paying limo customer, it might become a question to that driver along the lines of: “Why are all these cars driving so close… passing so close?” Further, that the Tip to that driver may be lessened if the vehicle continually rocks and disrupts that same customer’s reading of the WSJ, or whatever. Limo drivers know they are doing this and I do not know where they ever got the idea that they are privileged to the left lane – at any speed. Conversely, my 4th-world blue-collar commuting pals likely have no clue about Keep Right Unless Passingor Slower Traffic Keep Right, not because of any language barrier, but because the entire licensing process is so badly corrupted in The Land of Lincoln that it’s a rubber-stamp at the SoS. Besides, everyone knows that Mr. Stovepipe spoke pig-latin.  Sheriff J. W. Pepper; Live and Let Die.

While passing an ancient truck barely crawling, in a super southern drawl, head out the window, with a mouth full of chaw spattering: “Did you ever think of gettin’ a driver’s license, boy?” He has some very funny lines in that movie. Actually, the script overall is funny – for a James Bond movie. There IS a safe spot, in case you were wondering, and it’s not 10mph under the limit in the left lane (which is dangerous), it’s called the Right Lane… or better still, the frontage road. If you’re scared, or untrained, or inexperienced, check it out… please. This would most definitely apply to Captain Stubing behind the wheel of that 911 Turbo S suffering some mid-life crisis like his bonus was only $1.1Mil instead of the usual $2 million – times are tough.

When I first started driving my new Ridgeline, I was completely satisfied… a joy to drive. Even on the irregular and unmaintained Chicago roads I could not tell the difference between 50mph and 100mph. Even with a full load, the performance was exemplary. I do keep it maintained like new. I do have decent tires. I always have clear lighting and CLEAN FUCKING WINDOWS. Maybe this contributes to my somewhat casual attitude towards driving faster than suggested by the ass-kissing do-gooders in Springfield, I’m not sure. All in all, most drivers simply do not know the performance attributes of the vehicle that they are operating – I do.

5 thoughts on “Your “crazy driver” is my premeditated risk

  1. Flashy cars are a sight to be seen. Many can not/do not drive them as designed.
    Love the driving stories you talked about. Chicago driving (like Atlanta) I try to avoid – but sometimes it’s necessary.
    Truth be told, I try to avoid the big city driving and prefer the wide open countryside.
    Still… sometines… the rush of the city drive happens, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a frequent passenger (Wifey, here) these driving manuevers and strategies with Dave are tension-filled and terrifying. He drives everywhere as if it were a NASCAR race. No such thing as a leisurely drive. Even when we aren’t in a hurry, Dave presses the pedal to the metal. However, whenever he drives, he generally always makes good time.


    1. I used to be an impatient driver. Recently driving up a nearby hill a car pulled out in front of me, and I had to slow to a stop to let him pass. No gestures, no honking of horn. Just let it pass. There was no danger and only minor inconvenience, TSTM.

      As I like to say, I am a pretty good driver … except when I’m not. We all get distracted and make mistakes. Why can’t we all just get along? When I was 15 I had just passed the driver’s test, but no license was yet issued. In my parents car I hit the highway hard, going 70 in a 45. I got pulled over by a motorcycle cop who issued a citation. On court appearance my license was suspended for 45 days. At the time I got the ticket the cop said “Kid, don’t drive like that. It scares the shit out of me.”

      That’s me at 15. Me at 73 is in the first paragraph.


    2. WOW! Way harsh.
      IN TRAFFIC I try to move… on our many vacations we drive fast on the highway as it is generally much more open… you too Mrs. 92. In the small towns that we like to visit… no way… just cruising through.
      Slight exaggeration there too from Wifey of 30 years. However, I did press “the pedal to the metal” once or twice – when necessary. For instance, when I taught #1 Son how to pass properly, and safely, on a tw0-laner.
      No mention of how [justifiably] terrified your passenger was that I mentioned above.


      1. Chicago to springfield isn’t a bad drive unless you vere off to Peoria. The potholes there will rip your tires off the axles. We have 100’s of billions to sendoverseas fora wargame but can’t fix the dam mooncraters on our roads.


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