It must be payback. Karma, hubris, or both. For more than 30 years, I drove a succession of fully loaded convertibles with Steve McQueen in my brain. Once, I was racing to a story in the dead of night when a State Trooper pulled me over. He asked the traditional question. He smiled when I told him I was heading to a fire. After being cautioned to drive responsibly, I sped on to the scene. Steve McQueen was with me.

Nothing fazed me. Not Boston crazies or New York cabbies. Oh, hubris!

My convertible days are behind me. Thanks to retirement, an income adjusted to social security, “wonderful” pensions and too many tickets from my Steve McQueen days, I drive like a normal guy, more or less. You’d think I’d paid my dues, atoned for my sins.

Not hardly, Pilgrim. I’ll admit I still drive too fast, even if I’m doing the speed limit. That’s because I wasn’t born in the Valley and I don’t have Valley in my blood, so to speak. You see, in the Valley, driving is a leisurely business. Very leisurely. Twenty miles an hour is fast for a lot of our local people and not only in school areas. We are talking normal stretches of road with no special considerations or construction.

I’m convinced there’s a legion of slow drivers waiting for me to pull out onto the street. I’ve been targeted. Wherever I go, they are waiting. It’s particularly frustrating when I’m heading to an appointment. These days, it’s usually a doctor appointment for my wife or me. We usually allow extra time for possible traffic jams, construction, weather delays, and accidents.

The X-Factor is the slow driver.

They usually appear just as we are pushing up to the speed limit and think we’ll be able to make reasonably good time. We’ll get to our destination and have time to relax. I’m beginning to think about playing some music for the drive.

That’s when they show up. In the blink of an eye, they appear. The dreaded slow drivers. A whole conga line of slow drivers. No way to maneuver around them because our local roads are two lanes. One in each direction and narrow to boot. I can feel the anger and frustration beginning to boil up inside me.

If I’m driving alone, I allow the profanities full volume. If my wife is with me, I mumble, tighten my wrists and think evil, vile things. The slow drivers sense this and slow down even more. It is torture. What would Steve McQueen do?

Photo credit: RolexMagazine.com
Photo credit: RolexMagazine.com

Sanity and common sense kick in only because I know we can’t afford accidents with me as the culprit. That makes it more infuriating. They go even slower sensing my plight. Could it be worse? Never ask that question because the answer is always yes!

It gets personal when I realize nature is calling. Home isn’t far but it could be an embarrassment if I don’t get there in time. The drivers go even slower. I whisper a prayer and ask forgiveness for my wild days on the road. I turn onto the road home. I can do this. I can make it. Traffic slows to a halt.

Gritting my teeth, I see two cars ahead of me. They are texting. Not old but rather part of the legion of slow drivers targeting me. All seems lost as I swing and sway to delay disaster. Traffic begins to move again. Slowly.

Minutes that seem like hours go by until I reach home. I pull down our long driveway. I race into the house with personal shame just narrowly averted. I calm down before returning to the car to collect my things. I look up at the street. There’s no traffic. The slow drivers have vanished. Is it a conspiracy?

What would Steve McQueen have done?

Categories: #BlackstoneRiver, #GarryArmstrong, #Photography, Anecdote, Cars and Trucks, Humor, Personal, Roads, Traffic

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19 replies

  1. If you live in the country, you usually encounter these people, the old ones who only drive once a week to the shops or doctor, ones who wear hats seem to be the worst for some reason. Then there are the ones on the phone, a newer phenomenon. Tourists looking for a place to stop and admire the view or because they are searching for something. Other tourists with caravans or Winnebago’s who never pull over and let you by. When I lived in the Huon Valley we also had the farmers, especially at apple harvesting time when you might encounter a tractor pulling a trailer full of apple crates. Those guys did at least pull over when they could but Tasmanian roads are narrow and twisty too. If we’re really unlucky it will be a low loader with a massive piece of road moving equipment, a giant metal water tank or even a house on the move.
    I don’t really mind if we have to go slowly, except for the time we were stuck behind a smelly fish truck for some time. What does worry me is that people behind us get impatient and try to overtake us and two or three vehicles in front of us. That always scares me. What if they don’t make it and have an accident? I don’t want to be part of somebody else’s accident.

    Liked by 1 person

    • With trucks, I worry about insecure loads. I had a friend in college killed by a plate glass sheet falling off the back of a truck. Open trucks full of logs or those big round cement things they use to configure drains and sewers — one loose tie-down and those things ROLL. And in a little car like this one? They can roll right over you.

      Otherwise, the problem is no matter HOW much time we leave so we’ll get to the appointment on time, if drivers are slow enough or bad enough, traffic stops. These days, it’s almost always distracted drivers. Even when phones are in holders (only handheld phones are illegal), they still aren’t paying attention to driving. They wander all over the road and you have to stay very far back because you just know they are going to cause an accident. THEY get away scot-free and everyone else gets crunched.

      Where are the cops and their ticket books when you really NEED them?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We are all works in progress, fast or slow. Steve m included

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I relate.

    Most of the time I’m out there Rose is driving. (Driving me crazy?)
    Spiritually she never seems to understand how life things work. God doesn’t ‘miss a beat’ – he seizes and employs every opportunity to teach us something. Though we are not usually willing students. Mostly never.
    And I SWEAR (a lot) things happen to Rose when she drives that NEVER happen to me. She is tested at every opportunity and never seems to see that what’s happening to her is not accidental. (Though it could easily result in a so-called ‘Accident’ – there are NO SUCH THINGS.) The concept of ‘Accidents’ has often permitted me to avoid the inconvenient truth: that it’s really always my fault. Even when I can blame it on somebody else it’s still my fault. Something in my attitude and consciousness (lack thereof) created/manifested this situation. Damn.
    So, for me, the real issue is: Did I learn anything? Or are these situations just going to keep on occurring? Until I do learn something (It usually takes a while before I catch on) it ain’t funny. Or fun.
    Then I’m on to the next lesson.

    Forgive my lecture Garry … I just had to get this off my chest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I assume everything is my fault. It saves me a lot of brooding, finger-pointing, and bafflement over who did it. On some level, it’s my fault either because I actually did, failed to prevent it from being done, or am bothered by something that shouldn’t matter. It doesn’t make me stop grinding my teeth, but at least I can focus my energy on fixing whatever needs fixing and not push me into obsessiveness.

      Liked by 1 person

    • No worries. The lecture is apt and duly noted here. But Steve? I think he always had that ‘Bullit’ driving mode.


  4. Bite the Bullitt, Garry. 😉 There is no getting around those slow drivers. Seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I often think there are drones up there watching for us. The moment we hit the road, they pull out of side streets — and slow down. You can’t pass anyone. The roads are too narrow, too twisty, and often banked the wrong way. So you either take a lot of deep breaths and deal with it, or get yourself all worked up over something you can’t fix. Garry’s never entirely learned to just CALM DOWN. I, on the other hand, raised children.

      Liked by 1 person

      • This is funny, Marilyn. My husband always says he can’t wait until I get older and REALLY lose my patience. How much older does he want because patience with drivers like that is long gone!

        Liked by 1 person

        • They are maddening. It’s one thing if they are old, but usually, they are just distracted. Phone calls (illegal, but it doesn’t stop anyone), fussing with the music or radio, yelling at the kids. The one thing they are NOT doing is watching the road!


    • “Bite the ‘Bullit'”? Well done, Lois! See you around the neck Le Mans curve.

      Liked by 1 person

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