Thursday, January 20, 2005

Smoky & the Bandit

I nearly took one up the ass today. I usually take the Metro into town whenever I meet with clients down there, but this time I decided to drive since I was only meeting with one client and that was for less than an hour.

The left hand lane on the interstate is for passing. People should not be in that lane unless they are passing. Why this simple concept blows right over the heads of some ignoramuses I’ll never know. It’s true that when I get on the entrance ramp I swing all the way across into the left lane as quickly as I can. And it’s also true that once I’m there I do not leave the left hand lane unless I’m ready to swing back across all four lanes and suddenly exit. But in my defense, I am always passing everyone else. Why should I bounce in and out of the left lane when there is nobody going faster than me?

Under normal driving conditions, this philosophy works fine for me as it has for 14 years. I’ve learned to expect the occasional grandpa, the occasional mascara chic, the occasional cell phone talker. But what I don’t expect to find is a goddamn city street sweeper weighing in around 6 tons fucking PARKED in the left hand lane of the interstate.

Keep in mind this next part all happened within a matter of 3 seconds:

I was barreling down the interstate doing no less than 80 mph when I saw the vehicle two cars in front of me suddenly twist in desperation and shoot to the right. The van directly in front of me hit his brakes, hard, causing me to do the same. All the shit in my front seat smacked the dash and scattered all over the floorboards. I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw two rigs. One directly behind me, one right beside that one in the lane to my right.

I instinctively wanted to cut left and risk flattening all four tires on the shoulder, but lo and behold another motherfucking behemoth street sweeper was also PARKED on the shoulder beside the one PARKED in the left hand lane of the interstate. The van in front of me had its ass so high in the air as he rode his brake I contemplated just drilling him from behind and hoping it hurt less than hitting the street sweeper. But at the last split second, literally, I glanced back into my rearview mirror, saw that the rig behind me was NOT going to stop in time and made the decision to swerve to the right instead, in front of the second rig that hadn’t bothered to take his foot off the gas at all.

I cut the wheel, skimming past the rear bumper of the van, got in front of the second rig and stomped that damn gas pedal so hard I heard it clink against the floorboard. That ole GMC fucking screamed while I held it wide open, waiting precious pants-pissing moments before it finally woke up, dropped its ass to the ground and took off before the rig could ram me from behind. A shit storm of smoking rubber ensued as the first rig finally saw the motionless street sweepers. The backend jackknifed to the right, swinging across the other lanes and just missing the second rig behind me.

Cars went everywhere with no regard to painted stripes. Screeching and squealing this way and that and yet not one damn crunch or shatter occurred. Within seconds it all happened and ended and nobody was injured. My body had dumped a gallon of adrenaline into my bloodstream and I realized the pressure of holding down the gas pedal was causing my leg to shake uncontrollably. My hands vibrated and my whole body felt immensely exhausted. I got off the gas, but every time I tried to apply pressure to the pedal my leg began shaking so bad I had to let up. It took me 30 minutes to coast that last 12 miles.