Zalaznick: Go, go motorized igloo
Vail CO, Colorado
I call it the “Highway 6 Sandwich.”
The road’s snowpacked. Visibility’s low. The car in front of you is going 19 m.p.h. And braking every dozen feet. For what? For the herds of invisible elk leaping across the road.
So not only is he going 30 m.p.h. under the speed limit, and 50 m.p.h. slower than traffic, but he may slam on his brakes ” or simply just fall out of his car ” at any minute.
So it would seem safe to stay back. But perhaps not. Because you can practically feel the bumper of the car behind you on the back of your neck. You can see the guy weaving into the oncoming lane, as if he would pass you.
The guy ” aside from being on his cell phone ” is obviously in rush to a) bring a badly needed kidney to a dying little boy at the hospital b) meet the Israelis and Palestinians at the Avon Starbucks to deliver to them his fool-proof peace plan or c) get to the ski shop where his buddy promised him a sweet deal on the new Salomon twin tips.
So the guy behind you has taken your life in his hand, and some confused second-home owner from Florida pulls out of Arrowhead yakking on her cell phone and just shoves her Hummer into a Yugo-sized space in the line of traffic.
That maneuver forces the hardy, tailgating local, who’s also driving with his ski goggles on, who believes his beat-up Toyota pickup can handle any amount of snow at any speed ” be it in a roundabout, Dowd Junction or Mt. McKinley ” swerves into the turning lane to pass her as a couple of passengers who just got off the ECO bus ice skate across the highway toward their drywalling jobs in the nearby mansions.
The local makes that move when, of course, none of the seven sheriff’s cruisers you’ll pass between Riverwalk and Wal-Mart happen to be passing by.
Highway 6 is hardly Storrow Drive ” that most infamous expressway in that most infamous of driving towns, Boston. But a short commute from Edwards to Dowd Junction can be as maddening as trying to cross four-lanes of traffic ” of Bostonians traveling at light-speed ” to catch the exit that leads to Fenway Park.
Like, how come the guy who’s only going 2 m.p.h. on Highway 6 brushed no more snow off his car than a peephole in the windshield. Is he trying to find out what driving a motorized igloo would be like?
Like how come the construction project has messed up the street to the point where you practically have to launch an Evel Keneival-style jump to clear the cones, barricades and flaggers?
Like why isn’t there a separate lane for backhoes and cement trucks going 3 m.p.h.? Y’know, those contraptions that are half in the lane just daring you to pass even though there’s a garbage truck headed toward you in the opposite lane?
Then there’s those quiet days, when you’re about the only car on the highway. You’re rolling along at about 50 m.p.h. and you spot a sedan nudging out of a side street way down the road. He jerks forward, he’s thinking about turning into your lane. He stops. Inches forward. Stops. Inches forward. Stops.
You’re coming up on the side. There’s not a car behind you for hundreds of yards. It’s smooth sailing and the guy pulls out. Right in front of you. You don’t quite slam on the brakes, but if you were paying as little attention as he was, you would have blasted him through the bus stop.
So he’s a jerk who thinks his little cross-town trip is so important ” so vital to the continued health of mankind as we know it ” it’s worth the risk of causing me to rollover 17 times into the Eagle River to avoid him.
But not to worry, at least he’s probably one of those reckless drivers, so he’ll probably squeal the tires and get his little piece of junk up to 90 or so. It will be smooth sailing.
But it’s the 19-m.p.h. guy!
He cut me off just so he could race a glacier to Leadville. He’s wasting my time. He’s taking minutes from my life that I’ll never get back because I have to a) help coordinate the emergency response to the smallpox outbreak in the Rocky Mountains b) divert the killer asteroid that’s hurtling toward Eagle-Vail or c) get to work to write an editorial about how annoying driving down Highway 6 can be.
Assistant Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 748-2926, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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