Sunday, January 30, 2011

His Story, My Edit

One of the biggest stories in the news today is the weather. No matter where you live, something notable or unusual has happened lately.

Here in New England, snow (in the winter) is nothing to speak of. Whether you're in the more temperate bands along the coastline or farther inland, in higher elevations, snow happens. We cope. That's about all we can do. We buy vehicles that can shift into 4-wheel drive at a moment's notice. We put tires on our cars with deep treads, studs, and even chains for better traction. Our weatherpeople know better than to sensationalize an upcoming storm unless they KNOW for SURE what's going to happen, how much precipitation we can expect, and what the timeline is. Administrators cancel school, and they even have calling systems that will alert every single parent in a school district in five minutes.

Last week, we experienced an unfortunate combination of weather circumstances that truly made travel, no matter what you were driving or how you were driving it, dangerous. It was below 10 degrees outside; it started snowing that powdery, sticky snow that was impervious to any treatment other than physically plowing it off the road. Of course, this all happened during rush hour, and I refused to drive on the highways under these circumstances. I made a one hour trip to work (20 miles between two "major" cities) on the regional bypass road. It was a white-knuckled journey, but, as long as I drove slowly and no one else did anything stupid (a tall order at times), I knew I would make it there safely.

I turned on the news when I returned home that evening. The top story was the morning commute--38 accidents were reported on major interstate roads, and the trip from Manchester, NH to Boston, MA had increased from 90 minutes to four hours at one point. Television crews from the local news station managed to get out to the site of one of these accidents to speak with the victim.

Here's the story he told the reporters:

"I was driving on (insert main in-town one-lane road name here) on my way to a job interview. I felt that I was getting too close to the car in front of me. I know they tell you not to hit the brakes hard, but I did. The car veered into a snowbank and flipped over. I'm Ok, though."

Here's what we know really happened:

"I left for that stupid job interview at a time I figured would get me there 15 minutes early. Once I hit the road, I realized how long it was going to take. If I were late, even in these driving conditions, I may not get that job. I started on my way, watching the clock on my dashboard like a hawk. I knew it would be tough with the front-wheel-drive only sedan and those cheap tires, but hey, I live here--this is what we deal with. First couple of turns resulted in classic car fishtailing--whew! Then, I got on the main stretch of road. I was going along just fine until I wound up behind one of those slow people. I mean, come on! I had somewhere to go! How dare this guy drive the recommended 30 miles-and-hour speed limit! I tailgated him hard at first--yeah, maybe that will make him think about pulling over. such luck. I backed off a little, but I was still frustrated. I looked at that clock again--10 minutes! When I looked up again, the guy in front of me was slowing down. I hit the brakes hard to avoid a rear-end job that would cost me....and I flipped my car. I got off easy--more than the prime asshole I am deserved."

Listen, guy, you don't ever have to hit the brakes hard unless you're either not paying attention, you're tailgating someone, or both. And, if you do have to hit them like that under those conditions, you must have really been incredibly far up the ass of the guy in front of you to actually FLIP YOUR CAR.

Did I buy this guy's sob story? No friggin' way. My only hope is that perhaps this gave one guy pause for thought whenever he decides to act like a jackass on the road again, no matter what the conditions are.