I’ve driven country roads for almost 42 years. In my youth, I knew exactly how fast I could take every bend on the county road in the valley, and did so often in the wee hours of the morning. I sometimes drove almost that fast during the day on rare occasions. I began driving more carefully the evening that I topped a rise and nearly dropped into a group of little children walking the centerline on the far side. Only their quail-like flights to the ditches saved their lives.
I was driving the same ’66 mustang, when I learned just how little rain it takes to bring the oil to the surface of the highway. I was on my way to my high school graduation after a “heavy sprinkle,” when I took a bend too fast and started skidding. If I’d had the whole road, I could have pulled out of it. Unfortunately, a learning driver was coming out of town with his eyes glued to the pavement about thirty feet ahead of his daddy’s Caddy. He didn’t even see me, so he had no way to know that he might want stop before some idiot (me) slammed into him. So, I chose to hit the hill instead of him. It didn’t seem to move much, and I was lucky to escape with only a busted lip. I started driving a little slower.
Then the deer got so thick that it was almost dangerous just to drive at night. Soon, the deer got so thick that it seemed dangerous to drive even through the day. Worst of all, city-slickers started moving into the countryside in my area. They drive like they’re on a dry four-lane, even in the rain and the snow. Plus they drive in the middle of the road, or even completely on the wrong side in bends. During the winter, the tow trucks get a lot of business from them. I started driving a little slower.
Probably a dozen people have died on just that one road over the last 30 years, and I’m no longer in a hurry most days, and it shows in my driving. The speed limit on our crooked ridge-road is only 25mph, though it could easily be 30 most places. At the intersection with the main county road, the road to the left, toward town, is posted at 35, the one to the right is posted at 45. I usually do about five miles under the speed limit either direction.
A month ago, I followed the road to the right until it intersected with the county’s main two-lane north/south state highway. The speed limit on it is 55, but if you blend with rush-hour traffic, you’ll find yourself doing 65. It was well AFTER rush hour and I drove at 45-50 mph about two miles up the road to another county road and turned left. A couple vehicles had followed me for the last half-mile, and one turned off behind us. Soon, he passed on a double yellow line while laying on his horn, nearly clipped my bumper pulling back into the lane, got 50 feet ahead of us and jammed on the brakes. He then proceeded to lurch forward and jam on his brakes several times. Eventually he drove on and pulled off on a side road and kept moving.
I made the mistake of stopping a moment to see if he went on to some house on the lane, so, when he started to turn around, he saw me and jumped out of his vehicle. He looked to be about six-four and built lean but muscular. He was a good hundred yards away, but walking my direction waving his arms and cursing, so I drove on. Five minutes later, I saw him in my rear-view mirror, as he came flying around the Cadillac that had just arrived at a more leisurely pace. He started a repeat of his earlier stopping and starting, only leaving when he apparently noticed my wife talking to the folks at 911, and the woman behind us taking pictures of him with her cell phone.
After some thought, I decided to try to get my pistol permit. Like my neighbor said about himself, I’m getting too slow to win a fight and too old to take an _ss-kicking. I took the day-long course from an acquaintance of mine last Saturday and took the certificate and a hundred dollars to the sheriff’s office Monday, along with a completed application that I’d down-loaded. I was told it might take 2-3 weeks to hear from them.
Yesterday, we were taking a drive on another crooked country road when I accumulated three cars behind me. I pulled off at the first decent spot to let them around, when a guy with his business name on his truck door stopped just long enough to give me a cussing. Today my permit showed up in the mail. I’ll have to check the law concerning vehicles and carry permits, but I may be armed if I’m on the road tomorrow. I’ll have to be very careful of legalities, but if someone tries dragging me out of my truck, at least I’ll have something to whack him on the nose with! © 2013-