I heard it again today! I heard automotive-apathy, by-way-blocking, car-coma, distracted-driver, errant-egotism! I heard the sounds of stunned, thoughtless, I-don’t-know what’s-going-on, and, if I did, I-don’t give-a-damn, drivers. I heard a fire-truck, trying to get to an emergency. What I didn’t hear, was that truck succeeding. I hear the sounds of failure all too often.
My property backs onto a major, local, four-lane road. The street is about a hundred feet back and, when it went in, there was a six-foot high sound-berm installed, to keep the worst of the traffic noise out of my house. Works pretty good, too, but we can still hear what’s going on. Three blocks down the road, we have a fire sub-station, complete with ambulance bay. If there’s an accident, or a fire, often, these vehicles race up the street behind my house. The fire truck has a two-part, get-out-of-the-way noise system. There is the high-pitched siren, and, when that doesn’t work, there is a lower-pitched WHOOP, WHOOP.
That’s what I heard. I heard the siren, almost from leaving the station, coming my way. And then, WHOOP, WHOOP, pull over! A hundred yards and WHOOP, WHOOP, get out of the way, and another hundred yards, and another WHOOP, WHOOP. Put the damned cell-phone down and pay attention to what’s going on around you. It is disheartening to look out my back bedroom window to watch a fire truck and/or an ambulance going by, and see two pieces of used butt-wipe matching exact speeds of forty/KmH, in a sixty zone, blocking an emergency vehicle. I needed that ambulance the day I dropped my motorcycle. My case was not time-sensitive but, would you like to be the one to go home and say, “I killed a guy today because I was too dumb and distracted to pull over”? Of course, drivers who create havoc like that are too stunned to realize what they’ve done, and return to the roads to commit more motorized mayhem tomorrow.
I saw yet another car the other day, with a bumper-sticker which read, “I may be slow, but I’m ahead of you”. And you’re proud of that??? Of course we’re all behind you. You’re creeping along like you’re on your way to a tax audit, and the rest of us can’t get past. Did you know that even on four-lane city streets, the left lane is the fast lane? If you ain’t goin’ fast, find a curb lane!
I have noticed that the numbers of freeway shootings in LA have dropped off significantly, since BrainRants has been posted to Kansas. Pure coincidence? I think not! I feel that we should be allowed to carry paint-ball guns in our cars. Some asshat pulls something stupid like this, lean out the window and put about three electric purple splats across his stern. When the cops can’t read his plate for paint, he gets pulled in for license re-examination. A guy in my neighborhood has a little red car with sick-frog green paint across the hood, and then along one side. It’s difficult to decide if this is supposed to be some sort of artistic statement, or somebody’s vandal revenge.
A paint-baller I worked with gave me an even better idea. Freeze the paint-balls. They’re hard as marbles. They’re out of the way in the house, and you won’t step or sit on one and make a mess. A line of dents might convince the BMW driver to signal, before he cuts you off. My guy lived on the third floor, with a balcony that overlooked his parking spot. One summer evening he looked out and saw a couple of kids messing with his car, trying to break in. He loaded up the gun with the frozen pellets and started sniping. Got one in the ass of the pants and on a bare bicep. The other one took a marble to the hand. No-one has seen them in the parking lot since.
A woman I worked with had a 17 year-old daughter with an 18 year-old boyfriend. He lived in a different part of town, and often came over on Sunday afternoons. One day he came in, literally shaking, and collapsed into a chair. Instead of taking main roads, in my strangely laid-out city, he saved time by cutting through a commercial section, on a street with a level train crossing. It had bells and flashing lights, but no barricade arms. With the stereo jacked up almost high enough to blow the windows out, he skated across the tracks. He told her that he had looked in the mirror, but had seen no-one following him. Just as he cleared the tracks he noticed something behind him. “Where did that guy come from, so fast?” he thought, and almost fainted when he saw the side of a train, whipping past, six inches from his back bumper. Missed the red flashing lights, missed the bells, missed the headlight of the oncoming train and missed the train horn. Almost missed the drive home, too!
Ted, from SightsandBytes, wants an old-fashioned locomotive cow-catcher. My son says, if he ever wins a lottery, he’s going to buy a brute-ute and have something similar made in chrome-moly tubing. Don’t move over….Flurp, you’re in the ditch, or on the boulevard, wondering Wha’Happun? The sheep will never improve because they’re not smart enough to know they need improvement. The rest of you, pay attention out there. I don’t want to lose some of the best writers and nicest people I’ve ever met.