My Friend, Mountain
The weather is all the rage these days, with historically cold temperatures and snow, and all that accompanies this nature-sent circus event. You have only to drive on any public street/highway to gain entry into The Big Tent. You’ll be reminded you’re there constantly by the antics of your fellow travelers. Think of it as the main stage in a Barnum and Bailey production.
The two predominant “acts” we see so regularly that it would seem that reruns are already in style, consist of speed-sters and impede-sters. There are those who [remarkably] drive so fast they obviously feel impervious to icy road conditions, with or without four-or all-wheel drive. And there are those who not only agonize over their own safety by traveling at a crawl, but agonize over your safety and mine, because they will not pull over.
You’ve heard of David versus Goliath? Think manic road rage meets grandpas out large. Bubba is in his monster pickup with tires that are almost as high as the roofline of Grandpa Gus’s Oldsmobile. Gus is already terrified to be driving in the first place, and is only doing so because he’s more terrified of Grandma Maudie’s driving. She’s too inexperienced to even realize she should be seriously frightened.
So Gus is dashing along at twenty-five MPH and feeling pretty good about it, when the sun is blotted out behind him by a mud-spattered monstrosity that Gus at first mistakes for a Sherman tank. His flashbacks to WWII cause him to temporarily close his eyes. The act of closing his eyes freaks Maudie out so badly, she grabs the wheel and almost solves Bubba’s problem for him, the Olds fishtailing crazily for a full five seconds.
Fortunately for them both, Gus’s right leg cramps up, and in straightening it out spasmodically, has applied enough pressure to the accelerator to bring the Olds nicely back into a smooth rhythm. Gus gets a kink in his neck from the extreme angle he has attained, grinning savagely at Maudie, as if to say, “Got us out that mess, Missy.” In the rear-view mirror, the tank looms again. Time passes. Gus again glances over at Maudie, triumphantly.
As his eyes shift front again, it is just in time for Gus to witness a Winebago sliding neatly across all lanes, plowing through the snow, into his lane, coming head-on for his Cutlass. No time to think-just to react. Gus does the worst possible thing and slams on the brake. In slow motion, the Olds does a complete 360, ending up facing the correct direction when the spin has stopped, only shifted into the center lane, which is no-man’s land. The Olds sails past the motorhome in a blur, as Gus shakily nurses it back into the correct lane.
He’s too wiped out to gloat at Maudie. Behind him he can see that Bubba has ended up against the righthand bank, after plowing a path a block long. Bubba, please meet my friend, Mountain.
I try to avoid driving in treacherous conditions, but if I’m forced to, I attempt to reach a happy medium between Gus and Bubba. I keep distance between me and the guy in front of me, and I pull over for the bullies of the road world. A bully is going to get his way and there’s nothing I can-or want-to do to stop him. He’ll meet my friend Mountain some day, and find that there are bigger bullies on the block than he.