Not Roadkilled

Father’s Day is a lot better this year than in years past. I ain’t one any more, and I ain’t got one any more, so it’s a good day to take Amethyst to a bigger town to do some shopping so we can pretend for a little while that we’re middle class. So that’s what we did.

I’m not even done reworking the thing yet but the old truck takes to the mountain highways like it’s built for them. I don’t really care to sport it up these days — going fast means catching up to people, and I’d rather just never see another vehicle at all so I set the cruise dead-on the speed limit and just hope no one’s going enough faster behind or slower ahead that I have to see them.

We saw a cow elk where one doesn’t ordinarily see elk this time of year. She looked like she was just having fun almost playing in traffic. She crossed ahead of us from left to right, stopped, turned, and headed back to the pavement — that’ll get the voices in your head to talking. Mostly screaming “oh shit!” or some similar thing. But she stopped, looked our way, and turned away from the pavement again. After we passed, she turned back and crossed the highway in the direction from which she’d come, and I hoped she’d continue having good sense enough to not step in front of cars.

Earlier in the week at just about the same spot I encountered a tourist with some kind of… I dunno. I really have no insight into what might make someone do what this soccer mom did. It all started when, just on the outskirts of Dinkytown where the speed limit increases to 65 miles per hour, I saw what looked suspiciously like a Ferrari in my rear view mirror. One does not often see a Ferrari in Dinkytown, and when it drew nearer I could see that it was in fact a 488 GTB. I fully expected that it would blow by me like I was roadkill, but instead it went by at just a few miles per hour over the speed limit, opened up a nice gap, and then fell back to exactly the speed limit, same as me, for a nice cruise. Hmmm. Then I saw the Lexus about three-quarters of a mile behind me. It made three consecutive dangerous passes in very short order, and I knew then what the Ferrari driver was getting away from. My estimate put the Lexus at my back bumper at just about the start of the miles-long passing lane ahead, and I was in way too good a mood to allow random tourists to screw it up so I just went back to enjoying my happy day.

The only thing moms passed for the next twenty miles or so was a series of very safe opportunities to either pass me or at least stop tailgating me. I just left the cruise control set to the speed limit and pretended that it was rational to trust her not to rear end me so there was no real reason to care what she did.

When moms finally decided that it was time to pass, it quickly became clear that there was just no way she could complete a passing maneuver before the oncoming big rigs arrived. The rigs that run the secondary highways in the Rockies are pretty much all sporting some seriously intimidating bumpers. This isn’t the only part of the world where they’re used, of course, but they’re not super common, either, so: If you’ve not seen the things, imagine you’re going to spend ten or twelve or however many hours those guys run, night and day, winter and summer, for years, driving on 65 mile per hour mountain highways where it’s absolutely certain that you’re going to hit mule deer, almost as certain that you’re going to hit elk, and possible that you’ll hit a moose, horse, or Angus bull. Imagine the front you’d want on that truck. That’s what they’ve got. You notice ’em when they’re coming at you on the highway.

So it seemed odd when moms over on the exciting side of the line got her front bumper up even with my back bumper instead of dropping back in behind as someone who loves life would. In the short time I had to think about it, I concluded that there was something far more wrong with moms than just driving an underpowered car. A series of unsafe passes in rapid succession followed by miles of tailgating despite safe passing opportunities, now this suicidal bullshit? This chick’s fucked up. Not at all trustworthy.

That’s just a rotten thing to do to a guy like me. I’m just living the part of my life that the whole rotten rest of it was about, and I’m really comfortable in my groove. To get you a little closer to the moment: Imagine a reclusive middle-aged hippie, a renegade from the corporate high tech world who’s escaped to a saner existence in a dusty, dinky, backward little town on the Western Slope of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, riding along in his pickup truck on a beautiful June afternoon, making a dope run to ski town. Now if that’s not one of the happiest guys on Earth, there’s just no happiness on Earth any more. Now impose some kind of suicidally manic soccer mom tourist in a Lexus, and a string of semis closing at around 130 miles per hour. That shit just almost blew my happy mood.

As the front bumper of the Lexus was drawing even with my seat, moms started crowding me. Hmmm… could’ve braked and fallen in behind, but accelerated and now crowding. I know this chick. I left the cruise control engaged and moved deliberately rather than rapidly onto the narrow shoulder, which is far too narrow to get the entire width of my truck outside the fog line. Moms, though, got a space in which to survive but not anything that looked like an excuse to whip her shitty little car into an uncontrolled skid. She finally got the maneuver done and all of her wheels on the sane side of the excitement line at almost the back of the third truck. It must have been an exciting ride for her.

Moms was in sight for most of the sixty miles or so to my turn toward the marijuana store. She didn’t pass anyone else despite having numerous opportunities to do so both safely and not. She tailgated whatever was in front of her, but that’s just normal for tourists anyway and they’ll bunch up six or eight or even twenty to a pack to tailgate each other. Eh, if they’re happy that way I’ll just set a good example by following at a reasonable distance and we’ll all be happy ignoring one another as best we can.

I managed to keep my happy mood all the way to the pot shop and back home again, which was pretty nice. In fact, I got a grin when moms got aggressive and I saw how I could work it to save everyone’s ass. The grin got a little bigger when I realized that I was giving no fucks about moms, too, it being the first real world life or death situation I’d encountered since deciding that it was not in my best interest to give fucks about people so stupid that they might get me killed. A little personal triumph like that seemed a good thing to be happy about. And following it up with a successful outcome like that was pretty nice, too.

The marijuana from the store being such very good marijuana, I’m wondering just now if Miss Elk wasn’t out there saying to herself, “now, I’m sure this is the spot where they told me the humans go to roadkill themselves…”

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