This pandemic quarantine business has taken a toll on man and beast alike it seems. One specific area of disdain is the open highway.
A state patrolman interviewed on a Jackson television station’s nightly news last week said people were driving on the highways and byways of this state like crazy. He said it is common for folks to be traveling well over 100 miles per hour and that it was his opinion that they thought they wouldn’t be pulled over due to the pandemic. He claims they are incorrect in that assumption.
It does “seem” that there is less presence of state troopers on the roadways, but that could be due to the fact that most of us are not traveling as much as we used to. Or, we’re not supposed to be anyway!
From personal experience, however, I’ll have to agree with the trooper.
Two weeks ago I was buzzing up Highway 481, cruise control on 60, when a lady in a white van pulled right out in front of me and I was certain some metal to metal action was about to occur. It was raining and I hit the brakes and laid down on the horn. The anti-lock mechanism took over the braking and I slid a bit and she, like a deer in headlights, froze and stopped caddy cornered across the whole highway.
At that point I was certain there would be green paint on her white paint and a whole lot of crumpling in between. My eyes quickly scanned the roadside for an escape route and there was what looked like a too-tight squeeze between a road sign and a couple of mailboxes, but my mind said any, or all, of those would be the better option than t-boning that van.
So I yanked the steering wheel to the right just in the nick of time and to my own surprise barely missed all the obstacles and found myself bouncing through a fairly flat ditch while still trying to apply the breaks and also avoid going into a spin. Two driveway jumps later I bounced back onto the highway in front of the van, gave the lady a evil glance, and continued on my way. She passed me a little while later.
Considering that I was driving a 2003 Ford Expedition with nearly 360,000 miles on it I’m surprised it held up as well as it did on the grass track.
A week later, and this is the “pandemic toll on the beast” part, about halfway between Forest and Morton I was cruising along, minding my on business when a big ole hawk came swooping out of nowhere directly at the windshield of my truck. I ducked my head just before it plowed into the driver’s side mirror and plummeted to the road.
The mirror folded in to the door, as they should do, but did not break. The automatic driver’s door window has not worked in years so I ended up having to pull over to reset the mirror before continuing my journey. On the return trip the hawk was gone, not even a greasy spot, so it was either only stunned or someone or something took care of it.
And then last week on Highway 21 as I came around the curve at Steele Town there was a transport truck heading straight for me like something off of the movie Smokey and the Bandit. Thick, black smoke was barrelling from both pipes as it passed two oncoming vehicles on a double yellow line right in front of Steele Baptist Church. I waved a finger at the driver very aggressively and it was not my index finger.
I find myself this week almost afraid to get on Highway 35, or 80 East with those narrow bridges, and God forbid I-20.
I know the coronavirus is affecting — as opposed to infecting — us all mentally in some form or fashion, but please y’all pay attention out there. It’s bad enough that we have a killer virus in our midst, we certainly don’t need any more killer drivers than we already have.