Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Road Trip!

This past weekend I ventured for the first time to the Twin Cities. Everyone in Rochester will tell you that it’s an 80 minute drive (1 hour and 20 minutes – depending on your source). It is an easy drive because, in a fit of common sense, the powers that be decreed “We shall have a 4-lane highway connecting Rochester to The Cities” and it was so. There isn’t too much to see along the highway: farms, an elk farm, small towns, and several strip clubs (sorry “gentleman’s clubs”).

Being a 4-lane divided highway, the speed limit is 65 MPH. I set my cruise control to 70 MPH and quickly learned that the posted speed limit is taken as merely a suggestion… should you find you don’t have enough speed and adventure in your life. Otherwise most were Sunday Drivers, content to plod along at 55-60 MPH.

Fine. As long as I have the opportunity to pass them, I’m satisfied. Then I was introduced to The Minnesota Wedge. I don’t believe this particular phenomenon is specific to MN by any means, but if looking for away to distinguish your state’s driving population – this will do the trick. Picture two vehicles (I’ll leave the make, model and color up to your imagination) being driven by the aforementioned Sunday Drivers – side by side (or nearly so) down the highway. As you approach, you find that you are trapped by a wall of oblivious-ness. Both Sunday Drivers are quite enjoying the view off to either side of the highway and cannot be bothered to check their mirrors and notice your presence. They do not recognize the purpose nor the authority of the passing lane. In their minds, both lanes are equal. Why should anyone want to pass them?

I also came across several cases of Road Hypnosis. I’d pass someone only to be passed by them a short time later. Apparently I snapped them out of their reverie just in time to see a speed limit sign and realize that they were, in fact, allowed to drive faster. Much, much faster. This is most annoying when the realization hits JUST AS I am attempting to pass them – thereby negating the need to pass in the first place.

The most creepy driver I came across – The Stalker. This driver follows the nearest relatively fast car. This guy wants reassurance that it’s OK to drive fast so he attaches himself like a pilot fish to a shark. If you pass his shark, he’ll attach himself to you. I believe he thinks he will avoid a speeding ticket this way, but that’s just a guess. I picked up a Stalker on my way home to Rochester. What was creepy was his tendency to stay 1-2 car lengths behind me, as if riding my ass to get me to speed up. All the while the passing lane is wide open. Our little procession crossed a good number of miles. Finally we reached a stretch where a third lane appeared to our right and it was THEN that the decided it was time. To actually pass me. On the right. WTF?

Now I will openly admit that I am not a perfect driver, but I do try to have proper highway etiquette. I’ll be anxious to see what other interesting species of driver I come across the next time I venture north.

5 Comments:

Blogger craig said...

Holy crap, *I'm* a stalker! And I never realized it! Your hypothesis is correct... I always think no matter how fast I'm driving, as long as ONE car is going faster than me, I am completely immune to speeding tickets. I mean, when a bunch of cars are speeding, it only makes sense that the cop would bust the first in the parade, right?

My theory may not be backed up with hard data. Yet.

6:47 AM  
Blogger dressagemom said...

Yeah, you may be a stalker, but you are also a complete "Slow Speed Talker". As soon as you get into a conversation while driving, your speed instantly drops 10 mph. It drives me crazy, but I'd rather have you slow down than crash if you can't concentrate on both verbalizing and driving.

Does that happen when you sing while driving too?

8:54 AM  
Blogger craig said...

It's true... sometimes I slow down when I'm talking. However, sometimes if a rockin' song comes on the radio, I drive too fast.

And when I sing? Well, that's just no good for anyone.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm extremely surprised you didn't notice the 'wedge' phenom in OH! Its amazing - but I've noticed such a difference immediately after crossing into PA. I'll have to note not to drive west:)

2:04 PM  
Blogger Lil Kate said...

Craig - Think about this: cops sneak up *behind you* in order to pull you over. Think they're going to pass you to get to me? I doubt it. They'll pick off people from the back of the pack.

'Neapatt - Remember: I rarely ventured too far from home, so there were not a lot of highway miles on my car. ;) I wasn't out there enough to really see the OH Wedge in action. Though I did see a lot of it on Mayfield. Drove me insane.

5:25 PM  

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