Thursday, October 27, 2016

C'est Cheese

This is another in my series of “Things that Cheese Me Off,” road-trip division. Early in life I was introduced to the joys of the Sunday drive. As with any activity, it comes with its share of cheese-inducing possibilities. I was out on the road last Sunday. Along with the sought-for relaxation, I encountered a few mild cheeses along the way.

I left home early, armed with a bottle of water and a map, even though I knew where I was going. My destinations were two shopping malls about thirty miles from the home base, and around twenty miles from each other, along with a used bookstore near the first mall. By using the right roads I could travel in a circle for maximum sightseeing.

All started well. I took the four-lane Rt. 222 to Shillington, then opted to follow a back route to Pottstown, site of the Coventry Mall. More stuff to look at, less traffic. So I assumed. Even on secondary roads, on a Sunday, I encountered “Mr. Hurry.” You know the guy (or gal): they’re the ones who hang on your bumper because, even though you’re doing ten miles over the posted speed limit, that’s still too slow for them.

I ran into two of these on a stretch of secondary road barely a half hour into my trip. It makes it tough to cruise around and sightsee. I can only imagine the language they’re using regarding my driving habits.

This especially drives me nuts when I go Sunday-driving around home. I live in a county crisscrossed with two-lane back roads and all sorts of Nature to look at. There are always two drivers out on these roads: me, and the guy on my tail. And there’s nowhere to pull over and let them pass, which is how I usually deal with the Mr. Hurrys I encounter. It makes me nervous, always having to glance in the rearview and calculate how far into my back seat they’re going to penetrate if I’m forced to slam on the brake.

Fortunately, on this particular road I was able to slow down and pull over onto the shoulder so they could zoom around me. Ten minutes later I came to a red light and lo and behold, there were both drivers who’d passed me. I pulled in behind them and had myself a quiet laugh while we waited for the light to turn green.

My favorite example of this type of karmic retribution happened years ago. Same situation—twisty two-lane back road, guy on my bumper, no way for him to pass. I finally pulled off into somebody’s driveway, and he roared away toward the horizon, vanishing from sight within seconds. I continued on at my leisurely pace. About twenty minutes later, about thirty miles away, I once again came to a red light. You know who was already sitting there. For all his lead-footing and reckless driving, there we were, together again. Speeding doesn’t necessarily get you there any faster, so you might as well slow down and enjoy the scenery.

Which I did, following a stop at the first mall. Rather than backtrack, I went twisting around on some country lanes, in the hopes of hooking up with the state road upon which the used bookstore was situated. I came across a couple other drivers back here, but none behind me, so I was able to cruise and enjoy the fall leaves. Good thing I was going slow—I rounded one sharp bend and there was some guy taking his Sunday stroll along the side of the road. In the road, in fact. Nor did he get over onto the berm when he saw me coming at him. I was forced to pull into the oncoming lane (another curse, which I couldn't see around) in order to give him space. Luckily no one was coming. The pedestrian was probably one of those people I’ve talked about, who ignores Do Not Enter, No Trespassing and Closed signs, too. Had I ended up in a head-on collision, I’m sure Mr. I Own the Road would have glared at me and pronounced, “Stupid woman driver.”

I did make it to the used bookstore without crashing, however, and found a couple volumes at great prices. Then it was on to the Exton Mall. I stuck to highways for that leg of the trip. More available lanes removed the threat of Mr. Hurry. It’s a game I like to play on three- and four-lanes: stick to the speed limit and see who passes me. Today, as always, it was everybody. I’m content to stay at the back of the pack, seeing what’s by the side of the road.

Here in Pennsylvania it appeared to be signs supporting Trump. The whole time I was out, all the roads I was on, I did not see a single Hillary sign. I guess we’re all solid Republicans here in Dutch Country. Either that, or the Clinton supporters are lying low, and will make their presence known at the voting booth. Guess we’ll know in a week or so.

On the way home Karma decided to get cute with me and deliver a taste of my own medicine. Since the trip was now over and all sights seen, I felt okay with speeding on Rt. 322. So of course I ended up behind a family of tourists, out for their own Sunday drive. I could tell because they slowed down to wave to the Amish in their buggies, and the kid in the back seat took pictures. At one point they put on the brakes because omigod look, there are horses in a field. I sucked it up and held back and tried to keep an acceptable distance between us. This was one of those no-passing roads, so the tourists had accumulated quite a line behind them by the time they finally turned off.

And that’s what I do on my Sundays off: drive around aimlessly, look at stuff, and complain about other people. With winter coming on, I’ll be staying in and, I hope, writing more. Then from the proceeds I can hire somebody to drive me around and we can both complain. Enjoy your slices of cheese.

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