Texting, talking and looking behind the wheel

Published 8:19 am Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Al Batt, Tales from Exit 22

Thoughts while driving.

That guy has been driving for miles with his turn signal on. Poor old fool. I turned my signal off when I noticed his.

Al Batt

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I don’t see couples sitting close. When I was courting my wife, we would huddle so close that we could pass as a single person in the vehicle. Seat belts have changed that. Now two people in an automobile have to do all their hugging and smooching by text messaging one another.

Alligators line the highway. Large chunks of rubber, some of the tire debris likely from retreads — sometimes called recaps or refurbished tires, retread tires are old tires recoated with a rubber veneer of tread. My father bought recapped tires at Monkey Ward’s. They were cheaper than new tires. I saw a state patrolman helping to change a tire. Flat tires always seem to be on the traffic side.

Digital billboards — as if we don’t watch enough TV.

That was a cool motorcycle. Loud but cool. Motorcyclists have always been my age, no matter what age I’ve been.

What does that vanity plate mean? Vehicles should have a bumper sticker explaining vanity plates.

Never mind the vanity plate, what kind of car is that? I used to be able to tell the make and model of a car a mile away. Now I have to read the names on a parked vehicle.

Political bumper stickers serve no purpose other than ticking off those with opposing viewpoints. One vehicle had a KQRS 92 radio sticker. It was upside down. Another offered a “Too cool to drive the speed limit” sticker, which invites speeding tickets or enhanced fines. Most folks are too cool or too hurried to drive the speed limit. My favorite bumper sticker of the day was, “I brake for trains.”

Automobiles pass me in grouped color schemes. Three white cars zoom by, then four black vehicles in a row. A red car rockets by me at an exceptional speed. Where is a policeman when we need one? Then I saw a police car and lowered my speed. I hope his radar works only on red cars.

Look, that driver isn’t talking on a cell phone. He’s engaging in an un-American activity — driving without a phone to his ear. What did drivers do before cell phones? Watch the road? I see a driver pulled over along an interstate highway in order to talk on a phone. I hope it’s an emergency. No, I don’t. What I hope is that he gets back on the road before he becomes an emergency. Many commercial vehicles sport “How’s my driving?” followed by an 800 number. That’s likely why everyone talks on cell phones. Some drivers don’t use cell phones because they need their hands free to make gestures. An optimist is one who thinks he can change others with an obscene gesture.

The roads are rough. That’s OK. People pay money for similar rides at an amusement park.

All of these traffic signs have been shot by paint guns. It looks like large ketchup packets have hit them. The first stop sign was erected in 1914. I wonder if anyone stopped for that one?

I used to see how many license plates I could see from different states. There are too many different kinds of plates now. Most states have numerous editions. I count the birds on plates — chickadees, loons, goldfinches, turkeys, scissortail flycatchers, peregrine falcons, bluebirds, quail, cardinals, eagles, hummingbirds, etc.

Should I point out that low tire to that driver or would it cause him to succumb to road rage or call a police officer?

An aggregate company truck passes me. It advertises, “Putting it down all over you.” Maybe he works for a cemetery.

That guy is reading a book opened on the steering wheel. A student cramming for a test? When I was a boy, my parents drove me to town when the bookmobile arrived. It was a library on wheels, a bus of books. I’d fill my arms with reading material and began reading the books on the drive home. That’s the only kind of reading anyone should be doing in a moving vehicle.

The lady on the radio says that owning a cat makes the owner 40 percent less likely to have a cardiac arrest. I’ll bet that number goes down if the cat is a Bengal tiger.

That driver is yawning. I yawn in response. Another driver picks his nose. Some things should be done only while waiting at stoplights.

I turn into my drive. The garage door lifts in a welcoming manner.

Home. A four-letter word that means, “No tipping.”

It’s great to go. It’s even better to be home.

Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.