Al Batt: He didn’t know but he came here to sic ‘em

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, October 11, 2022

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Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

I’m trapped between two oceans.

Al Batt

I often travel by automobile and when I do, I’m partial to roads. There is public transportation here, but only so many people can ride on one horse. If all the roads went away, I’d just mill around waiting for them to come back.

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The roads are all uphill, except those that are downhill. Before I was a licensed driver, I’d suggest my father drive us up to Minneapolis. It was always up to Minneapolis because we owned a globe. My father asked why. 

“To see things,” I’d say. 

“I can see things here,” my father said. 

“And to do things,” I countered. 

“I can do things here,” my father said, effectively halting further discussion. Green Acres was the place for him. “Green Acres” was an old TV show (1965-1971) about Oliver Wendell Douglas (played by Eddie Albert), a prominent New York attorney fulfilling his dream to be a farmer, and his wife Lisa (Eva Gabor) who’d been uprooted unwillingly from an upscale Manhattan penthouse apartment and moved to a dilapidated farm in Hooterville. Its theme song went like this: “Green Acres is the place to be. Farm livin’ is the life for me. Land spreadin’ out so far and wide. Keep Minneapolis, just give me that countryside.” 

I replaced “Manhattan” with “Minneapolis” for the sake of the tale.

I drove cautiously on a two-lane paved road. We used to take bad roads for granted, but no more. We demand roads as smooth as a baby’s bum. There was road work taking place. Crews applied essential oils. Road signs advised, “Please watch carefully as our menu options have changed.” There had to be road work because it wasn’t winter. It was a 60 mph road and I was driving 60 mph. As a boy, I recalled listening to an uncle talk of the good time he’d made driving from Boone, Iowa, to Algona, Iowa. It was riveting. I didn’t need to make good time. I’d left early, so I didn’t need to hurry. Driving the speed limit can make a driver feel like a moving target. A friend drives 55 mph whether the speed limit is 55 or 75. He gets better mileage that way, but he might be better served by driving a more fuel-efficient car. There was a slump-shouldered car, at least 10 car lengths ahead of me, also observing the posted speed limit. The pickup truck behind me roared up to my rear bumper but couldn’t pass because of oncoming traffic. His truck’s fenders sagged in disappointment, but only momentarily. He shot past me in a no-passing zone. I don’t know if he’d been driven by a demand to come here or to sic ‘em, but he was in a hurry. He put the pedal to the metal. He might have put the pedal to the pavement.

In the movie “A Few Good Men,” Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, played by Jack Nicholson, came close to saying, “You can’t handle the traffic!”

Perhaps the speeder couldn’t handle the traffic or was a hard-working scientist attempting to achieve the speed of light or he had a terminal allergy to obeying speed limits. He not only zoomed by me, but he also passed the car ahead of me — both in a no-passing zone.

I gave him chimerical characteristics. He was one of those people who believes everything he reads from his favorite social media influencers and believes nothing he reads on traffic signs. I mumbled, “The truck is the brains of that outfit.”

Apropos of nothing, “race car” spelled backward is “race car.”

A few miles later, I pulled into a gas station. As I filled my car with gas, I noticed that at the pump next to me was the Ford full-throttle truck that had passed me. I was relieved to see it hadn’t been a genuine emergency. The pernicious passer probably needed to scratch an itch or had to see a man about a horse.

If he’d been rushing to a big sale on gas, he’d missed it. His pump showed the same price per gallon as mine did. 

I’m not perfect. Why should I expect it in another?

I wished him roads with just enough potholes.

Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.