This being February, my timing couldn’t be much better as winter is just getting wound up and will end with that last little blizzard in June, the day after we set our tomato plants out.
Even at this latitude, here is one subject a lot of people don’t seem to give much thought to, and it shows.
Last week it showed up in my rear view mirrors.
I was navigating “the Flats,” or ‘Cocolalla 500,’ as I like to refer to it for its uncanny resemblance to the back stretch at Daytona. On a 3” snow pack pretreated with sodium chloride for added lubrication, I was leading the usual contingent of entrants under a caution flag. By dawn’s early light, I could see a large ‘snowball’ approaching on the outside, seeking a less obstructed view.
In the fast lane of this, the only decent place to pass for 25 meandering miles, was a little sedan determined to spook a small but well mannered herd of cattle trucks behind a flatbed haulin’ hay. In these conditions, the heavyweights were wallowing, much like water buffalo do, while the ‘rolling snow bank’ was, what I consider to be, ‘skating near open water.’
As it got closer, I could see a thin comet trail it was leaving behind, punctuated by random chunks of crust. The main body, though, was holding firm on its perch like a turkey vulture in a ‘blue norther.’
As we neared the neck-down back to a two lane road, it came alongside where I could get a better look at its inner workings. I allowed an eyeball to check it out, figuring that if things were interesting enough, I’d spare the other one.
Grinning and chewing simultaneously (one of many things I can’t seem to do without making a mess) and with both knees firmly on the wheel, was a guy flicking his ‘gizmo’! Upwards, downwards, sidewards and even poking at it! He reached for another doughnut. Leaning in with complete attention, he made a few deft hand movements, threw his head back in jubilation, looked over to see how many eyes were on him (two, by this time) then spun his unit around in time to share his morning fun. I think I’d just gotten ‘mooned’ electronically but I wasn’t certain. Could’ve been a wrinkled peach for all I know!
Expecting to see this eventually, I kept my emotions to myself and he didn’t seem to care.
He turned his tablet back, resting it on his steering wheel where it gave off a warm and fleshy glow, fully illuminating a powdered sugar grin on a raw nut in a tank top.
I don’t see many of these in late January except in my bathroom mirror, so I let myself enjoy a quick double take. My unprepared neck made sounds very difficult to put on paper, so I’m not even going to try, but I did make a mental note to describe them to my chiropractor at my next visit.
All together, this revealed three important things: I needed to stop reacting like that, this was the ‘one in every crowd,’ and ignorance was having a little picnic at just over a mile a minute.
I looked up to fully appreciate the sheer volume of snow going by, having more inertia than my bank account and presumably in possession of a valid driver’s license.
Actually, it was quite impressive. One of the best ‘pillow tops’ I’d ever seen wearing Idaho plates, so I called KPND and requested an old Harry Chapin tune.
Looking back at the operator as he rolled on by, I saw a man laughing so hard he had a grip on his other gizmo. I easily recognized that hold as the “too much coffee, man!” hold.
That’s when it dawned on me that I was now following someone in the process of a “FYGWDUIFUS” (flicking your gizmo while driving under the influence of a full urinary system). A blatant violation of no particular code I could think of.
I began to fantasize about my nice warm fireplace, easy chair and a hot cup of coffee when I became suspicious of the bond between car and snowball, skipping any confidence at all in one that might exist between car and driver. I could see water rivulets curtain the back window, indicating a warming trend in progress.
A slideshow of previous experiences showed very similar, but not nearly as stupendous looking piles coming unglued from their host vehicles and disrupting lives in unique and unforeseen ways. Some were humorous while others were a bit more tragic.
We rolled on northbound as if nothing out of the ordinary was about to happen. Looking back at the hay truck, I could see the driver lip-syncing to “Thirty Thousand Pounds of Bananas” and swaying playfully to the beat of his wipers. It was raining. Awesome!
This gave me just enough time to review the possibilities.
One, it could all come off at once, stay airborne long enough to land a startled look on my face and force a pellet down my pant leg. Two, it could slide off into oncoming traffic, producing pellets in other people’s pant legs. Three, it would, by the grace of God, stay put until it got back home, then slide off in the driveway to provide some much needed irony to this story.
I had four more possibles to go when we rounded the bend at Westmond where a state trooper was just finishing with a customer on the side of the road. Make that five more possibilities!
I tried to slack off, ignoring a backwards “Peterbuilt” taking up most of my rear view mirror.
Brake lights signaled the start of a new paragraph!
I said “Good morning God! Are you watching this?”
One more glance back revealed the message “ubret.”
This wasn’t nearly as disturbing as watching three feet of snow slide off a car roof, down the windshield, seizing wipers as it went and coming to rest on a bug deflector like a forty-nine inch gut held back by a thirty-two inch waste band.
The driver’s side window went down accordingly and out popped a knothead just in time to greet the refreshing wake of a southbound load of Canadian piglets. His stocking cap would have disappeared if his eyebrows hadn’t got a hold of it first.
Compassion instantly began to well up in my chest but turned out to be a pocket of gas derived from granola, toast and grapefruit juice. I mentally prepared for the next available exit.
Catching a rut, he went sideways. This allowed me a profound view of two eyeballs fighting their way out of slush, salt and other seasonings in search of instructions, salvation or any spare form of available good fortune. Then, his right rear tire found the edge of the road, pulling him around one-eighty and directly into the parking lot of the Westmond Store. I followed just to see if, with this amount of luck, he was going to invest in a lottery ticket. He settled for the men’s room and a fresh box of donuts.
On a similar note, I originally wanted to brag about my new snow blower and its remarkable ability to cleanly and efficiently remove license plates and other unwary items in the dark of early morning. When I locate them in the spring, maybe I’ll do an update on the ‘finer points’ of snow removal. Until then, yer on your own.