Thursday, August 21, 2008

Still waiting on Fay

As I type this, the rain has become more frequent & the rain bands more dense. I made a quick while-I-still-can trip to the feed store to top off the barrels. In the three mile drive I passed through clear, rainy, & so pounding rainy that I could not hear the radio. I was listening to "Less Than Jake". That's loud pounding.

On the way home, I crossed paths with a peculiar local-driver variant I have only ever found well South of the Mason-Dixon: the nonhydoplaner. They can hydroplane (they often do) but each time it is a complete mystery how it happens. For those of you have kept cats off the counter with a water pistol, you know the look.

My first experience of this driver was Houston. Water more than an inch up the tire & every clown on the loop driving the standard 75. It is easy to skid off the interstate & onto local roads in good weather (many do it on purpose, avoiding those pesky exit-ramp traffic-lights). I would sit in my office, looking out over the SW Freeway/610 exchange, watching the melee.

I have driven in some of the stoopidest traffic in this country. My first commute was through the infamous G.Fox & Company snarl on 91 in Hartford. I spent one memorable May living in Greenwich, CT while working in Morristown, NJ. Whenever I was on a job in Culver City, I would drive to visit friends in Laguna Beach. I am familiar with the driver-drone who really, truly does not know where he is. But I had never seen anything like the nonhydroplaner.

The hallmarks are a large, heavy vehicle (they seem to favor Ford 150s, but an Escalade will do), prone to fishtailing. The more water on the road, the faster they go through it. The ONLY time a nonhydroplaner hits the brakes is when they are actually surfing. Once the tires make contact with pavement, they hit the gas again, often climbing a guard rail or, if they have not stopped talking on the phone, the vehicle in front of them (which may be driven by another nonhydroplaner). The pile-ups I used to watch were truly spectacular.

Now I rarely drive in the city; most of my driving is actually on dirt roads (which here in FLA are sand roads). And it is here that I have observed that niche species, the red-neck nonhydroplaner. This good ole boy usually drives heavy truck-the kind that requires a Class D license, but he usually does not have one. There is often an empty gooseneck trailer for extra torque.

I could tell, driving home from the feed store there was one in the area. The sudden stops on the saturated sand make deep ruts in the road & once you hit one, you will go well out of your way to avoid another. There are not actual lanes on our street, you just try to give anyone coming from the other direction the room he needs. Still, the car in front of me was veering so wildly around the road that it could only mean one thing.

Sure enough, we caught up with him. On a sandy road, in a blinding downpour, he had tried to turn his truck & trailer on to another country road & hung himself up on the gatepost. When I crept past at 15 miles an hour, I could see him, talking on his cell phone & waving his arms around to keep the liberated cows from scattering too far.

Fortunately, there is a tropical storm hanging over us & schools are closed, so one of the boys from the farm will be down to fix that fence soon enough.

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