This post should have appeared last night, but just as I was saving it the power very briefly went out.
No one in Lawrence knows how to drive. Pulling out of your driveway and driving through town is a dance with death, and the local car insurance rates oh-so-painfully reflect that sad fact. Please consider the following three experiences I had just today within the space of about two hours:
1. I noticed a vehicle traveling at a very fast rate of speed coming up behind me, wildly weaving from lane to lane and passing every other vehicle on the road. As it was passing me on my left, its driver apparently mistook the giant van I was driving for an empty space of road. The driver noticed the error about two inches from disaster, jerked the vehicle back into the proper lane, displayed a vulgar hand gesture directed towards me, and screamed through an open window "Get that fucking 'tard wagon off the fucking road, you asshole."
2. A vehicle approached me very rapidly from behind and slowed down to match my speed (a little above 45mph) only a few inches from my rear bumper (I judged the distance by the fact that I could not see the other vehicle in any of my mirrors, and only its roof when I physically turned my head to look out the rear window). After traveling like that for approximately half of a mile, the other driver rapidly passed me, pulled back into my lane, and slammed on their brakes. As I slammed on my brakes to avoid a collision, the other driver accelerated and sped away, displaying a vulgar hand gesture.
3. I was in a right-turn only lane at a red light, just starting to make the turn. A vehicle in the left-turn lane waiting at a red light on the same side of the street suddenly veered out of the lane, cut across the middle lane of traffic, and made a very illegal right turn. The vehicle missed hitting me by only a few inches. As it sped past me, the driver honked at me and--you guessed it--displayed a vulgar hand gesture.
Individually, none of these situations are too remarkable; even that they all happened in one day, before noon, isn't anything special--like I said, Lawrence is driver hell. What makes them noteworthy were the striking similarities they all shared.
All of the vehicles were mini-vans.
Each mini-van was driven by a woman.
Each mini-van contained at least three children, all of whom were obviously unrestrained (clinbing over seats, hopping up and down--in the first incident, a kid was sitting upside-down in the front seat).
All three drivers were talking on cell phones at the time of the incident (the driver in the first event didn't cover up the phone while shouting obscenities).
All the vans had "Bush/Cheney 2004" bumper stickers.
And--this is the really odd similarity, and one that will hopefully not lead Mac
to a heart attack--the license plate numbers on all three vans contained the number "23".
I wish I could say these near-collisions were caused by people driving humvees or nasty trucks with confederate flag stickers, but no. In Lawrence, those people are, for the most part, the good drivers. How mothers can have absolutely no regard for the lives of their children is quite beyond my capacity to reason. Perhaps what they need is see one of their little ones hurtling through the windshield and landing in the middle of a busy lane of traffic... who knows.