When I was a kid, we often drove to central and southern Illinois to visit family. Those were long honkin’ drives, to southern Illinois especially. Springfield was easy to reach, with an interstate straight to it, but getting down to see my dad’s side of the family took a lifetime and a half, courtesy of two-lane roads. Two-lane, winding roads, slowing at every “blink and you miss it” town, with Fred Flintstone “background on repeat” scenery, all back before iDevices and in-car DVD players made travel less tedious. It was books until you got queasy and then it was looking out the window until you fell asleep.
Those two-lane winding roads. I hate driving on them, myself. Oncoming traffic always seems to whip past at the speed of light, deer have a tendency to spook out of the scrub and into the cars, you get stuck behind a slow driver and you’re doomed until you can see far enough down the stretch to gun it and pass. God help you if the weather is bad, or it’s nighttime. You just can’t see far enough ahead to feel safe.
I remember one trip we were heading home from far southern Illinois. My dad was driving, and he pulled into the oncoming traffic lane to pass a semi. Damned semi pulled right in front of our van and hit his brakes. Accompanied by much gasping and exclaiming from all of us in the vehicle, my dad slammed on the brakes and swerved back behind the semi. It was a clear day, no other traffic, no reason we could see that the semi driver would do that.
From where he sat (higher up and ahead of us), the semi driver saw the upcoming four-way stop. The road was curving, we were behind a much larger vehicle, we couldn’t see it coming. He saved us from a potentially dangerous accident. Instantly the irritation and anger over what had looked like an irrational act turned to relief and gratitude for a stranger’s intervention.
I’m trying so hard to remember that sometimes life is this way too. That sometimes something (or many, many somethings) happens and you can’t see why until later. That at some point it all becomes clear and you’re flooded with relief that the semi pulled in front of your life when it did, as frightening and confusing and stressful as it was at the time.
We’ve been trying to pass a semi in our lives for years now and it keeps swerving to prevent us from getting ahead of it. Today it not only swerved again but slammed on its brakes. Repeatedly. I don’t know if the driver is saving us from ourselves or just pissed drunk, but frankly if I’m going to feel any kind of relief and gratitude for his ongoing intervention he’d better knock it the hell off already and allow us to pass. We’re bruised and battered and exhausted from being thrown against the safety restraints for so long, and we’re damned near out of gas. I sure as hell know I’m out of patience.
Get me off this winding two-lane road. Please.