Monday, December 15, 2008

For Dogs and Short People.

Last night when the sleet started, I decided I probably should hurry up and head home before it got any worse. I left Clay's house a little after nine, and the sleet was starting to show white on the ground.

Somewhere between growing up in the car business and racing several seasons on the dirt, I've learned to enjoy the feel of knowing what the car is doing. When it comes right down to it, I'll mostly avoid being out when the roads are icy; but there comes a time when staying in is the last thing I want to do. The SHO was alright the time or two I had to get home in bad weather, most front-wheel-drive cars are okay if ya drive 'em easy, but I wasn't about to take a chance on someone else hitting me in it. That's why I'd find something else to drive for those occasions -- both of the three-quarter-ton pickups stayed put pretty good, and I never had any close calls with the big Chevy Van or the Windstar either. I can't say I really liked the big Chevy Van, but I do remember coming home in a blinding snow one night and feeling just fine about it.

The Mark 8 is my first experience with Traction Control, and since the SHO lost it's anti-lock brakes somewhere around sixty thousand miles in '98 or so, I've found the anti-lock brakes amusing as well. I've fiddled with the digital traction goodies a little bit, but when it comes right down to it, I'd rather drive with my own brain and keep it together to the point where that stuff doesn't kick in. The feel of the difference between front and rear wheel drive is an experience every driver should have. I can't help but think I've learned a good bit from the feel of the race car, but I can't say the same about that being an experience everyone should have -- mostly because we've got enough crazies out there who don't know what's goin' on, but that's a whole 'nother rant by itself. That's not where I was going with this... Back from the rabbit-chase...

When I left Clay's house, the traction control light came on just a bit at the first stoplight, so I took it easy on around to the highway entrance ramp. I got on the highway real easy and ended up behind a fairly new white GMC Pickup. There was a pet taxi in the back, and I hoped there wasn't a pet in there freezin' in the cold. I stayed behind the GMC, we did 35 or 40, and all was well. When the highway widened out to three lanes, the truck moved over one lane to the left; he was in the middle, I was on the right, the left was empty.

I was just thinking I'd go ahead and move over behind the truck when I car came flyin' up behind us. A new blue Mustang appeared quickly behind the GMC and stayed right beside me for quite a while. When wondering "what the hell?" finally got the best of me, I looked over and was stunned by what I saw.

She was sitting up super-straight, that tensed-up impatient pose often seen in heavy traffic. She was the only human in the car, but she was not alone. She had a dog in her lap. Not a little purse-poodle, but a good-sized black & white dog, like maybe a Border Collie, up in her lap and nuzzling her face.

I know it's terrible, and what I had in mind was every bit as unsafe as a dog-in-the-face, but I couldn't help it, I reached for my camera.

I wasn't fast enough. Before I could get my hand over into the shotgun seat and reach into my laptop bag, she moved on over into that left lane, passed the GMC, and was gone.

I moved over and got behind the truck again, and we took our time making our way slowly around the loop toward US75 North. As we made our way around toward the overpass near Cain's, I could see red & blue flashing lights.

Sure enough, there it was, the blue Mustang, spun out and pointin' the wrong way with the front end tore up and the driver's door against the right side wall overlooking Tulsa's landmark ballroom.

Airbags can be deadly for short-legged folks who have to sit too close. I'm sure an airbag would be undoubtedly deadly for a Border Collie who's wedged ever-so-close between his human and the steering wheel.

I've heard they're smart dogs... Maybe he figured out what was goin' on and made a dive for the back seat.

Wear your seatbelt, think about your safety and the safety and health of your pets, and most importantly, slow the fuck down out there. Traction control, anti-lock brakes, four-wheel-drive, sure, they're helpful, but they're no substitute for brains and they don't mean you can do 80 and be invincible.

More later... _\,,/

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