Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Leader of the Pack

This is actually yesterday's post, but I was too tired last night to drive into town to upload it. I'll do better tonight.

At first glance, this may look like a take-off on the hilarious toll booth scene in Blazing Saddles, but trust me, it is for real.

Guanella Pass is undergoing a great deal of construction to repair winter damage. In three places, so much of the roadbed is gone there is room for only one lane of traffic at a time. Not an uncommon scene, but most of the time, when I come across such a scenario, there are people monitoring driver compliance--outfitted with dayglo orange safety vests and armed with a plastic flag on a stick (which they wave in a manner that makes sense only to them). But this was an honor system--just a red light sitting there, daring you to breach the DMZ.

Maybe instead of Blazing Saddles (where the toll booth was manned), this is really a candid camera setup. How long will drivers sit in a line at a red light without any confirmation that there are as-yet-unseen cars heading toward them with no room for evasive action? Apparently, previous experience has taught the concocters of this cruel mind game that 10 minutes is the most an average, law-abiding driver can wait. And so, after 10 minutes, during which a few cars have indeed come skidding around the downhill curve (taking a total of about 30 seconds) the light changes to green.

Now, go back and look closely at the picture. Check out the truck's license plate. Texas. And then ask yourself, "Who drives from Texas to north central Colorado in a work truck like that?"

I was second in line, right behind the truck from Texas, my own origin disguised by the Colorado plates on my rental. I don't know who the driver was, but he struggled with the red light. I had followed him up from town, so I knew he was traveling with another car. When we came upon the red light, they both stopped, but then the car went on. Color blind? Illiterate? Inventive? (The road curved off to the right just after the traffic light, so maybe it was a variation on right-turn-on-red. After all, there was no cross traffic.) Stubborn scofflaw? Daredevil? I will never know. But I had time to study the truck driver's reaction.

At first, he just sat where he was, engine running . . . roughly. Then, he put it in drive and lurched forward. I thought he was following suit and following his buddy, but then he stopped and put it back in park again. Maybe he was looking for the white stripe that tells you where to stop for a red light. If this was the case, he was a perfectionist, because he pulled up two more times before finally coming to rest where you see him in the picture.

No bold nonconformist myself, I started my car again and pulled up to make the gap between us "appropriate." Didn't want to encourage anyone in line behind us to swing out and try to swoop in between us. Then I turned off my engine, rolled down all the windows, hopped out to take the picture, then settled down to relax and wait.

Sure enough, the light finally turned green, and our pack headed out together up the mountain. Just where it widened back out to two lanes again, there was the truck driver's buddy, parked on the side of the road, waiting for him. Apparently, he had survived his reckless trek unharmed. Just up the road, they pulled off together into a campground (hence the cooler in the back of the truck?), making me the leader of our pack.

I knew there were two more red lights in front of us, so I solemnly resolved to myself to stick the landing on both of them on the first try . . . because I suspect that Jesus may just GARA about such things.


1 comment:

peace......judi said...

I had to laugh....out loud, mind you!....at the Blazing Saddles reference! I am glad to see that higher education has not made a snob out of you! You are still real!

good job.....Dr. Dummy!