Putting brakes on rude driver

June 30, 2008|By KEVIN COWHERD

In a moment, we will get to the red BMW that tried some funny business on a busy mountain road and how we almost took care of this guy - took care of him good, too, although, no, not in a Paulie Walnuts way or anything.

But first a little background:

On the days when I can still afford to put gas in the car, I like to go barreling down the highway with the radio blasting, the wind rustling through my impressive helmet of gray hair, the open road stretched out before me like a shimmering black ribbon - until we come to a screeching halt at a construction backup.

Is it me or is every single highway in the country under construction right now?

What are these state highway officials thinking when they schedule these projects?

Because it seems as if they're thinking: OK, it's summer, peak travel season, hundreds of thousands of people trying to get to their vacation destinations - hey, let's close some lanes and work on the roads!

Which brings us to a recent Friday afternoon on Interstate 81 north in Pennsylvania, me cruising along, Springsteen on the radio, aforementioned gray hair ruffling in the breeze, etc.

Then we come to the requisite sign that says: "Right lane closed 1 mile."

Immediately, the traffic starts moving into the left lane.

Well, all except one car.

Because suddenly this red BMW goes shooting by in the right lane.

This could get ugly, I thought. Because as a general rule, lots of people find BMW drivers to be annoying.

They're perceived as rich guys who think they own the roads and can do whatever they want, weave in and out of traffic, roar up on your rear bumper at 90 in their flashy German sedans and sports cars.

I'm telling you, if they ever did a survey and asked: "Name the car that is driven by more jerks than any other car," BMWs would win in a landslide.

Anyway, this red BMW roars by on the right and keeps flying down the road.

We're getting closer and closer to the construction site, the signs to move over are getting more urgent, the orange barrels are gradually squeezing off the right lane. But this BMW just keeps going.

Finally, when he can't go any farther, he hits his left-turn signal.

He wants to get in our lane now.

But naturally no one will let the guy in.

No. 1, other drivers don't like cars that try to butt in their lane at the last minute.

And, No. 2, as I said, this is a guy in a BMW we're talking about.

In any event, this goes on for, I don't know, 90 seconds, easy.

Traffic is inching along on the left, and no one will let this guy in.

Oh, I wish you could have seen it!

I wish you could have seen the solidarity that we in the left lane displayed that day. I wish you could have seen our strength, our resolve, our steely determination to not let this guy ... oh, look at me. I'm getting all misty-eyed.

Finally, after a minute or so, I myself have nearly inched up to the construction site in my modestly priced, non-BMW vehicle.

And I can't wait to snub the guy, either.

I can't wait to ignore his pleading, hang-dog look and block him out, too.

But suddenly the pickup truck in front of me hits his brakes. It looks like he's going to crack and let the BMW in!

By now, I'm so caught up in the game that I'm gripping the steering wheel hard enough to snap it off.

My adrenaline is pumping and I'm radiating thought waves to the guy in the pickup that scream: NO! DON'T LET HIM IN!

Except ... he lets him in!

And the guy in the red BMW gives this haughty little wave of thanks.

Oh, it is so insincere. It's a wave, sure. But it's this little flip of his scrawny wrist that says: That's right, you recognized a superior being in a superior automobile, which you could never afford, and so you did the right thing and let me in. Now go back to your squalid little existence.

I swear, letting that guy in took the life out of all of us.

We had him where we wanted him. Justice was prevailing, good was triumphing over evil. And shame on us for letting the little ferret back in.

Maybe there was another construction zone up ahead somewhere. And maybe the red BMW would try the same stunt again and we'd get another chance to block him out.

But you don't get too many shots like that in this life.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Online

Read recent columns by Kevin Cowherd at baltimoresun .com/cowherd

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