Biff Sock Pow

Finding the humor in everyday life.

Archive for the tag “Bad Drivers”

Big Wheel, Keep on Burnin’


I saw something on the way to work this morning that one doesn’t often see.

Like most stories (or, more accurately, anecdotes), this one starts out with the hackneyed phrase “I was minding my own business …”  I read that that is a good opening sentence in the “Helpful Hints” section of the “Blogging for Fun and Profit” book I found at the used bookstore for 25 cents.  Anyway …

I was minding my own business while zipping along the five-lanes-in-each-direction freeway, on my way to work.  Apparently “my business” was to be going too slow for the prevailing traffic conditions, even though I was doing about ten miles an hour over the posted speed.  But in my defense, I was listening to “Summertime Dream” by Gordon Lightfoot on the CD player, and the song was admonishing me to slow down and enjoy life.  Okay, maybe not explicitly, but it was implied.  So I was taking it slow (at the poky speed of 75 miles per hour).  I was on a trip on down to worker-land, where time gets logged, with a straw boss tallying up the hours.  (That was just a little something for you Gordon Lightfoot fans out there.)

Suddenly, traffic began to slow down (as it often does, for no apparent reason).  In the lane just to my left I began to see two eight-inch-wide black stripes on the pavement running parallel to each other.  They paced me for a bit and then made a graceful parabolic arc away to the left and off the road.  There was no burning wreckage at the end of the marks, so I’m assuming the driver that created them managed to regain his composure and continue on his merry way.

The cause of these skid marks was a little odd.  There, right in the middle of the road was a metal wheelbarrow.  It was upside down, resting on the rim of the barrow part.  It was just sitting there innocently while cars weaved and swerved and darted around it.  I managed to make my way by it with no problems.   I kept looking at it in my rear view mirror.  Everyone seemed to be avoiding it okay, though I’m sure there were plenty of salty monologues being delivered to no one in particular.

At about that time, the inside of my truck was suddenly filled with the acrid smell of burning car tires.  Apparently, whatever vehicle had made those thick rubber skid marks on the freeway just in front of the wheelbarrow had done so just moments before I arrived.

Egad!  What a smell!  It instantly reminded me of the year of my youth when I lived with my uncle, aunt, and cousins on their farm in rural Alabama (VERY rural).  My uncle apparently believed that the way to dispose of a cow that had expired was to surround the dearly departed with about three dozen car and truck tires and then set the rubber pyre (see what I did there?) on fire.  You might say it was a funeral tire. (I did it again …anything worth doing, is worth doing twice in a row for maximum comic effect.)

The tires would burn for days and days, creating a plume of black smoke that could be seen from outer space (or at least from Demopolis).  The air was filled with the pong of burning tires.  It became a topic of discussion around about those parts for as long as the plume was visible.

What’s really bizarre, is that at the time I didn’t think there was anything bizarre about my uncle’s behavior.  Why WOULDN’T you bury a dead cow under a pile of old tires and set it on fire?  Made perfect sense to me.  At that innocent time in my life I believed that grown-ups held all of the secrets of the universe in their minds and that if they did something, then there was no reason to question the sanity of it.  But we grow up.  We realize grown-ups are fumbling around in the dark for answers just like we are.  I must admit, though … I’ve always been curious as to the sequence of thoughts that led from “Hmm … ol’ Bessie died” to “I’m gonna bury her in tires and set the whole shootin’ match on fahr.

But the real point I’m trying to make is that it’s funny how an aroma can take you instantly back to a distant time of your life with such clarity that it is startling.

Not quite as startling as suddenly encountering a wheelbarrow in the middle of the road at 75 miles an hour.  But nearly.


Dallas Weather Conspiracy Revealed


It is another frigid, freezing day here in Dallas.  It is a mere 15.9 degrees (-8.94 C), though the weather site says it feels like 16.0 degrees (-8.89 C).  I guess it is the heat index that makes it feel so much more warm and balmy.  But as we all know, it isn’t so much the heat that gets you; it’s the humidity.

I’m joking of course.  Cold is cold.  And I know Dallasites have a reputation around the world for being weenies when it comes to cold weather, and particularly when it snows.  (See my earlier post on this subject here.)

But I’ll let you in on a little secret.

Dallasites, as a rule, are pretty hardy folk.  After all, we deal with summers here that last 6 months long and which routinely inflict temperatures on us of 105 degrees (40.6 C) or more.  Such a thing is not for the faint of heart.  And though the rest of the world doesn’t think we do, we actually look forward to winter.  In winter, Dallas, for a few short months, becomes like “normal” parts of the world.   The average temperature falls down into a range where people can go outside and engage in normal activities without the fear of dying from heat stroke or dehydration.  In winter, there is an upsurge in the number of people one sees bicycling, jogging, walking dogs, picnicking, hot air ballooning, or just being outside and smiling.  We even look forward to the occasional snow day.  We love waking up and seeing everything blanketed in the white stuff.  Every snow day feels like a holiday here and it fills people with elation and joie de vivre.

Unfortunately, Dallasites do not know how to drive in ice or snow.  That isn’t because we are worse drivers than are found elsewhere.  It’s just a lack of practice on our part, as well as not really having the proper equipment.  We don’t have snow plows to clear the streets.  We don’t have special snow tires, or snow chains.  Hell, we barely keep ice scrapers in our vehicles!   There just isn’t that big of a need for them.

But here is the secret I promised you.  People in Dallas drive poorly in the snow and ice on purpose.  I mean, if we suddenly became very proficient at driving in the snow … if a day of snow was no more debilitating than a day of light rain or sunshine … then the city would go on as normal on those rare days when we get an inch or two of snow.  And that means we would not get to enjoy those rare days of snowfall we get but once or twice a year, because we would have to go to work or school just like we would on a “normal” day.  And, after enduring 6 or more months of 100+ degree temperatures, we feel like we deserve a snow day once in awhile.

Everyone is in on the scam.  Even the city governments and businesses.  Even the TV meteorologists beg everyone to just stay home when it snows.  That is why no one here invests in snow equipment.  Cities don’t buy snow plows.  We buy just enough salt and sand to keep the bridges from being death traps, but otherwise we just sort of throw up our hands, and like the bad actress who only got the role because she sleeps with the director, we say in our best tragic voice, “Oh dear!  However will I get to work today?  I’d better stay home in my pajamas and drink hot cocoa today.”  [Stage direction:  Place back of hand against forehead for dramatic effect.  Collapse on fainting couch dramatically.  Await smelling salts.]

So, please, feel free to ridicule us all you like about how a light dusting of snow shuts down the entire city.  Hell, we even make fun of ourselves for that!  We laugh at how incompetent we are at driving in snow.  But just please don’t rat us out.  I beg you, let us have this!

It’s all we’ve got.

How to Break Dallas


Some of you might have heard on the news that we here in Dallas had a major weather event today.  It was horrible!  Roads were closed.  Cars piled up on the side of the road.  Businesses closed.  All of the weather people and news anchors took to the air to wring their hands, pull out tufts of hair, and rend their clothing.  Roving reporters were dispatched to every corner of the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex to cover this weather disaster.  They stood on bridges overlooking roadways that were littered with the broken remains of semi trucks and cars.  You could practically feel the reporters wanting to cry out in despair, “Oh!  The humanity!”   And as I watched them standing on those bridges, I kept thinking to myself, “Please don’t jump, Mr. Distraught News Reporter Person!”

What was this weather event that caused so much chaos in one of the largest, most educated, most technologically advanced cities in the Western Hemisphere?  Was it a massive tornado?  Was it a fracking-induced earthquake?  Was it torrential rains?

Why, it was no less than a trace of snow!  It flurried big snowflakes for maybe an hour.  The temperature was so cold that the snow was dry and powdery when it hit the ground and so it mostly blew away and accumulated in grassy areas.  The roadways remained mostly dry.  It piled up on car windshields, but blew away like powdered sugar at the slightest breeze.

It took me twice as long to get home from work as it usually does because a major bridge I have to cross had been constricted from 3 lanes down to 1.  When it was finally my turn to cross it, the bridge was almost completely dry.  Two cars sat on the bridge in the closed-off lanes about 30 yards apart with no apparent damage to either vehicle.  Perhaps they just panicked and parked there.  In fact, every accident I passed looked to be a case of a driver seeing a snowflake hit their windshield, them screaming in terror, and then driving off the road, up on the curb and into an embankment, bridge abutment, or median.

I love Dallas.  There is a lot to be proud of here.  It is a very dynamic, cosmopolitan, can-do kind of city.

But we lose our collective minds when a single snowflake hits the ground.

Stay strong, Dallas!  You’ll get through this tragedy!


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