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Monday, November 4, 2013

The Ripple Airs a Gripe…

fogboundFog. This time of the year the Valley is socked in. Valley fog does not pussyfoot around like Carl Sandburg’s “little cat’s feet” fog. Ours is hardcore fog, fog that could strangle a foghorn. Just a bit of heat during the day followed by a crisp, clear night and next morning the Valley is slammed shut in a gray box…and a while back the Valley was one long fogbank for an entire two weeks.

Our routine is such these days that we have to make a trip to Everett five days a week. We leave at 8:00 a.m., must be in Everett by 9:00. The most stressful part of the drive, if you can believe it, is just pulling out of our driveway onto the state highway. On these foggy days it takes a leap of faith to enter a 55 mph thoroughfare, especially when the visibility is oblivion beyond three car lengths. My gripe? Drivers who rush headlong through the fog with their headlights off, and as always seems to be the case, their cars are white, silver… or fog-colored. They come in darkness, looming out of the fog like ghosts, ghosts that move at a spectral speed of fifty-five miles an hour as if it were July, midday. They are a road liability, those drivers. You know they are out there somewhere and so before you roll onto the highway, you crank down your windows, peer into the wall of gray, listen, say a brief prayer, and timidly venture forth, stressed out before you’ve left your own driveway.

You know, when you think about it, they’re downright disrespectful—rude, even—these drivers, who oblivious to the safety of others--and themselves--hurtle down the highway as nonchalantly as if they were piloting a stealth bomber. Flash your lights at them. Go ahead. Do it. Glance in the rearview mirror. Have they illuminated themselves? No. No one is going to tell THEM how to drive; “I don’t care if I kill you, kill myself, drive willy-nilly into a ten car pileup down the road…nobody’s going to tell ME how to drive. Mind your own business, won’tcha ?” That’s their mindset. An oncoming car flashes its lights at me and I’m grateful; not only does the act warn me of a potential hazard ahead, but also tells me the driver isn’t just thinking of his own safety but the other guy’s, as well.

Years back we hired a zany lady to paint the inside of the house. Just a wisp of a thing, all bone and gristle, she looked like she walked right off the front of a Leaning Tree greeting card, replete with cigarette dangling from her mouth, downwind eye asquint dodging the smoke. She had a bumper sticker on her car with the words: “Visualize World Peace…Hell! Visualize your Turn Signal!” To you witless drivers who rush about in the fog I say, “Visualize your headlight switch so I can visualize you.” Let’s visualize each other, shall we?foggy morning

So if I happened to win the Washington State Lottery, how would I use my winnings? Not purchase my own diesel locomotive, nor a life size slot car complete with track. Nothing that extreme. No, I would have a stoplight installed on the state highway where our driveway intersects. I’d use it only on foggy mornings. I promise….

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  1. Having grown up in Ireland, I can appreciate how dense fog can be. I remember wading through fat rolls of fog to find my car on Irish autumn mornings. Putting on my car's fog lights was frequently needed when driving in Ireland. I too often shake my head when drivers in my home state of Kentucky fail to put on their lights on foggy mornings.

    1. Mairead, there's something about drivers and their cars, a sense of autonomy when they're driving; the car is their castle, a citadel they rule. In spite of frequent news reports about horrific freeway pileups cause by thick fog or dust, many drivers fail to consider road conditions and don't drive accordingly. Florida has a law that states when it rains, drivers must turn on their lights. One would think the same should apply to fog driving. Regardless of fog, dust or smoke, during the day I always drive with my headlights on...just one more way to be visible to the other driver. Many car manufacturers now produce models whose headlights come on automatically when the engine starts, go off when the engine is shut down. This, I think, is a good safety feature, especially on days of fog, rain and low visibility.

      "Fat rolls of fog": a good phrase...reminds me of liposuction. Thanks for reading....TMJ