How can one account for the connection between the weather, the time of day and the prevalence of roadway incivility?
Explainable or not, it’s indisputably a fact.
We’d gotten a late start on our circuit of necessary stops: grocery store, druggist, a stop for cat food, cleaners, a restaurant for a hasty bite.
With the skies low and gray, the only brightness was a sliver of orange sunset on the western horizon.
Then, in what seemed just an instant, the world went midnight dark.
Traffic was astonishingly heavy — every roadway an unbroken procession of lights. At each signal-controlled intersection, a block-long line of cars waited for the chance to proceed. Once moving again, they paused for nothing.
At side streets, motorists waited in vain for an opportunity to enter the flow. It was hopeless. Drivers who had somehow managed to join the procession at some earlier point were indisposed to yield a place.
My wife was at the wheel of our car. And she is not only capable and cautious. She’s also uncommonly courteous. And understanding that some people caught in the jam likely were embarking on errands of real urgency, she frequently slowed to allow them to proceed.
Often as not, that provoked a horn blast from behind.
And not infrequently, the complainer whipped recklessly around to make clear his impatience and possibly gain a car length.
At one point, where the road topped a considerable rise, a glittering panorama was spread ahead and below. Visible from that vantage was not just the north-south boulevard on which we’d been traveling, but also, crossing above it in greater volume and at much greater velocity, the urban interstate. It was less like a lighted stream than a mighty river — the Nile, say, or the Congo.
Thoroughly rattled, we turned toward home. And encountered then the last and in some ways the worst of the hazards. By that I mean the blindingly brilliant auto headlights that seem to have come into recent vogue.
Their purpose, I suppose, is to announce the extraordinary importance of those machines and the individuals at the wheel. Their actual effect, however, is to blind approaching motorists.
“Those damned lights make a case for fender-mounted cannons,” I sometimes grumble.
“That’s not a joke,” my wife and daughters say.
“No,” I reply, “and neither is driving blind.”
For more of C.W. Gusewelle, go to gusewelle.kansascity.com.