Traveler Alert: Cellular Phones on the Highway of Death

Traveler Alert: Cellular Phones on the Highway of Death

by LF (9/97)

Okay, so I'm driving up to my sister's place in Wake Forest, taking the only fairly-sane route up Falls of the Neuse, cradling a foam latex-wrapped PBR in my lap while trying to come up with interesting lines to use on the new software engineer from China hired on at my place of work, struggling to channel my filthy lust into acceptable single-syllable words (the broad could body-double for Michelle Yeoh, hence the extra effort). Anyway, I was attempting to keep up with this Mahogany-American that I'd picked up on back at the Hannaford by my apartment, who was tear-assing through traffic like a Congressional page pursued by the delegation from Massachusetts. He was driving a big white mid-70's Mercedes, and apparently intimately knew the length of his car to the half-foot. My kinda guy.

After Falls went from three lanes almost immediately down to one, I was trapped behind a Nissan Sentra driven by some scab engaged in an animated conversation on his cell phone. He was occasionally gesturing wildly with his available (steering) hand, so I dropped back a bit, waiting for one of the few short stretches of striped yellow line. We ran around a big turn, and there was my buddy, flashing his intention to turn left into a new development built next to a huge horse farm. No problem, since the right-hand side of the road widened out to permit the bypassing of stopped vehicles, a necessity thanks to the large number of tractors and the like that still travel there. But the pig-humper in the Sentra did not notice what was going on many football fields ahead of him, and instead locked up his brakes at the last moment and skidded to within a few feet of the Mercedes, jagging right so that the pass-around was blocked. I was forced to waste a little bit of valuable tread-life myself, and joined him in looking like an asshole. When he started off again I did not see the phone in his hand, so he probably dropped the damned thing.

Now, I swear that North Carolina has got to be one of the worst places to drive that I have ever experienced. Cleveland and Detroit have their share of brutal intersections purpose-built to get you killed. New York City and Boston are the stuff of legend, and Paramus, New Jersey, has not gotten the recognition it deserves (there seems to be some sort of interchange every 150 yards). But at least most of the folks in those towns can primarily be faulted for trying to get to their destinations in an insane hurry. A laudable goal, compared to the alternative.

This is the home of the rolling roadblock. My tormentor on the portable phone was only the newest addition to a sordid cast of infuriating characters:

What's makes this situation even more infuriating is that this is the land of NASCAR, where "King" Richard Petty makes his home. Speaking of the retired hot-rodder, some of you may remember that he lost his '96 bid for State Treasurer at least in part because shortly before the election he bumped some douchebag civilian that was blocking him in the fast portion of a four-lane. That news guaranteed him my vote. Hell, I would've voted for him twice if he'd clipped off the bastard's rear-view mirror with a 12-gauge deer slug.

Up the spout