What a way to start a trip! After three years of planning, I finally started my big cross-country road trip on Friday, September 7. However, I didn’t even get to the end of my own street—maybe 45 seconds’ worth of driving—before a near-disaster almost ruined everything.
As I approached the first intersection with a stop sign, a white pickup truck from a local cable provider turned into the street from the opposite direction, then immediately swung into a nearby driveway to execute a 3-point turnaround. Obviously in a big hurry, the driver never looked before shifting into reverse and backing out onto the street, directly into my path. Either my horn or the sound of my squealing tires got his attention, and he stopped just short of backing into the side of my restored Mustang.
What really irritated me was not his carelessness, but his attitude about the near-crash. The position of my convertible blocked him from backing completely out of the driveway; and rather than making an apologetic gesture or excuse-me signal from his seat, he impatiently waved for me to get out of his way.
I rolled down my window and yelled a couple of choice descriptions about his feeblemindedness, which he confirmed by continuing to gesture at me to move.
The rest of the trip to Jacksonville was uneventful. I enjoyed the next day’s Wings-N-Wheels air show/classic car show at Craig Municipal Airport, and on Sunday, September 9, I began the 1100-mile trip to Pennsylvania. After overnight stops in Blythewood, SC and Harrisonburg, VA, I had another encounter with a white pickup.
While heading north on I-81 on Tuesday, Sept. 11, I noticed a pair of highway maintenance trucks parked on the left shoulder. Orange warning lights flashed from big panels on the rear of both trucks. Over on the right, an on-ramp merged with the northbound lanes. Just as I approached the ramp, two pickup trucks began to merge from the right, so I moved over into the passing lane. However, as I came abreast of the second pickup—a white one—it began sliding over into my lane in order to pass the truck in front. I laid on the horn but the driver never glanced over, just kept crowding into my lane. I had to hit the brakes and swerve to avoid being side-swiped at almost 70 mph. In fact the white pickup ran me off the road. Both of my left wheels were in the grassy shoulder, and those two parked maintenance trucks were coming up fast. The only thing that prevented a bad crash was the pickup driver’s haste. He swept around the slower pickup so fast that I had room to wrestle my car back onto the passing lane before hitting the parked vehicles. I noticed then that the slower pickup had dramatically decreased speed and was far to the right in the opposite shoulder—apparently the white pickup had run us both off the road!
I always drive extra-defensively in my 45-year-old Mustang, which has already helped me avoid two potential mishaps at the beginning of my weeks-long journey. If such incidents truly happen in threes, as the old wives’ tale suggests, then I’ll have at least one more encounter with a terrible driver.
If the vehicle happens to be another white pickup, I’ll be convinced that something just a little bit unusual is going on.