Among my favorite “Seinfeld” scenes is one in which Kramer tries to smoke a cigar in a coffee shop, where the burly, intimidating manager walks over and says, “Hey! Take it outside.”
“Come on, Larry, you know me!” Kramer pleads.
“It bothers people, and it’s against the law,” the manager insists.
“You can make all the laws you want,” Jerry says, “he’s still going to bother people.”
You can use that line a lot, these days, in varying contexts.
The other day I was behind a tractor-trailer traveling north on Highway 431 South approaching Fifth Street South, which goes east and west.
A car turning east off 431 South onto Fifth Street South cut across the highway right in front of the truck. Luckily the lane next to the truck was empty, so the trucker had room to swerve to miss the car.
And then, for a millisecond or three, the trailer part of the tractor-trailer fishtailed like a tadpole, before the driver got it straight and just kept truckin’ on.
This was Friday evening, so most of the ice and snow had melted, on our major thoroughfares. Had it not, that car would have been canned, because the truck would have had no traction.
Now, in no way am I qualified to lecture on responsible driving, as I have wrecked more moving vehicles than I can recall, starting with the 10-speed bike off which I was catapulted when it hit a stump hole in top gear, breaking my clavicle, and then the minibike I turned over and somehow set afire, and then I broke some side rig you hook to a flatbed truck to scoop hay bales off a field, and ….
OK, forget the rest. Anyway, one thing I do know is this: A speeding vehicle the size of a yacht needs room to change course, and a few feet usually is insufficient.
It’s even less sufficient on an inch of snow. So, when authorities warned local motorists last week that the roads were frozen and they couldn’t drive crazy, I thought, “You can freeze all the roads you want, they’re still going to drive crazy.”
Long ago, like back in 1973 when I was a child wrecking small vehicles, it snowed. And snowed and snowed and snowed. We barely made it home from school, and did not go back for days.
We had a blast, throwing snowballs and sledding down a hill on a Frisbee-shaped Coke sign borrowed from a nearby store, racing out of control toward Highway 431 South at the bottom of the run.
Here’s a safety tip about that: People desperately trying to get to Florida through a foot of snow do NOT like snowballs hitting the passenger-side windows of their car. They sneer and say bad words you would hear were their windows not tightly shut and their heaters blasting like a coal furnace. We’re lucky everyone didn’t carry a gun back then.
I still think of that magical time, when it snows, but not for long.
The first thing that comes to mind, when I drag my shivering butt out of bed, part the drapes and see a blanket of snow, is not some childhood memory of snowballing tourists or sledding into traffic, nor do I hear romantic winter music like “Lara’s Theme” from the movie “Dr. Zhivago.”
I think, “Oh … $#!%! They’d better be shutting everything down.”
And you know why: People here can’t drive. In snow. It’s like holding a demolition derby in an ice rink.
But we don’t need bad weather to see bad driving. Neither rain, nor ice, nor snow, shall stop some folks from driving just like they do when no rain, nor ice, nor snow is on the road.
You can freeze all the roads you want, they’re still going to drive crazy.