the monster on the highway

My morning commute is normally pretty quiet – it’s 30 minutes of back roads followed by 15 or so minutes on I-91 North. I get to work by 7:30am, and the general population of the highway in the 7-730 timeframe consists mainly of commuters – mostly cars, but some trucks as well. At one point during my stretch of highway, the diamond lane ends and becomes just another lane of traffic. Normally I slide over there when it opens up – for some reason, people’s tribal mentality extends even to driving, and cars just FLOCK together on the highway rather than spreading out. I have never understood this, but the opening of the left lane gives me a good chance to escape it.

This morning, though, was different. In the commuter lane was this red jeep with New York plates – and I can say red only because a little bit of the paint was visible. It was otherwise crusted with reddish-brown dirt that looked like it had been mud pretty recently – the passenger-side windows were covered in it, the passenger-side mirror was pretty crusted up, the tires weren’t tire-colored at all. Even the back was mostly covered in mud. The back bumper was falling off, whether under the weight of the dirt or from hitting something I couldn’t tell, but it was waggling away behind the vehicle as it screamed up the highway.

And it was screaming. Well, growling. Normally the commuter experience is one of faceless cars, drivers making their sleepy way to another day at work. Except in the case of trucks or older cars, generally it’s pretty quiet. But this jeep just dominated the morning with its noise. It stayed in the left lane going about 80 miles an hour; my own car, behind it and in the next lane to the right, got peppered with the flecks of dried mud and tiny rocks that this jeep was flinging away behind it.

The car in front of me seemed to be getting the same thing, and they hit the gas to try to pass the jeep and avoid any more of the dirt barrage. That’s when the noise really let loose – the jeep would not let any other vehicle pass it. Every time one tried, the driver hit the gas, the jeep roared and shot ahead. It looked like it had done some hard time over rugged terrain and was a couple more trips away from falling apart, so having this happen in front of me made me particularly nervous, I don’t mind admitting.

The front of my car doesn’t look like it took any lasting damage from rocks or flying dirt, and I got to work safely, which means I can now sit here for 8 or so hours and try to get something useful done amid a barrage of a different kind.

I hope you’re doing something fun while I’m stuck in the office today! ^_^

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