Line One
Downshift
Amateur hour: Why does it take all kinds?
Part one of a two-part series

Bill Hudgins
Columnist

“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” contains the classic line – “There are two kinds of people in this world, those with loaded guns and those who dig … now dig!” I wish there were only two kinds of drivers, but sadly, there are many, many more.

I recently spent a couple days on an LTL run with my friend and ace gearjammer Rufus Sideswipe. The route took us from interstates to city streets to small town backroads, and as he drove, Rufus cataloged the different kinds of drivers we encountered.

He had so many different kinds that I lost track, but here and in the next issue of Land Line, are the ones I remember. If you have some you’d like to see mentioned in a future issue, e-mail me at billhudgins@earthlink.net and I’ll see if we can work them in.

Meanwhile, be on the lookout for:

Desperate housewives: These women drive older, smaller, higher mileage American sedans. She is usually a middle-aged daughter with one or more elderly parental passengers who keep up a distracting flow of chatter, criticism, debates about where to have lunch or stop for a bathroom break, and reminiscence about places they had lunch and stopped for bathroom breaks. Daughter dreams about letting them all go for a potty stop and peeling out.

The bumper sticker-decal addict: You know exactly where this driver comes down on every issue, where they’ve been on vacation, the kind of dog they own, where their kid goes to school and what’s their favorite radio station. Many of them also have antenna toppers and gewgaws on the rear window decks, as well as things dangling from their rearview mirrors. Those dents in their back bumpers are from people who got too close trying to read everything.

Rush-hour drivers: They call it rush hour, not because traffic moves fast, but because all these folks were in such a rush to leave the house they couldn’t eat, shave, tie their ties, apply makeup, return calls, write letters, read the paper, put on pantyhose, remember to use the turn signal or look when they change lanes. But at least most keep up with traffic, unlike the …

AARP-member-going-to-the doctor driver: Usually hits the streets right after morning rush hour for a 1 p.m. appointment. They drive well under the speed limit, although speed and course wander with their attention spans.
Some are married couples who favor immaculate large, late-model, low-mileage Buicks, Oldsmobiles, Caddies or Lincolns. He drives, she navigates and gestures, giving directions a quarter-mile too late because she was too busy criticizing his driving. The car’s weight, squishy suspension and sluggish handling add excitement to your day when he tries to whip across your lane to exit.

Suburban mom: She used to drive a minivan but gave it to Dad after he bought her an SUV or, worse, a Hummer. She puts more miles on her sport-ute than a P&D driver and makes twice as many stops. She’s always late and distracted, tailgates, and talks on her cell phone while haranguing her kids, who regard her in stony silence or are text-messaging their equally long-suffering friends. Mom’s feet rarely hit the ground – drive-thrus are her salvation. Just don’t get between her and a parking spot.

The “Cheers” driver: Rufus calls them that because they assume that everyone knows their name and also where they are going. They also tend to weave like they’ve had a few cold ones with Norm. Mostly older drivers, they don’t use turn signals. Why should they? Everyone knows they’re going to turn left in about five miles. Don’t try to pass them – they’re prone to panic and veer across the line. And don’t count on them to stop at a red light – those dern things change too fast for them to react. They’ve complained to the police but no one seems to listen.

The truck buff: There aren’t too many of these, but sometimes you find them. They still carry CB radios and are prone to jockey for position so they can check out a rack of lights or maybe a tag axle. They keep an eye on traffic so they can help big rig drivers merge, change lanes or exit, and use the CB to helpfully inform a driver (probably for the ninth time that morning) that one of their daytime running lights is burned out.

They want to make up for the poor treatment their fellow four-wheelers shower on America’s truckers.

Occasionally, they’re mistaken for a real hand, and that makes their day. Just for the record, I’m the one in the little silver sedan.

Until next time, be safe, make money and get home often.

Bill Hudgins may be reached at billhudgins@earthlink.net.

Aug/Sept Digital Edition