December 13, 2010

Winter Driving -- To Suffer Fools Lightly

To negotiate winter roads in St. Catharine's -- or Ontario in general -- requires a twofold method: patience and the ability to suffer fools lightly.

And they seem to come out in spades when visibility is at a minimum.

En route to the house today, minus ten degrees Celsius and a wind crying havoc across open fields.

I take my time because:
     a) unlike the rest of Ontario, I drive a piddly-ass Hyundai Elantra with front-wheel drive and
     b) winter tires or not, a tap of the brakes and the car slides with the lugubrious effect of a fat kid on a water slide.

Behind me, brights flashing, an over-sized truck growling its driver's small-penis syndrome. He rides up to my bumper -- close enough to see the car seat, I'm sure. No honking or shaking of fists; only the constant pressure of some dude dissatisfied with the speed limit on a wind-blown rural road in winter.

Maybe patience and suffering fools lightly are one and the same. Or one's ability of the latter stems from an effort toward the former. The patience I'm referring to is not the sort that usually leads to personal payoff. It's more arrogant, a breath of superiority found in knowing you (for the moment) are taking the higher road (pun intended).

And I wasn't. In fact, I let off the gas a little. I mean, if our proximity is going to be so close, why not get to know each other? Didn't go over well. The truck blasts past, the double-yellow line arguably dotted with all the snow on the road. The drive suddenly quiet.

Like anywhere -- save for maybe my home town -- everyone has to get somewhere in a hurry. In winter, it means charging down gritty, saline-sogged roads. What's surprising is how aggression levels in driving (pdf) do not abate with difficult driving conditions.

I duck out of the snow for a moment to hit up a coffee shop. Fifteen minutes later, back on the road, I pass a scene. An overturned vehicle in a ditch, headlights arcing the blue air. Cop cars and tow trucks. The long wait of single-lane traffic.

The vehicle too buried and wrinkled to be identifiable. But I like to think I recognized it.


Anonymous said...

If you had been in the Czech Republic, this would've happened:

Count yourself lucky!

Harry Tournemille said...

Crazy! Can't believe nobody was hurt in that.

And for the record, I was doing the speed limit.