Like most people on the left half of the New World, driving has informed and constrained and enriched my adult life. I’ve enjoyed it. Indications are that mine will be one of the last drive-everywhere generations. The shape the tribe settles into may be more pleasing, and strengthening local culture is a fine thing, but the loss of the time-behind-the-wheel, with the music playing, going places, well, it’s sad.
One time years ago I even wrote a terribly long (pages and pages) poem about driving; here’s the beginning:
To walk is best of course. And I
would rather drive than fly. Would turn
Earth's curve beneath my tires. Would burn
Earth's blackened past in engine fires;
burn time that space is measured by
from edge of map to edge of sky.
Now? Now, we’re looking at $100 fill-ups, and quite a few of those hundreds of bucks are definitely becoming Part Of The Problem: propping up degenerate fanatic-financing autocrats, creating an environmental holocaust here in Canada; not much of it is good.
Driving, you know, it brings on the highs and lows. I’ve had a couple of intense experiences just these last couple of days.
Takedown! · I was heading up Oak Street, a major north-south route that is notable for eventually, in a southerly direction, joining Route 5 and taking you to Tijuana if you want to go.
I made what I thought was a deft little lane change to get around some slow movers and this previously-unseen cop car hopped in front of me and slammed on the brakes. I didn’t think I’d done anything illegal, was more puzzled than worried, but then the cruiser and a paddy-wagon did a quick lane swap; the wagon halted and this cop leapt out, banged on my window, barked “Stop right there!”, turned back and whipped out his gun as he jumped up on his running board.
Then I saw they’d pulled over this shiny new Caddy and there were other squad cars screeching in from all directions, gun-waving officers leaping out. I was fortunate, the very first car with a front-row view. I suppose there must have been thirty or forty blocks of traffic jam behind me by the time the dust-up was over.
Vancouver has gang issues, you read about this kind of thing, so right away I hunkered down with my head below the windows, wondering how efficient auto bodies are at stopping bullets. In a bit, hearing only the barking of the police bullhorn, I sat up, with the camera ready of course; if the shots look blurry that’s the non-too-clean car windows.
The cops totally had their procedures down; I was impressed. They wanted everyone in the car to hold their hands out the windows, then they got ’em out one by one, had each one do a 360º and then back toward the paddy wagon.
There were five people in the car. They came from two different ethnic groups; the dozen or so cops on the scene featured four, so the whole thing was very Vancouver. The 5 in the car were two girl-next-door types, one ugly male skinhead, and two dudes who were seriously trying to look like heavy mobsters. I dunno, maybe they’re upstanding but misunderstood citizens. But those cops sure looked tense.
Civilization · The other day I drove to my office. This is a rarity, and silly, because it’s only five blocks from home; but I had to run, mid-day, from a telecon to an appointment with really tight timing. Anyhow, in the course of the ninety-second-or-so drive, there were three incidents of the kind common on narrow streets in civilized places; two cars approach a corner or each other, slowing, and one driver performs that hand-wave that everybody knows means “I may have the right of way but, come on through.”
It’s such a small thing, but I climbed the office stairs with a smile on my face.
Driving everywhere, I’ll miss it.