I was going to go on a long rant about driving, but I will hold that thought till I can compose something thoughtful, because its such a complex subject and I believe needs some serious attention in this area as well as the region. I’ve always told my kids that a car is a weapon. Use it responsibly. I take driving seriously but I’m also far from the best driver on the road. I listen to music too loud, sometimes play drums with one hand and have been guilt of driving while too tired. I used to deliver newspapers and can steer very well with my knees. But I don’t do that anymore. I never text and drive and I try to limit the use of the phone as much as possible and pull over if its something that needs thought. Yeah I can multitask like a SOB but driving and thinking about a complex problem on the job don’t match.
But two things happened yesterday that I guess provided some balance to being on the road. My job that pays the bills takes me to the heart of DC or Tyson’s Corner Va. and or now Ashburn Va. and on the rare occasion Springfield Va. Not the ideal commute for someone on the north end of Howard County but I know I’m far from alone with the throng of people all around me coming down 29 or 95 in the mornings and more impressively all trying to get home around the same time despite going in over a longer span of time. And no matter if you have done it for a few decades like some of us road warriors or just a year or two, it changes you because you can see the worst of people.
The way in was its normal madness. People of wildly different abilities and all different vehicle widths and lengths driving at a huge differential in speed in fairly heavy traffic in the dark. Yeah I leave the house between 5 and 5:30am on days I venture to the office. But this was an unusually bad morning. Tons of near misses, a rear end’er. The ride home in pre-rush and rush hour (by the time I reached Howard County) were just as bad if not worse with lots of crazy behavior.
As I entered Howard County from the southern end of Rt 29, I said enough is enough. I exited that at Rt 216 immediately. This if familiar territory. I grew up in Hammond village which is a stones throw up the road. As I headed out I was admiring all the new area of Maple Lawn. I thought about stopping and wandering around the shop/food area but even that seemed crowded so I proceeded on. As I pass the new (weren’t there when I grew up) elementary and high schools (Fulton/Reservoir) on the right it then begins to look like the area I remember. There is the turkey/cattle farm on the right. Some old homes of elementary, middle and high school friends. I found myself thinking if any of their parents were still around. But it was a much more relaxing ride. The same route I rode on the school bus in elementary at St Louis and to Clarksville middle. 216 to 108 and to school and back. So in between the old homes/farms there seemed to be a lot of new churches.
But I digress, as I entered Clarksville the traffic picked up again and there across the street is the snow plow getting ready for the evening ice storm. So I pulled off on Sheppard Lane where the photo of a partial fence and barn was shot. As I progressed to Folly Quarter road which I’m very familiar with also having come home that way from working in Columbia for a few decades I slowed and stopped on the side to photograph a field of geese. A woman in an SUV slowed and pulled up and stopped as I was walking towards the back of my car and asked if I was OK. I got to tell you that little gesture restored some hope for the other drivers on the road and showed that Howard County helpful nature. Yeah, we got a lot of selfish SOB’s also. No place is immune from them. But we got our share of good people also. And as I did when she stopped, I’ll express my thanks again today. I’m sorry I wasn’t quick thinking enough to snap a photo of you and get your name. And I’d like to point out that this was a black woman a few decades younger than me. And I’m no helpless old man stuck on the side of the road. And it reminded me to also do my part and if I see someone on the side, to stop a minute and make sure they are OK and don’t need assistance. We shouldn’t take it for granted that everyone has a cell phone or someone to call.
Oh, and I apologize for rambling on. I’ve been up since 1am doing my full-time job. Time to go photograph the ice in the morning. Have a great day.