Thursday, August 08, 2013

the most dangerous drive I've ever done

Tomorrow, I undertake the most dangerous drive I've ever driven. From Front Royal, it's exactly 45 miles to my tutoring center in Centreville, Virginia (which, up to now, I've referred to as YB Near). Most of that drive is along Route 66, a freeway on which many drivers—not just yours truly—like to go fast. To minimize the danger of the upcoming trip, I plan to drive under the speed limit (ye gods! can it be?) and only in the right lane so as to reduce the number of lane changes almost to zero. With luck, I'll survive the jaunt.

Why will tomorrow's drive be so dangerous? you belch. Because of the manner in which I stuffed the final three bookcases into my car. One bookcase in particular, a very tall one that doesn't break down into smaller pieces, takes up almost the entire interior length of my Honda Fit. My coworkers, who saw me deliver seven other large bookcases over the previous two days (Monday and Tuesday), have marveled at how much interior room my Fit has, and it does seem rather capacious, especially once I fold down the two rear passenger seats. My car could stow a dozen skinny pot-smokers; it might even hold three or four big, dead Kevins.

But back to that long bookcase. As I said, it takes up almost the entire interior length of the car, which means it juts so far forward that (1) I can no longer see anything out of my central rear-view mirror, and (2) I have no idea what's happening on my right-hand blind spot. This is precisely why I'll be driving in the rightmost lane: to prevent cars from sneaking up on my right. Being in the right lane sucks because it's also the merge lane for people coming onto the freeway, but in this case, if I have to decelerate to accommodate mergers, that very deceleration may actually be the safest option.

So: my two biggest safety precautions, given how little field of view I'm going to have, are (1) traveling slowly and (2) using the rightmost lane as much as I can. That ought to eliminate, or at least radically diminish, most of my driving risks. One risk remains, though:

La police.

What I've done, in stuffing my car so full of bookshelves, is questionably legal at best. I'm pretty sure that, in the eyes of the law, I represent a significant road hazard. Never mind that I can still see both of my lateral rear-view mirrors—the fact remains that I'm blind directly aft and across most of my starboard field of view. Getting all those bookcases into my car tonight felt like a moral victory, but will it have been worth it if I get pulled over by Statey? I'm actually more worried about being pulled over than I am about crashing and dying a horrible death. I'm hoping, though, that if I do get pulled over, I won't be ticketed: instead, I'll be let off with a warning after I plead my case. The true nightmare, though, would be to be pulled over a second goddamn time. To forestall that eventuality, I'll need to ask the first police officer whether he can give me some sort of writ to hand to the second police officer—something along the lines of "Already been pulled over. Let off with warning. May I continue on my way?"

Normally, the 45-mile trip to Centreville from Front Royal takes me about 43 minutes. That's at an average freeway speed of over 80 miles per hour. This summer, because we open at 9AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I've had to contend with rush-hour traffic, which delays me about 20 minutes. Tomorrow morning, I'll be driving even more slowly than usual, so we can add another 10-15 minutes to my travel time. So, as you might guess, I'm planning to leave the apartment early. Cross your fingers and tentacles for me, and let's make a negative wish list: no getting pulled over, and no fiery death-crashes.



Charles said...

You forgot the risk of heart attack from driving so slowly on the freeway.

Kevin Kim said...

Yes, I suppose the risk of heart attack goes up the more geriatrically you drive.