"Lunatic" - the word derives from the Latin word "luna", meaning moon, and stems from an ancient belief that certain people are driven insane by the presence of a full moon.
We were still two days away from a full moon Wednesday afternoon, so how to explain the two lunatics I saw who were driving insane within about a five minute span around 3:05 p.m. on the 401 eastbound, between the DVP and Kennedy Road?
They were both in white vans. Co-incidence? Who knows?
The first was in a Kia Sedona minivan. I could see him - I think it was a male; hard to tell these days with heavily-tinted windows - coming behind me, weaving in and out of various lanes, cutting off other largely-unsuspecting drivers, making a complete - um, human exhaust emissions outlet port of himself.
He eventually took the collector lanes, and I lost sight of him.
Seconds later, there was another white minivan on my tail, this time a Pontiac Aztek. Again it was hard to tell, but it might even have been a female driver. I'll assume so, for the sake of pronoun consistency.
She was so close to my rear bumper that not only could I not see her front bumper in my rear view mirror, I couldn't even see her hood. She couldn't have been more than a metre away.
Regular readers know I always drive in the right-most lane whenever possible, not just because it is the "Jim-Only" lane, but because it is the lane that safety, courtesy, and the law demand that you drive in.
But at this particular moment, I was in the left-most lane, passing other cars.
It wasn't as if I was exactly hanging around blocking traffic. It was pretty busy, all lanes pretty solid, although moving well at around the "real" speed limit (a buck-twenty).
Yes, there were a few car lengths of space ahead of me - I had to leave room not only for myself in case I had to brake, but room for this idiot behind me too.
My habit is always to let these jerks go on ahead and have their crash with somebody else, but again, there was no room to my right to pull over safely. Besides, where was she going to go?
As it turns out, traffic did start to slow, and I had to brake. Again I did as I always do in cases like this - tapped the brake pedal to light up my brake lights, but kept my foot on the accelerator in case she didn't slow down in time and I had to prevent her from ramming in to me.
When she saw the brake lights she stabbed at her brakes - I could see the nose of her Aztek dip (with a nose like the Aztek's, it's hard to miss) and she swerved onto the shoulder, afraid she would in fact hit me.
Would you not think this might serve as a wake-up call to this driver?
As soon as traffic returned to normal speed, there she was, a metre off my tail again.
What goes through people's minds who drive like this?
Not much, apparently.
I was in a brand-new BMW. Did she really think her brakes were likely to be better than mine?
I somewhat uncharitably thought - well if I drove an Aztek, I might want to get the heck off the highway as quickly as possible too, before anybody recognized me.
But seriously: did she have a sick child in the car? Did she have to pee? Was she late for work? Or a nails appointment?
What could possibly be important enough that running a very substantial risk of having a serious crash at a pretty high speed made any sense whatsoever, to gain at most a few seconds to her destination?
She eventually cut somebody off on the right, and rocketed on down the road.
Where are Julian Fantino's troopers when you need them?
DGMS - Don't Get Me Started.
Then I thought, somewhat immodestly, that it was a good job it was me she was tailgating. An awful lot of drivers would have responded to her aggressiveness with more of their own, which would very likely have escalated it into a potential tragedy, as so often happens on our roads these days.
What, my too-fertile imagination then wondered, if she had tried to pull this stunt on her fellow human exhaust emissions outlet port in the white Kia Sedona?
Sometimes I think it is a minor miracle that any of us get home alive.