Biff America: Speed sometimes does matter |

Biff America: Speed sometimes does matter

by Jeffrey Bergeron

Probably for the ten-thousandth time since we’ve been a couple Ellen told me to, “Go faster!”

And for just as many times my reply was, “I am going as fast as I can.”

I would venture to guess that, as a couple, we are unique in that respect; most men drive faster, not more slowly, than their wives would like.

To be clear I mostly obey the speed limit. Admittedly, while piloting our RV I will sometimes go more slowly than allowed, but I also look for places to pull over so faster vehicles can pass.

But on that day there was no place to pull over, and other vehicles were in front of me.

But despite all that, the bonehead driving that Honda, with the mountain-bike on the roof, was tailgating me.

It’s not often I’m allowed to drive my wife’s new car. Mostly I’m relegated to my bicycle or motor scooter, but we were on our way to the gas station so she graciously allowed me to drive and pay.

“Will you look at how close that guy is to our back bumper,” I said.

Instinctively, Ellen gave the “Go faster” request. When I pointed out there were cars in front of me going my exact speed, Ellen did acknowledge that the person following was too close.

I’ve never succumbed to road rage, though I’m far from a perfect driver. Like everyone, I will occasionally do careless things behind the wheel, and when that happens I wave apologetically. Moreover, when I encounter someone is driving foolishly or aggressively I just try to stay safe and out of their way. That is not to say I don’t say to myself and to anyone else in the car, “Look at that guy, what an #$$%^#^”

We both were a little disappointed that someone who shared our passion for mountain biking (the car had a really nice bike on the roof) could be so discourteous. The good news was, if worse came to worse, nothing serious could happen at 25 mph, but just to be safe Ellen suggested I pull over at Mountain Outfitters and buy her some new running shoes.

When I saw a parking spot ahead on the right I signaled and pulled into it. As the Honda sped past both of us turned to see what the person, who had been driving like a nut, looked like.

The car passed, and we both simultaneously said, “Oh my God, it’s Gretchen!”

The windows of Gretchen car were open and we could hear Jack Johnson on her stereo. Her head was bopping, and she wore a blissful smile. Ellie and I both yelled, but the music was up so high she did not respond; obviously she didn’t recognize Ellen’s new car.

For the rest of our drive, Ellen and I were laughing at Gretchen and the look on her face as she blissfully grooved to Johnson. We reminisced about the time she was dancing so energetically down front at a concert that the band invited her up on stage. We joked that she had probably ridden her bike long and hard that day and she was more than likely late for work and thus tailgated unknowingly. I called her on her cell phone and left the message that she needs to stop driving like a crazy woman and turn down her stereo.

After I filled Ellen’s tank and bought her a new running shoes, she offered to repay me by spotting me a cup of coffee.

We sat in the shade on a deck watching the world pass by, still having a few laughs over our Gretchen encounter. We envisioned her sprinting into work, wet hair, tired legs after cutting her fun time so close. We both recalled when we worked in the service industry and how we, too, would fill our days to the brim before having to climb stairs, haul food and smile at the tourists.

It wasn’t until our coffee was finished and I got up to pay (Ellen forgot her money) that it dawned on us that as soon as we realized that we knew and liked the tailgater, she was no longer a tailgater but just person distracted and late for work. Once we were able to put ourselves in her position, her driving wasn’t personal – it was comical.

I learned two things that day – forgiveness is often a product of familiarity.

And secondly: Before you leave home – make sure your mate has her wallet.

Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or from

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