Treating other drivers the way they are tagged: out of state
The saying goes that if you want to understand another person you should walk a mile in his shoes. And, in a way, for the last two weeks I’ve been doing just that. I’ve placed myself, however, not in someone’s shoes but in his car. A car, I might add, with out-of-state license plates.Several weeks ago my wife Beverly and I borrowed her brother’s car while my truck is being repaired, and unfortunately it sports license plates from the state of Virginia. Normally, one wouldn’t think this would be a problem, after all, there are plenty of people from other areas of the country driving around the mountains during the ski season, but it is.I would never have guessed it, but it seems that as a matter of course, people in the High Country, when they believe you hail from out of state, are rude, mean and downright vulgar.The first time I slid behind the wheel of the car I wasn’t out on the road for more than a few miles before I was cut off, tailgated, flipped off, honked at and, in general, treated like a moron that didn’t belong in this state. How’s that for hospitality?The minute other drivers spot my license plates it’s like I have a target on my back. I might as well grab a hammer and smash out my turn signals, because if I use them, I’m guaranteed to get the freeze out from every other Colorado driver on the road. And forget the speed limit. I could be doing 100 mph up Hoosier Pass and there would still be someone behind me weaving and screaming as if I’m holding them up.I guess I should have known this was going to happen because I’ve seen it all before. I experienced this kind of treatment several years ago when I rented a car with East Coast plates.It didn’t take one day before we noticed the difference in the way we were treated. If I remember correctly, during that week, local police stopped my wife and me several times – we never got a ticket – for absolutely no reason.One officer even commented to my wife after one traffic stop that, “We don’t drive like that around here.”When my wife informed the gentleman that she’d probably lived in the High Country longer than he had, he backed off without further comment.To solve my recent car problems, I’ve thought about putting a sign in the rear window telling the world that I live here. I would like to explain that I’ve driven in the mountains for years and that I know how to maintain the speed limit on curves and up passes.I would like to assure the other drivers that I can pass safely and proficiently on two-lane roads and that I know how, better than most, to drive on ice and snow. But I’ve decided that I’m not going to give anyone a break. If other drivers surmise that I can’t operate a car just because of the tags on my vehicle, then who am I to change their minds.So, go ahead and tailgate me, cut me off, honk and curse. I know these roads better than most, and I plan to mess with plenty of heads.I’ll slow down through every curve, stomp on my brakes while pretending I’m looking at the scenery and in general drive like the moron people think I am.Then, just when some rude Coloradan is about ready to pop a gasket, I’ll leave him in the dust. And you can bet I’ll be smiling in my rearview mirror as I disappear into the sunset.Andrew Gmerek writes a Friday column. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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