It’s 4:40am on a brisk Wednesday morning as I blankly stare at the laptop screen, contemplating the wonders of jet lag that are insistently telling me it’s coffee o’clock despite all the evidence to the contrary.
This trip to the Land of the Free took in Ohio & Pennsylvania, briefly tickling through West Virginia on the way. Having covered US driving in some depth before, I wasn’t going to bother you lovely people with further thoughts on the matter, but my body clearly thinks I should be doing something and the alternative is Doing Some Work.
So there I was, in the passenger seat, desperately gripping hold of a polythene bag that was covering the broken back window because it was about to come unstuck and land on the windscreen of the Dodge Charger police cruiser behind us on the freeway (this *is* normal, right? Other people find themselves in these situations too, right…?) and, being British, I was feeling rather paranoid and sheepish whenever another car passed on the near side. That’s when I noticed something odd. Pretty much everybody was doing something *else*, other than driving, and nobody batted an eyelid at my situation, or even seemed to notice.
Number one was on his phone. Number two was doing her lipstick. I’m not entirely sure what number three was trying to put in her mouth but she seemed to be *really* enjoying it.
As I continued watching I saw texting, dancing with both hands off the wheel, all kinds of fatty-carb-death being eaten, *reading a book* (I shit you not) and I think at one point there was something going on with midgets in an SUV but I might have got the wrong end of the stick on that one.
It’s kinda shocking at first, but then you realise this is just how it works. Nobody’s paying very much attention, but everybody *knows* that nobody’s paying very much attention and so they’re all subconsciously allowing for each other. No-one’s in a hurry. People dive off to their exits at the last moment, but they always look before they do it and as everyone’s doing almost exactly the same speed there’s very little chance of car-to-car contact. I bet if you look at the statistics, most accidents on freeways in that area will be caused either by an unexpected jam, or by a foreigner driving like they do in the M4 in rush hour, getting taken out by a last-minute-exiter who wasn’t expecting a dive up the inside. I’m guessing. But I bet it’s true.
Oh, and they have signs like this. You can’t help but smile when your road signs look like they come from musical theatre.
Apart from that, the only other surprise was a pleasing show of petrol-headitude from the population of Pittsburgh. There were a few beautifully turned-out classics on the street capturing my attention, most interesting being this very loud and stiff Aventador. Both this and the sweet Cobra were just idly parked in Market Square for everybody to gawp at. Love it.