Dear Dr. Gridlock:
My wife, son and brother decided a few nights ago to enjoy the drive through the holiday lights at Seneca Creek State Park in Montgomery County.
The lights were wonderful, and we were enjoying the fact that only four drivers seemed to have had the same idea that night. Our car was second in this "convoy" of four vehicles. The car in front was naturally going slowly to appreciate some of the fantastic displays.
Imagine our surprise when, at every big display point, as the lead car slowed down, the driver behind us would lay on his horn as if it were Monday morning on the Beltway!
One wonders why, if you are in a hurry, you would embark on an obviously slow and meandering trip, never mind the feeling he created of unseasonable bad cheer.
I suggest a new holiday prize: the biggest Grinch on the road. Can anyone better mine?
I doubt it. Who honks at drivers enjoying holiday lights? Is this what life has come to?
I hope you quickly pulled to the right and stopped, allowing the fruitcake to pass you by and then rested for a couple of minutes until he was out of sight.
I'll take holiday season Grinch nominations, but this will be hard to top (I hope). Meanwhile, for the flip side of the coin, please read on.
One Very Good Samaritan
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Mine has to be the best good Samaritan ever; I can't resist telling you about her.
When I moved to Frederick from Pensacola, Fla., I drove up in an old camper with my cat. Near Birmingham, my vehicle died. It was a Saturday night, dark and cold. I didn't know what else to do, so I walked to the nearest exit, which, it turned out, had no services or even houses.
A car stopped. In it was a woman offering help. She had seen me walking on the interstate, gone to the next exit, turned around and come back to find me.
She drove me back to my camper and called for a tow truck. Then we loaded my clothes, cat, cat box, cat food and dishes into her brand new Mercedes and led the tow truck to her local garage, where we had to leave my vehicle until the garage opened on Monday.
Then she drove me to the airport so I could rent a car and led me around until she found a motel with a vacancy. She wouldn't leave me until she had helped me carry all my stuff into the room, including sneaking in the cat and her paraphernalia. All this took over four hours.
I sent her a big flower arrangement as a small token of thanks, and we still keep in touch. I also bought a cell phone as soon as I got to Frederick; I keep it in the car solely for emergencies, since I don't think I could ever be lucky enough to find another good Samaritan like her.
Barbara J. Gordon
An extraordinary tale. Thanks for sharing it. Often, when someone goes out of their way like this, they'll simply ask that the recipient pass the favor along to another person in need.
Fortunately, there are more Samaritans out there than Grinches. Aren't there?
Crucial Snow Removal Job
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I hope you can use a small portion of your column to conduct a valuable and necessary public service: Please remind motorists to completely remove snow from their vehicle rooftops.
Trucks, SUVs and minivans seem to be the worst culprits, probably because their roofs are so high. A stepping stool and broom can fix the problem.
Include in this request clearing off the rest of the vehicle. Flying ice chunks can cause damage to trailing vehicles, sometimes resulting in accidents and injuries.
New Year's Resolutions As the year draws to a close, Dr. Gridlock welcomes your New Year's resolutions for local transportation officials and fellow commuters. Two samples follow.
* Resolved: That local officials will place easy-to-read street signs at all intersections with traffic lights.
* Resolved: That motorists involved in fender-bender accidents (no injuries) will move their vehicles, so traffic can get by. This applies to police cruisers, too.
Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.
You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers e-mails at email@example.com or faxes at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town and phone numbers.