Thursday, September 5, 2013

In tatters

Driving up to Maine on the Turnpike yesterday morning, I noticed in my rear-view mirror that a pickup truck was overtaking me in the left lane. This is not news: since I started driving at the speed limit a couple of years ago, almost everybody overtakes me. Indeed, it's news when I overtake someone. The truck itself was news, however. Big and completely black, including the windows, it was hiked up on four double-sets of large tires and looked like it wanted to go a lot faster than 75. I strained to see the words plastered across the top of the windshield like a beetle-brow, but reading backwards in the mirror is one of the skills I've lost to advancing age and I had to wait until the truck was past before the identical phrase become visible on the back bumper: Maine Turbo Diesels. Indeed.

But the words painted on the side, conveniently at eye-level as I was passed, were the interesting ones.

"My truck cancels out your hybrid."

Since I don't drive a hybrid, I didn't take this personally. I suppose I should have, since my little Civic was getting 50.4 miles per gallon so far on the trip, according to the calculations of Average Fuel on the dashboard, but clearly the statement bore no relation to logic, and was merely a typical aggressive strike of the abstract kind, assuming the fellow inside was referring to gas mileage in the first place. Apparently, it's somehow American to burn up as much gas as possible.

(The feeling of the great widening divide in this society was reinforced later by the evening news; this summer's huge car sales are being driven by sub-compacts and large pick-ups.)

I wasn't able to see the fellow inside (darkened windows, great height) to confirm any other stereotypes, although it was somehow satisfying when he left the Turnpike at the Old Orchard Beach exit (maybe there's a honky-tonk bar there whose bouncer throws you out if you get more than 10 mpg.). He's probably a good family man, life of the party, etc. He's certainly a patriot, for exactly in the middle of the bed of his truck he had planted a big American flog, which was slowly being tattered to death by the keening wind.

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