Thursday, March 10, 2005

Logos in the Wind

When I first started piloting news cars, I thought the logos on the doors were a license to speed. So I did - whether it be to breaking news or to a Wendy's drive-thru. Only after a sustained slew of high-dollar tickets did I begin to rethink my leadfoot ways. That, and a few kitchen table guilt trips from the Missus. Now I travel at a much more reasonable pace, though I am something of a tailgater. But I'm working on it.

I once thought Johnny Law would leave us speeding newsmen alone, seeing as how we're so important and all. But then radar-bearing officers from every agency under the sun pulled me over for impromptu counseling sessions. Not all of them gave me tickets, but most did. Still - I forged ahead at breakneck pace, marveling at how no vehicle was more fun to abuse than a dogged-out station car.

I even totaled a brand new Chevy Blazer once, thanks to my high-speed proclivities. It was a rainy Saturday in Greenville, I was following a station wagon too close and too fast when it hit the brakes. I had time to brake myself, but having just watched a Smokey and the Bandit marathon on cable, I swerved right and punched it. That maneuver sent me skidding into a gravel filled parking lot, where I slammed into the backside of a Piggly Wiggly supermarket.


When the dust settled, my passenger, a much-reviled reporter who will remain nameless (rhymes with ’weight’ - starts with ’Sp’) promptly lost what little cool he had. Hearing the splatter of liquid hitting the pavement beneath us, he shimmied out the shotgun door window and ran away screaming like the little girl I always knew him to be. (I suppose he thought it was going to blow sky-high like in all those earnest A-Team documentaries).

A bit dazed myself, I crawled out and looked underneath my crumpled chariot. Blue antifreeze hissed and sizzled as it poured out of the busted radiator. Chuckling a bit through sore ribs, I motioned him back towards the accordioned vehicle. He was rather vexed at me, and had every right to be. He was even more pissed the next week when I was named employee of the month, an honor that had far more to do with my work ethic than my driving skills.

Finally, a hefty speeding ticket sent me scurrying to a lawyer’s office. When the greasy litigator stepped from behind his desk and unfurled my driving record, I knew I had to slow down. The unfolded sheath of computer print-out stretched from floor to ceiling. Immediately I made a solemn vow to slow down, if not for my personal safety then for the forest of trees I was killing with my lengthy trail of printed infractions. It was all I could do not to beg forgiveness from the Gods of Unneeded Acceleration as I cut a rather sizable check to the discount attorney.

That was easily a dozen years ago, and while I probably won’t win any Triple A courteous driver awards, I steer my shiny news ride with a lot more forethought than I used to do. Come to think of it though, I never did get a good look at the list of tickets that lawyer so dramatically presented to me that day. For all I know, it was a rundown of lawsuits threatened by his many wronged clients. Oh well, at least it slowed me down. Now GET OUT OF THE FAST LANE YOU *&$@#&^%, I GOTTA RIBBON CUTTING TO TELEVISE !!!!!!!!!!

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