The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 22, 2013

Mike Pound: Maybe it’s safer just staying in Missouri

I realize that everyone thinks the people living in other states are lousy drivers.

Kansas drivers think Missouri drivers are crazy. Oklahoma drivers think Kansas drivers are crazy, and everyone thinks Glenn Beck is crazy.

The truth is that most states are pretty equal when it comes to their good driver-bad driver ratios. I think we just notice bad drivers more when we’re driving in a different state.

So, just because the following event occurred in Oklahoma does not mean that I think Oklahoma drivers are crazy.

I just think happen to think that one Oklahoma driver is crazy.

On Sunday morning, my wife, our 15-year-old daughter, Emma, and I were traveling to Tulsa, Okla., for one of Emma’s dance competitions.

I was driving. My wife was sitting next to me talking about something, and Emma was in the back seat freaking out about the dance competition. It always amazes me that Emma still freaks out about dance competitions because she has been taking part in them since she was in fourth grade. But, I always tell Emma that it’s good that she freaks out.

“You know Emma, Bill ...,” I start to say.

“I know, I know, Dad. Bill Russell, the greatest basketball player to ever play the game, used to get so nervous before every game he would throw up,” Emma says in a bored monotone.

“Oh, have I told you that before?” I ask.

Emma doesn’t answer me, as she is too busy freaking out.

We were on the Will Rogers Turnpike, which, it seems to me, is always undergoing some sort of construction or destruction. Behind us were Emma’s dance friend Sara and her mother, Debbie.

The speed limit on the Will Rogers Turnpike is, I think, 110 mph. Sure, the signs say the speed limit is 75 mph, but I’m pretty sure that is more of a suggestion than an actual limit.

I was going about 77 mph, which meant I was routinely passed by old people in Buicks. That was OK with me, since I figured 77 mph was fast enough.

We were somewhere between Miami and Big Cabin. I was in the left lane preparing to pass a slow-moving semi when the driver of the truck turned on his signal and pulled in front of me into the same lane. The driver did that because there was an even slower semi in the right lane that he wanted to pass.

The slower-moving truck was going about 65 mph, and the truck in front of me apparently wanted to go 66 mph.

By the way, I have nothing against semis. I know truckers pretty much drive (ha!) our economy. Every day, they bring us food, water and even more important stuff such as beer.

But in this case, it seemed like it took forever.

As I slowly followed the truck in front of me, I could see Debbie and Sara’s car behind me, and behind them I could see a long line of cars. Suddenly, I saw a white pickup truck in the right lane traveling at roughly 120 mph. I wondered where the guy in the pickup truck thought he was going to go, what with there being a semi going 65 mph in front of him.

Then I stopped wondering.

“That (bad word) is going to pass on the shoulder,” I said to my wife.

Sure enough, that’s what he did. He went zooming past me, swerved onto the shoulder and raced past the slow-moving truck. When he passed the truck, he swerved back into the lane, barely managing to avoid a bridge railing that was in front of him and that I am certain the (bad word) didn’t know was there.

I’m never leaving Missouri again.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

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