I have this friend, Scott, and we have much in common. Besides being marginal golfers, we also have a shared philosophy when it comes to driving on the parkway, being one should enjoy the commute. I don’t understand why anybody wouldn’t subscribe to this philosophy. The whole purpose of driving on the parkway is to relax. Just look at the word. It has the work park in it. But the main complaint people have with the parkway is the speed limit, which is 25 mph, which to most is the equivalent of still being in park. But isn’t that the point? If you want to go 40-50 mph, try a thoroughfare. If you want to go 60-70 mph, jump on the freeway. And if you feel a need to go above and beyond any of these speeds, there are always church parking lots.
For Scott, being on the parkway is therapeutic for he can relax and work through his day. When I’m heading home after visiting my parents in the suburbs, I like to take the Theodore Wirth Parkway back into Minneapolis. I love how my engine hums just above an idle. I love how the scenery unfolds like a painting. I love how a squirrel can dart into the road, freeze, shift and dart back before my front tires even reach it. Sure it takes more time but that isn’t a priority. Hustle is important but so is rest. Decompression, space can all be found on the parkway unless some jagweed is behind you. Then you have a problem.
Nothing will ruin a perfectly good drive than to have a motorist riding your back bumper. I don’t even know why these drivers are even on the parkway. If they really need to get somewhere quickly, why do the pick the slowest route? I find speeders on the parkway annoyingly dangerous for they don’t understand how quickly things can go wrong. First, there isn’t much room for them to pass. Second, there are plenty of joggers, picnickers and skaters darting in and out along with the squirrels. It’s really not a place for excessive speed. It’s not a place to get quickly from here to there. That’s why I couldn’t figure out why the car behind me kept honking.
I was taking my little brother, Chris, back home after a few rounds of Frisbee golf. We were inching along the west side of Calhoun Parkway for the area was full crossing sunbathers, volleyball players and cyclist on ten-speeds. My concern was not to run into any of them, but it didn’t sit well with the car behind me that kept swerving and honking.
Clearly, the car wanted to pass, so I let off the gas and pulled to the right to let the car whip around and continue for another thirty feet before it came to a red light.
All that work for a red light? Normally, I am mild mannered and let most things pass, but I couldn’t help from raising my hands above the steering wheel and mouthing, “Where are you going to go now, Jackass?”
In less time it takes a New York cabbie to run a meter to $20.00, the motorist jumped out of his car and started yelling at me. I had no idea what he said for I couldn’t get past his appearance. He was built like a NFL linebacker, and except for a pair of yellow running shorts, he was completely naked and high on some strong psychotropic drug for he was frothing completely incoherent nonsense.
Even though it was a hot summer’s day, a chilling cold front rolled through the car. It was an absolutely terrifying moment that slipped beyond my control. With the amount of adrenaline coursing through the guy’s steroid-infused body, he could have easily pulled me from the driver’s side window and snapped the life out of me. What was annoying had turned dangerous. I wished more than anything that Chris wasn’t in the car. He didn’t need to such a deteriorating scene. No one should, but random violence never asks for an invite.
As the guy took another step towards my car, the car behind me honked for the light was now green and turning yellow. The guy jumped back into his car and peeled through the red light. I remained. Whatever lay ahead could wait. Being on the parkway, I was in no hurry.