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Road Rage in Roanoke 

(Reprint from News: July 16, 2001)

July 15, 2001

 

After staying in the nice Motel 6 on the outskirts of Roanoke -- and getting politely kicked out late Sunday morning because I'd misread the checkout time (oops!) -- I drove into Roanoke to get some gas.  It seems that every now and then while driving across the country, I have a "Duel"-like experience with a semi-truck, and as it turned out, today would be that day.

 

 

Above:  The Roanoke Motel 6.

 

For those of you too young to remember, "Duel" was Steven Spielberg's 1971 directorial debut, a haunting made-for-TV movie that starred Dennis Weaver as a guy who drove across an empty highway in the West while being perpetually tormented, for unknown reasons, by a truck driver who's face you never see. 

 

I only watched "Duel" once, and that was back in 1971 when it was first released, but the memory of it has stuck with me vividly after all these years.  This was probably the first movie ever made about "road rage," a term and affliction which unfortunately have become commonplace in this country.  Incidentally, Steven Spielberg and I actually went to the same high school in northern California (though we were several years apart and I never met him).  That's about as close to a celebrity as I've ever come.

 

As I was trying to get onto the nearly-empty freeway heading into Roanoke, trying to merge into the right lane, a truck that was barreling down the freeway at 65 mph refused to let me in.  I don't know why: maybe it was my colorful Oregon plates (remember getting keyed in Austin?), my import pickup, or the "Wisconsin" sticker on the back of my truck.  Whatever it was, this guy was incredibly rude.  As the end of my merge lane was quickly drawing near, I pulled in front of the trucker, who greeted me with a bellowing 120-decibel blast from his horn. 

 

He wouldn't let up, either, and tailed me closely into downtown Roanoke, finally passing me -- and giving me the finger -- after I pulled off at a Chevron.  Yep, it was all my fault because I actually had the gall to get onto his freeway.  Obviously, some people shouldn't be allowed to drive... or have children.  Anyway, I shrugged it off and, after grabbing some donuts in the mini-mart, I felt much better.  Donuts always have a soothing effect on me.

 

 

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