The rumors are true: Los Angeles is a city of angry drivers. And none of them have much patience for a 40-year-old truck lumbering through life in the slow lane. But I think I’ve finally figured out how to pacify all the hard-honking boneheads who keep threatening to kill me.
I don’t drive in heavy traffic as often as most of my neighbors. But when I do, I’m usually in my 1975 International Scout which has about twice the mass, half the power and maybe a tenth the braking power of your average poorly-maintained Toyota Corolla.
So let’s just say I move around and merge... deliberately. I also try leave at least a tractor-trailer’s length between myself and whoever I’m following because I was dumb enough to watch crash test videos of what happens when an archaic truck like mine meets another object head-on.
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Between that and the doomsday-prepper paint job I still haven’t had time to do something about, I’ve noticed my Scout tends to generate a lot of anger. This manifests itself as a lot of honking, obscene gestures and general discontentment in my fellow motorists. Though it’s usually just a casual middle finger tossed out the side of a late-model luxury car without license plates unsafely passing me.
Now I don’t really want to inconvenience anybody any more than I want to be impaled by my steering column. But I’m not stepping up the speed of my driving and I’m not taking my truck off the road, either.
My first figuring on how to make better freeway friends was to put a tractor triangle on the back of the truck. That’s one of those orange reflective signs you see in Amish country warning would-be tailgaters about a slow-moving vehicle. But it seemed a little humorless.
Then on my way home from an (actual) sloth safari in Costa Rica, a country that’s embraced the tourism industry so completely it’s got a damn gift shop after you walk through passport control, I found a metal sign with a sloth on it adverting my basic outlook on life and the attitude required to drive in or behind an old Scout.
I put it on the rear tire carrier more than a month ago (with a zip-tie, I’ll find a bolt later), and I shit you not, I have not been honked at since.
Now whether would-be tailgaters are actually taking my rear-mounted sloth’s advice or they’re just too busy squinting to read the black-and-yellow text to hit their horns remains unknown, but I was fairly happy with the result. Until I went and climbed into my truck last week and realized my special lady had added another sloth, on the left side, or “in the passenger seat.”
Today I took my little ride buddy out for his first taste of fresh air on the 10 freeway, and noticed that the beeping is back. But instead of sustained “HHRRRRN” followed by something like “SCREW YOU” I got a staccato toot and smiling faces from the passengers in a Dodge Caravan. Yes, they were digging the side-sloth.
I dig it too. I wonder if I need one on the hood next.