February 26, 2017
Last October, on a beautiful Saturday morning of clear blue skies and mild temperatures, my wife and I drove south on I-35 from our home in Carlton. We were headed for our grandson’s college football game in Northfield, Minnesota. As we rolled along we talked happily about our grandkids, and read aloud from Wikipedia articles that we sometimes found fascinating and worth sharing. This day we may have been reading about the Federalist Papers, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I don’t know.
Diane noticed in the rear-view mirror that a car far behind us seemed to be having some trouble, periodically emitting a dense cloud of manila-yellow smoke, and remarked about it to me. We came upon a slower car, Diane checked her mirror and, finding the passing lane to be clear, moved into the left lane to pass. A car quickly appeared on our rear bumper, approaching dangerously close. It swerved right, then back left, pressuring us to move faster, and get out of the way. Diane completed the pass, pulled back to the right lane, and the car behind came along side to pass us. “Hand signals” were exchanged between the two vehicles, all travelers sharing the mutual recognition that “I think you’re an irresponsible jerk.”
The vehicle abruptly pulled in front of us, and a thick, choking, cloud of oil smoke poured from its raised snorkel exhaust directly onto our windshield. Did I say thick?!? I have never seen smoke so thick come from anything. We could not see ten feet in front of us, and we were travelling at 70 mph! We had last seen the smoke-belching vehicle about 20 feet in front us and, with the vehicle that we had just passed somewhere close behind us, this was pretty alarming.
The smoke began to thin a bit, and then we passed out of the cloud to clear air once again. We could now see the offender up the road a couple of hundred yards. Sure enough, before too long, he had “coal rolled” another driver before he pulled off at the North Branch exit. We were shaken and, even though our windows had been closed, we could taste the oily reminder of this de-humanizing event in our mouths for hours afterward.
That got me thinking about the coming Zombie Apocalypse.