Friday's Weekend Column
Yes, We Are Ready

by James Glaser
December 20, 2002

You can only do this after your kids have left home. We are ready for Christmas. I would like to repeat that for my sister Jean, we are ready for Christmas!

Here we are about fifty miles from the Canadian border in Northern Minnesota, just before the holidays and it is raining. People up here wonder just how bad global warming would have to get before we didn't have a winter. Looking out the window I can see bare ground in spots and no one here would mind a brown Christmas.

When it warms up like this all the birds and animals are out at the feeder stocking up. Sometimes there are six gray squirrels on the deck at one time. The birds tend to come in waves, for a while there will be thirty birds, all at the feeders and then like a flash they are all gone. Maybe they have a route and check out everyone's feeder.

It must be getting a little colder out there as that rain just turned to snow. I'm sure that I will be seeing cars in the ditch for the next few days. It usually takes a young man about seven or eight winters to figure out that fast driving equals a towing bill and maybe some body shop time.

Some guys never learn and every year they are in that ditch. With all the four wheel drive vehicles on the road today you see many more cars and trucks in the ditch. People think four wheel drive is like magic and they are safer, but that isn't true at all. Once a vehicle that is in four wheel drive breaks traction you better hang on cause you are going for a ride.

Rear wheel drive vehicles can be brought back into traction with proper steering and after years of driving the correct maneuvers are just automatic. Front wheel drive, with the weight of the engine and transmission right over the drive wheels are really fine in winter. That back end can be all over the road and the front end keeps going straight. No vehicle though, is safe on ice covered roads.

If I am on the highway and feel that little drift of the truck on ice, (you only get that one warning if you are lucky), I let up on the gas and slow right down. But you know what, most other drivers keep right on trucken at high speed and go around your car like you were standing still. Years ago I would try to keep up with traffic, but now I don't care what other drivers think. You will see a family with little kids flying by and a few miles down the road they are way out in a field.

Maybe it is because I have lived up here so long, but I just don't feel like I have to race to get some place any more. If It takes a little longer OK. A trip off the road can take all day and the truck might be in the shop for several more days.

Northern Minnesota has more than its share of drunk drivers, in fact at many bars you can order a drink just before you leave and ask them to put it in a "to go cup." That is a plastic cup you can sip on while driving to the next bar.

At coffee the other morning one guy was moaning because the night before he got a drunken driving ticket and as they all do, he said he wasn't that drunk. Every one at the table was telling him how the Deputy could have let him go or driven him home. Well this guy is a constant drinker and I don't like drunk drivers especially when they are driving on the same roads I do. So I told the guy that he got what he deserved and after I broke the ice everyone at the table told the guy what a jerk he was and that he got that ticket while all the inexperienced high school drivers were coming home from the basketball game and he could have run into one of them. Up here it is so easy to get a ride home, heck most times some one will drive your car home for you and some body else will follow and pick them up, so that the next morning you have your car at home.

You go to a bar up here and not only does everyone know what you drink and how much, they know you and your wife and your kids. This is small town America and every one will help if you ask and many times if you don't ask. But today, more and more people are getting fed up with drunk drivers and now will say something, where as before that was never spoken of.

So if you are going out to have a some holiday cheer this year, get some one else to drive or if you get over your limit, be big enough to ask for a ride. You might be surprised at how much people will think of you for doing that.

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