Today my wife and I did a little day trip, actually a midmorning/afternoon trip to a little town here in Florida called Dade City. Dade City is your basic tourist experience (cause I don’t want to use the term TRAP). It has 3 or 4 nice little local restaurants, a few chains restaurants, and about a dozen or so “antique” i.e. junk stores. Anyway, the wife and I visited most of the “antique” stores, and had lunch at a wonderful place (Lunch at Limoges) we have eaten at numerous times before. Yes we have been to Dade City several times before and have taken friends there as well. We go because of Limoges.
Well this is a real long setup to talk about the trip home. The drive between Brandon and Dade City is no more than 75 mins, and that is really on a slow day. We use state route 39, for almost the entire trip, and of the 50 miles or so traveled, 35 of it is your basic two lane road. Very picturesque, and could be in almost any state in the Union. Between points A and B, there are only 3 traffic lights, once you get beyond Zephyrhills on the way south. Damn this setup is getting longer by the word.
One more tiny bit of setup. I quit smoking 25+ years ago. During the early years of not smoking, I was not the least bit sensitive to the odor of cigarettes, I could sit right next to you as you smoked and it wouldn’t bother me in the least bit. Today, after a series of health issues, if you smoke within a mile of me it will probably bother my lungs.
Okay, Okay…. Finally on to the story. Because it is a two lane road, and because it was a busy Wednesday midmorning/afternoon trip, the traffic on 39 made it impossible to pass. My wife was sitting beside me trying to nap, and I say trying, because I kept trying to engaging her in conversation. We were not driving the posted speed limit, actually we were going 5 mph slower. Normally I would have found a way to drive at least 8 mph over, but that’s just me. We were following a white for F-150 pickup, carrying a single bale of hay in the cargo bed. The driver was not using the A/C, and I could tell this by his arm hanging out the window. I could also tell this by the fact that every 25 seconds or so a giant puff of white smoke came out the window (maybe he was Catholic) puff of white smoke (get it). And each time that puff came out I smelled it, or thought I did. I could feel the smoke in my lungs, I could taste the odor on my tongue, it made me remember almost every cigarette I had (well maybe, that is a bit of an over statement). Also this guy was smoking a chain, we followed him at distances of 10 feet (at the lights) to maybe 85 feet as we traveled, for maybe 20 miles, (or 30 minutes) and he kept those white puffs going. At one point I wanted to scream at him, “put the F’in cigarette out and give me a break”, or better yet snatch it from him and stomp it out myself. Of course I didn’t, we were driving in separate vehicles at 50+ mph. This guy must have had the lung capacity of an entire basketball team. I keep calling them puffs of white smoke when in reality they were giant clouds of white smoke.
At the lights it was much worst. Or I think it was. Travelling at 55 mph it wasn’t so bad, it looked more like the vapor trail of a jet fighter, than a cloud, but you could still see it, and I continued to catch whiffs. At one point I may have even questioned my sanity. And good Lord I need to say it again that guy had the lung capacity of an entire basketball team, all 12 players. In my car I had the A/C going, and all of the windows were up. So it wasn’t like the fumes of his cigarettes were travelling from his truck and being sucked into the open window of my car. It was like the odor, was as living thing, a creature, from a nightmare, because it found ways to enter my vehicle. That odor found ways to scratch my nose, to fill my throat and find ways into my lungs. I felt like I was in a burning building, it was a nightmare, yet I was living it in broad daylight.
Finally after about 20 miles he made an unexpected right turn, the air cleared, the rest of the drive home uneventful. Go figure!
Was I being hyper-sensitive, or was it my imagination. You decide.
As always your comments, thoughts and suggestions are invited. Please take care, — Bill