Taking Driving Advice from Clint Eastwood
by the hundreds are roaming up and down the interstates
that I must travel to get from Arlington, Virginia, where
I live, to Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where my sisters
live. Cars careen past me at what seems to be 200 miles
per hour and the ratio of cars-to-trucks is about one-to-one
on these highways that are no safer than old pony express
routes, where classified ads for riders specified "willing
to risk death daily" and "orphans preferred."
Since people in my family were born with a defective anxiety
gene nurtured by a mother who turned worrying into a family
responsibility, my sisters and I see each other only when
I visit them. How do I manage to get to these destinations
on interstates that rank in the top ten most dangerous
highways in the country? The answer is I simply assume
the persona of Clint Eastwood, my mythic hero.
the important point is to act emotionless but determined,
like Clint, while driving among the outlaws of the
the guise of Clint, I can drive fearlessly between two
heavy rigs on either side of my dwarfed Subaru, ramming
the accelerator to the floor to speed right by them. It
is important to set my jaw firmly, clench my teeth and
be stone faced during such a maneuver. As Clint says,
"When things look bad and it looks like you're not
gonna make it, then you gotta get mean . . . That's just
the way it is."
worry, I don't play games with the truckers; I just look
straight ahead. But if they come back to challenge me,
I step on the accelerator with a vengeance scowling under
my breath, "Go ahead. Make my day." An alternative
approach is to release the accelerator and let the trucker's
galloping horsepower ride off into the horizon. Either
way will get them out of the picture.
the important point is to act emotionless but
determined, like Clint, while driving among the
outlaws of the interstates. Remember they are
in the wrong and, as Clint, I am the enforcer
of the natural law. I say natural law because
Clint realizes in his movies that man-made laws
are arbitrary and deficient. For example, you
can't really obey the posted speed limits on I-95.
Such actions would be imprudent and only single
you out for road rage by one of the marauding
highwaymen. I like to tack an extra nine miles-per-hour
to any posted speed limit. This allows me to keep
up with the other cars but not stand out for a
reprimand by one of the Ford Crown Victorias.
How did this model become the choice of cops throughout
have told my sisters about my method of interstate travel
but they seem unable to comprehend or reluctant to assume
a tough guy persona. Yet I have substantial proof of this
technique. For example, I have driven by myself throughout
the western United States in rugged territory I never
encountered before, simply by becoming Clint.
my western trips, I added a few more of Clint's mannerisms
such as a black Stetson hat worn perfectly straight, just
above my eyebrows and leather cowboy boots. With these
modest apparel modifications, I have driven the 900 mile
round trip between Albuquerque, New Mexico to the Grand
Canyon in Arizona crossing through hostile Indian country
or, so I imagined, since I heard Indian War cries on the
radio alternating with country and western music. I have
stopped at gas stations in the middle of the Painted Desert
with only one grim hombre in attendance. As Clint says,
"When my nose tells me something stinks, I gotta
have faith in it." Here I recommend an expressionless
face like Clint's as the best tactic to keep them guessing.
There's no need to spit chewing tobacco at the feet of
the outlaw like Clint would. "A [girl's] got to know
fit into the rough western surroundings and cope with
the dangerous heat of the desert, I wear T-shirts and
denim jeans but never pink or violet even though they
are my favorite colors. Clint likes black so I pick up
black T-shirts along the way stenciled with place names
like Tombstone, Deadwood, the Badlands or Death Valley.
A pink T-shirt that says Santa Fe can get you killed.
If you're traveling through an Indian reservation, some
turquoise and silver jewelry will show your appreciation
for Indian crafts and Western ways.
offer these driving techniques and costume suggestions
as a service to lone women riding the country's interstates.
Watching a few of Clint's movies before a trip is a must.
I recommend "Pale Rider" or "High Plains
Drifter" if going west and one of the Dirty Harry
movies if driving up and down I-95. Get in that car, turn
on the ignition, rev up the engine, visualize the trucker
you are about to encounter and say between clenched teeth,
"Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?"