Tales from the Cab Side - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Tales from the Cab Side

Tales from the Cab Side

Published June 22, 2009

Now, Miklabraut is a an eight lane thoroughfare cloven in twain by a wide divider adorned with a six foot grid iron fence, hence going the wrong way is either a feat of insanity or the by-product of a British driver’s license. Under the oppressive dome of a starless deep winter’s night, I am suddenly reminded why head lights and break lights differ in colour, as the yellow beams emanating from the S.U.V ahead of me rapidly increase their intensity to the tune of our combined 200 kph. Terror strikes for a fleeting fearful second but before instinct kicks in the accidental game of chicken is cut short when the nut-job, or perhaps limey, turns an on-ramp into an off-ramp and a particular hazard to merely a general one.
On an early late spring morning speeding down Sæbraut there’s some inordinate swerving going down just ahead. There’s no overtaking to be done as the perpetrator defiles both lanes equally in between brief, intermittent forays up the curb and onto the adjacent lawn. His pace is however a meandering one and as I finally spot an opening and poach a passing, a caved in hood alerts me to the probability that his may not simply be a drunken excursion but a full-blown Odyssey of inebriation.
And the goddamn hits keep coming. Along the off-ramp leading to Pizza Hut Sprengisandur, a teenaged three piece collectively crawls out of an upturned hatchback and proceeds in a wailing stumble towards a presumably dead windscreen ejectee.
Along Kalkofnsvegur there is a hairpin turn shielded by a railing and culminating in a stoplight. Between the railing and the stoplight lies a mediocre burger joint in the shape of a teardrop. Presumably the railing serves the dual purpose of protecting pedestrians from careening traffic and careening traffic from the concrete wedge constituting the business end of the teardrop. Turns out the sheer 80 kph (as per police estimates) momentum of stray vehicles bent on wanton collateral damage is far greater then the halting force of safety measures secured by a handful of approx. 20 kg concrete slabs grounded in a mere foot of gravel. Your average household concrete wall will however effectively truncate anything less than a semi truck within the shadow of a heartbeat. The result is a convergence of the three pronged forces of 112 (or 911, where applicable); paramedics, Morphine laced syringe in one hand and defibrillating pads in the other, 5-0 securing the premises and firemen wielding the jaws-of-life. 
For a perhaps anticlimactic finale, there is the aesthetically pleasing spectacle at the surprisingly accident prone intersection of Sundlaugarvegur and Kringlumýrarbraut, laid out like a piece of performance art frozen in time at its apex: a traffic light pole is bent at 33 degree angle (in my experience, for the umpteenth time) and for the time being directs traffic in the skies; a grey Subaru Legacy reclines, engine stubbornly idling, against the cater corner traffic light post, nursing a left headlight bashed so far down the engine block the incessant idling puzzles one to wonder as to how an engine ever needs work done. The piecé de resistance, however, is a red Yaris somehow supporting the tail end of a sedan barely teetering on its front wheels, positioned in such a way that the Yaris’ driver, stumped for entertainment during emergency response time, needs only gaze out his windscreen in order to fully appreciate the Volkswagen’s undercarriage design. There being no one hurt despite the vast vehicular carnage, not taking into account the bitter post scriptum, I am leaving you on a high note.
All in all, this is the kinda shit that makes me curb the road rage at the raving idiots begging for a rapidly horn honking spell of tailgating for the comparative misdemeanour of respecting the speed limit while in the left hand lane, or the joint idiot venture of keeping perpendicular pace on a double wide stretch so as to continuously clog a whole fucking artery of infrastructure.

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