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Saturday, June 23, 2012

I Question Your Ability to Lead, Sir


Have you ever been part of a convoy?

There’s an art to the convoy, a talent. Most important?  The lead guy, the man (or possibly the woman) with the navigational wherewithal, the skills to maneuver the roads, to judge the lights, to settle into a reasonable speed to accommodate the line of cars behind him. Naturally, the longer the convoy, the better the chance that someone will be lost along the way.

Baraboo, WI, is a good place for for getting lost, by the way. One full tank of gas from Minneapolis, the police regularly rescue carloads of teenagers intent on running away...

Statistically speaking, did you know that you are more apt to be attacked by a black bear as you are to reach your destination with your full complement of travelers?

Wait. Maybe that only works in Minnesota.

Of course all members of the convoy have a role to play. Those with lead feet (or lead footses, as they are sometimes known) are just as dangerous to the integrity of the line as those who can’t keep up or slam on their brakes at the sight of a yellow light.

Consistent speed is the key, people; this is my personal conviction.

So I said all that because of what I saw Friday night.

Friday night, I watched three rather large vehicles with Manitoba plates trail a car with Minnesota plates down 94, then onto Broadway and down to University. Broadway has lights every four blocks or so, and so I found myself behind them, over and over. Young and stupid, cutting in and out of traffic, the last two cars unfailingly running red lights to keep up.

It was clear that their lead guy was not up to the job.

Mr. Minnesota Plates? You are fired, sir.

Of course we’re not as reliant on the lead car as we once were. Cell phones, GPS units, lojack (that’s not a guaranteed spelling there, by the way), have given us the information necessary to get from one place to another.

Now if we could get our hands on the device that will allow us to work together.

25 comments:

esbboston said...

I thought it was a polar bear, no wait, I am thinking about Alaska.

Douglas said...

I have been in many convoys over the years. The best one was from Richmond, VA to Knoxville, TN for the World's Fair (where I learned that Ritchie Havens was still touring and gathering crowds in the tens) but we had CB radios so we had no trouble staying connected. The trick without CB or cell phone is for the lead car to pull over and wait if any following car gets caught at a light. Though it is more fun to laugh about how lost they will get as you increase speed.

Joyful Things said...

"Big Toe to Little Toe - come in Little Toe. I can't see your tail lights - over."

fmcgmccllc said...

For many years we convoyed from Greater Detroit to Florida on I-75. This was taken as seriously as heart surgery. How one could imagine getting lost on this route boggles the mind.

Sioux said...

Douglas--Richie Havens only drawing crowds in the 10s? Sad. I saw him with John Sebastian years and years ago...a wonderful concert.

Pearl--

(Sorry about that side conversation there) I've been in many convoys with the Boy Scouts and there was one family/driver who was notoriously bad. They drove extra slowly, they could never keep up with the car ahead of them, which meant all the cars behind THEM got lost as well. When it got time to leave the parking lot, the rest of us were like kamikaze pilots, willing to crash our cars as we desperately tried to ensure that we were in FRONT of this car.

jenny_o said...

A device that would allow us to work together - that would probably bring world peace, no?

That gentleman's lady said...

i've never been in a convoy.

perhaps i should go out and find one!

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

I've never been in a convoy. I hate being left behind so I would probably be a menace.

f8hasit said...

Recently I was following my brother to a destination that I had already input into my own onboard computer system. I watched as he took wrong turn after wrong turn, following him, as my comouter kept telling me to turn around. Finally I called him. "Chuck...youre going the wrong way." "No I am NOT!" So I followed some more. Big brother and all, didn't want to ruffle feathers. FINALLY he called me to clarify the address. HE had put it in wrong in his computer, but thinking that his Caddy is better than my Jeep...well. Let's just say he needed some seasoning for his crow sandwich.
:-)

Love the convoy.

sage said...

How many lights did Pearl run to keep up with the convoy? :)

Ian Lidster said...

Work together? You ask the impossible. And, as a Canadian I suggest never trust a Manitoban. Our woe here is Albertans. You know they're gonna drive scary.

Casey Freeland said...

I think a convoy of two is OK, but that's it. Any more than that and does the lead guy really care what happens to the people in car #4? No, he does not. He's only concerned with getting credit for the crafty way he navigated around the construction site on Broadway and 34th.

Geo. said...

I believe convoys evolved from pre-automotive conga lines and are hindered by the odd atavists who kick and wave both arms every 1.5 seconds. The transition still in its early, cultic phase.

Joanne said...

When I've been in an iffy convoy situation I've just intoned "I'm with the guy ahead of me," and went for it.

Ms Sparrow said...

Ah, that takes me back to the CB-talkin', country western singin',
Smokey Bandit truckin' days of "We got ourselves a convoy!"

Symdaddy said...

Ah, convoys! Something else I could write about after having been in many during my Army days.

The best, or worst one,depending on where you actually were in the convoy, was led by a French-Canadian Captain. He managed to take us on a 14 hour journey that would normally have only taken 5 or 6. During this 'trip' he managed ...

1. to take us down a road (a short cut, he said) that got narrower and narrower, then finally disappeared.

2. to miss our Autobahn ramp not once, not twice, but three times.

3. to be the ONLY ONE not to reach our destination (he led, but just before we arrived his vehicle vanished).

So it's fair to say that I have Convoy experience!

klahanie said...

Convoy? Um no. However, I was once involved in 'the naked kinky conga' that travelled all over the USA and selected town, cities and villages in Canada eh...

Juli said...

We used to road trip in 4 cars down to Florida and back when I was a kid, armed with only Doritos and a CB radio.

Breaker, Breaker, this is Sneakers... over and out...

chlost said...

As a veteran of many convoys, here in the US as well as Europe (believe me it is even more difficult to have a successful convoy on the "wrong" side of the road), I can say with assurance that the key is the use of blinkers. Yes, I have been in many convoys where the leader does not signal the upcoming turns, apparently assuming that everyone behind can, by mind reading or osmosis, discern the next turn, making the use of a turn signal a mere redundancy.
My sister might still be on the freeway somewhere between Mpls. and Myrtle Beach had my brother been the leader.

Diane said...

And avoid cars from Manitoba. I lived there. I know how they drive. Let's just say it might not have been solely the lead car's fault . . .

Laoch of Chicago said...

ok I can't resist. Here it is, the chorus from the worst song of a notable decade:

"('cause we got a little ole convoy rockin' thru the night)
(Yeah, we got a little ole convoy, ain't she a beautiful sight?)
(Come on and join our convoy, ain't nothin' gonna get in our way)
(We gonna roll this truckin' convoy 'cross the USA)
(Convoy)"

NellieVaughn said...

A few people mentioned CB radios. Those things will guarantee success. I had many wonderful trips to Mexico with a great deal of my extended family that way. Ah, thanks for the memories.

River said...

I remember loving the Convoy song. These days the only convoys I've seen are following a hearse. some of those get really long. The convoy, not the hearse.

Murr Brewster said...

We had a device that helped us work together back in the Post Office. It was the knowledge that we'd only have to work together for three hours and then everyone could have a Bloody Mary and get out on the route.

Roly Clu said...

A cheeky bird just whispered in my ear. "Make sure all the drivers are women. They don't get lost cos they will stop n ask for directions" ..... pfffffttttt I say!