Indeed, Portland's highways and by-ways can often be viewed as a clash between eccentrics. As this periodical's senior reviewer of delivery vehicles bearing the sticker "How's my Driving?" I am afforded a front row seat to the city's colorful palette of driving styles--filled with raw energy and edge, and on occasion, thoughtfulness...and humanity.
Recently, I was privileged to witness Driver #12, who operates a delivery truck for Conley's Meats ("Distributors of Cooked Meats to Restaurants, Sports Bars, and Mexican Eateries--Reprentante Bilingüe Disponible."). This is not my first experience with said company, and I must confess I've occasionally viewed their drivers with some reticence. Last year, following his vehicle from Vancouver to Clackamas on 205, I was less than enthused with Driver #12's performance. It lacked focus, and with the addition of indiscriminate weaves and lane changes, cast serious doubt on his company's so-called "commitment to safety."
You can only imagine my astonishment, then, when I recently followed Driver #12 to a Mexican establishment in N Portland, and found his driving to be a vast improvement over his earlier, more emotional work. What I once viewed as reckless, now appeared to be filled with dynamic complexity--intelligent and humane, yet fueled by brutish masculinity. I was aghast with the dizzying brilliance of his corner turns, the laughable whimsy of his rolling stops, and his acute sense and talent for drawing on the personal to illuminate the social and political resonances of a particular time and place while engaging his turn signals.
Driver #12's tight and imaginative vehicular control wastes not a moment or gesture, and reminds one how glorious the act of driving can be. What was once a performance of frustration and tragedy, now succeeds on all counts. I deem Conley's Meats' Driver #12 to be a triumph, and happily place him at the top of my "Not to be Missed" list.