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Don't retread on me - Greg Gelpi

Between the flashes of white road stripes, a flash of something bordering on a logical thought flashed through my head.

While zooming along interstates 85, 65, 10 and 12, the white stripe after white stripe after white stripe blinked like a strobe light and melted into the hypnotic images of an old flickering film in my mind's eye.

Amidst this road-weary semi-trance, long stretches of flawless expanses of concrete ribbon were broken up by periods of dodging and weaving and memories of playing Spy Hunter.

My eyes squinting narrower, my hands gripping the wheel tighter, I deftly tiptoed around chunks of what might as well have been land mines as fast as my compact car would take me.

Shreds of retread tire speckled my pathway, the pieces lying in wait to foil my journey, disable my car and potentially worse.

Choosing the highway over the high ways of air travel, my pocketbook often guides my paths and trips, rather than ease and convenience.

The added hours entrapped in a small enclosure occasionally produce a coherent thought or two, most recently the thought of what I would do if I were president for the day.

As a guy with a list of pet peeves that would rival the list of names in Bill Clinton's little black book, I would address as many of those pet peeves as possible in that one day. Near the top of that list would be retread tires, an evil and scourge that I would pluck from every tractor trailer and eliminate from all roadways.

Tricky enough in the daylight to dance between around and even over, the black strips and chunks of tire go undetected under the cover of night until smashing windshields, banging up cars and generally prompting countless amounts of property and people damage.

Even with swift dodging of these obstacles, others not so diligent can send them airborne and hurdling toward me and my car.

Taking a hit or an evasive maneuver gone awry can lead to more than cracked glass or dented metal. One wrong move can lead to a fatal wreck or worse.

And all the while, the tractor trailers which spit out the tire shreds continue on their way, never knowing the harm done by their retread tires.

The images still play in my head of an earlier trip through the mountains of Tennessee, returning from a rowing regatta. At the helm of a 15-passenger van, hugging wide bends around mountain tops amidst thick traffic, the sea of cars parted suddenly before my eyes.

Reacting more than thinking, I followed and shifted lanes as well, not sure as to why I was doing so.

Whirling past, in the now vacated lane of the interstate, was a smoking doughnut barreling down the road. The projectile destined to wreak havoc had only moments earlier been the wheel of a big rig, and now was only a big disaster awaiting its victim.

Perhaps there's a logical explanation, one that I would even subscribe to for the use of these retread tires, but I can't fathom one that trumps the safety of travelers.

I won't paint my garbage black and dump it without regard on the highways, and I wish that truck drivers and trucking companies would do the same.

Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at ggelpi@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.