Reporter says rudeness grows; I see it in young truck drivers


 Every weekend, I dredge my mind for ideas for this weekly column. It’s something I’ve done every week at this time for some 26 years that I’ve written a weekly column.

At the start, I told readers, I’d write what I learned this week. That keeps me learning. Ideas never stop coming. It’s a miracle.

Earlier this week I was almost run over by a speeding pickup when I was in a protected crosswalk on campus. After my heart calmed a minute, I thought I should write about the increased rudeness I see on our streets.

Before I’d decided on my own column topic, I read the Saturday New York Times, my daily morning habit. Start the day with news.

I found references to all of my possible topics in the big metro paper.

A columnist noted the increased rudeness being promoted and accepted by our president. A Saturday op-ed by NY Times writer Bret Stephens says our president has no interest in “civility and decency.” Now, even the White House doesn’t promote civility. We’re presenting a rude face to America and the World.

Rudest drivers seem to be young men, unable to drive slowly. They drive big pickup trucks or SUVs which protect them. They have a need to get somewhere quick.

Speeding vehicles on city streets steal time and place from other drivers.

We who drive at speed limit can’t change lanes without triple checking rearview mirrors. We must wait for the speeder to pass.

The scariest part is when a young truckers speed right up to you rear bumper, before braking. It happened again a couple of days ago. That’s a big waste of fuel and brake lining, Speeders add to global warming.

Later, I was astounded by rain reports from across Missouri, When airports are flooded it must mean above average rain fell. Some places in north Missouri had overnight rains of 7 inches. Those were followed with rains of 5 to 6 inches the next day. After an extra wet spring, nothing was going to soak into the soil.

In our weekly teleconference, soil specialists noted that rain might not be depleting applied nitrogen fertilizer. The water runs sideways, not down into the subsoil, taking nutrients away from the root zone. That’s already happened.

I dug up a whole list of potential column ideas last week when I received an unusual honor. A want-to-be journalism student came to visit. He’s interested in reporting on agriculture. A young person new to the Midwest wants to learn and report farm news.

His teacher at J-school suggested: “Go talk to Duane.” I was honored by the suggestion and follow up. This sharp student was astounded with all happening in Missouri farm life.

I was more astounded that he was not doing classwork assignments, but wanted stories to write this summer on his own. I offered help. We need ag reporters.

Then I read a story about all of this water falling out of the sky. What we have in North Missouri is a tickle compared to what faces New Orleans. Their levees are failing while the sea rises. More of our water heads that way down our flooded Mississippi.

At the start of the Hurricane season, a storm even close to matching Hurricane Katrina will about wipe out the city. One thousand deaths can be expected with gushing water to come, the story said.

We’ve built no infrastructure, including levees. The President won’t talk infrastructure with Congressional leaders, who he calls rude.

Just as I was about to finish my column, I saw an item in a Columbia Sunday paper. Two pedestrians in a crosswalk downtown were run over by a young driver. No details, except the victims were hospitalized with serious injuries. No telling yet on guilt. Maybe walkers crossed against the traffic light. I’ve experience a truck in my space in a protected crosswalk.

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(Editor’s note: One of the two women struck in the downtown Columbia incident, an elementary school teacher from Jefferson City, has since died from her injuries).


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