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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Friday, May 24

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Thurston / June 21, 2005 3:12 PM

Road head.

Andrew / June 21, 2005 3:13 PM

Not necessarily gross, just weird.

Once, while going about 70 down I-90 near Rosemont, I looked to my right to see a teenaged girl jamming to the music in her car. She was dancing in her sear -- singing along, head bobbing, neither hand on the steering wheel, neither foot apparently on the pedals, as I could see her knees bouncing up above the bottom of the window. I wasn't sure if she even had her eyes open.

I sped up to get as far away from her as possible.

Roni / June 21, 2005 3:27 PM

Does it count if I was involved?

High my '82 Chevette...hatchback down...5 people in a driving, praying for no cops. Arrived safely to our destination.

It will always be the weirdest thing I've ever seen in my rearview mirror.

e_five / June 21, 2005 3:36 PM

4:30 a.m. Southbound on Lake Shore Drive near Chicago Ave. Young drunken Asian man with all the windows down going about 60 mph in the fast lane, singing along to the radio, bumping against the cement median-- causing sparks to fly up in the air and in a trail a couple dozen feet behind the car-- and not noticing it at all.

Erica / June 21, 2005 3:54 PM

About 10 years ago, I saw Bozo in the back of a blue van on 94. It sure as hell was him or someone dressed up exactly like him. Luckily, I had a camera on me to capture it. The photo was just good enough to see the silhouette of his hair, nose and clown collar.

The other day on Western Ave., I saw a U-Haul w/the back open and about five people sitting/holding on for dear life in there. I've rented many U-Hauls and there isn't much to hold onto in the storage area, so the idea of these people travelling in an empty truck on a busy street was really scary to me. One word: Potholes.

Toni / June 21, 2005 3:57 PM

Going west on the Stevenson--coming home one night after spending the day downtown. An old station wagon pulls up along side and we looked over to see a huge ass fill the entire passenger side window. The car was full of drunk, middle-aged guys who looked like they just got off the second shift. We had guests from out of town in the car. Nice.

Stosh / June 21, 2005 4:05 PM

One of those Ayn Rand loving 'rugged individualists' talking on a cell phone, irresponsibly putting us all at risk because their needs are more important than society's.

Huckle Cat / June 21, 2005 4:07 PM

Well, Andrew, isn't that what cruise control is for?

Lori / June 21, 2005 4:31 PM

8 years ago, driving along on busy 94, coming back to the city from the northshore, in our crappy rusted out honda civic, with my precious darling baby #1 in the back seat, all of a sudden the car in front of us swerves, proceeds to cross all lanes of traffic, spin completely around, cross all lanes of traffic again, and come to a stop facing the wrong direction, against the barrier on the side of the road.

I made my husband STOP the car as soon as I saw the crazy swerve, so we witnessed the whole thing from a safe distance back. No one hit the car, nor did the car hit anyone. I got out and walked up to the car thinking that I was going to find a dead person in the front seat, and sure enough, the older woman driving wasn't moving a muscle. So I said "Are you ok?" and she turned, looked right at me and said "I can't fuckin believe it, but I'm fine."

Slats / June 21, 2005 4:35 PM

I still can't believe people will spend up to 4 hours a day sitting inside those things, moving nowhere. Crazy.

AD / June 21, 2005 4:44 PM

Several years ago I was walking to my studio and I passed a red Toyota Corolla circa 1980 or so parked facing North on California ave. In the back seat was a young woman completely naked she looked as if she was just waking up and had no idea where she was. There was no one else in the car and it was 10 in the morning on a weekday. I wanted to stop and see if she needed help but this presented a particular set of problems. A strange man knocking on the window of a car when there is female, naked and possibly confused inside did not seem like a good idea.

Chris / June 21, 2005 4:49 PM

Once headed east on 88 in snowstorm, we were traveling behind a mini van going about 40-50. Out of no where, the mini van turns completely around so the headlights are pointed at us, but because of the ice and snow, the minivan continued heading in the east on the expressway. My friends and I began screaming as we were sure that this was going to cause an accident.

The van then continued to rotate until facing the correct direction and slid off the road.

We continued unfetted down the highway.

Alice / June 21, 2005 4:53 PM

Years ago, driving north on Lake Shore past Grant Park, we witnessed a car make a very sloppy left turn, driving too fast. The car hit the curb and flipped over. Everyone was okay, though, as we watched them begin to climb out through the car windows into the street.

Also saw another strange accident once. Some friends and I were waiting at an intersection and watched as a van collided with another car making a left turn. A split-second after the collision, the back of the van opened up and several men jumped out of the van and took off running across the intersection towards a nearby forest preserve. We guessed they were either wanted, or illegal aliens, or both, but it was very bizarre.

Andrew / June 21, 2005 5:01 PM

Well, Andrew, isn't that what cruise control is for?

Not unless she also had an autopilot.

Michael / June 21, 2005 5:42 PM

Something similar to a couple of these stories happened to me roughly ten years ago. We were leaving downtown Chicago one night and traveling northbound on I-94 when it started to rain. A "friend" sped around a curve a bit too fast and we hydro-planed across all three lanes of traffic and did a 180 while keeping a constant speed of about 70 m.p.h. Amazingly, the car righted itself and kept cruising down reverse!! So while the driver is still doing 70 in reverse with his head craned around, the other passenger and I are staring straight ahead out the front windshield at the headlights of the cars closing in quickly behind us. Not really sure what the hell to do at that point, we told him to try and spin out of it like Sly Stallone in the movie "Cobra." And damn if he almost didn't almost pull it off. He was able to spin the car around, but ran out of highway and sideswiped the viaduct, causing the car to stall. We sat there for a second, speechless, and then started the car back up and went home, wondering for what higher purpose our lives had been spared. After all that, he only ended up with a smashed tail light.

mike-ts / June 21, 2005 6:18 PM

Back in the early 1970's in Gary, my mom was driving to the store with me. Once she turned off the residential street onto the main street, coming from the opposite direction, over the tracks, was a sight to behold.

Two hippies, wearing filthy jeans and no shirts, hair out to the shoulders that never saw a comb, covered in dust and grime, were standing in a beater car at about a thirty degree lean (the doors were removed, as was the hood), just cruising down the road about 20 mph, looking totally nonchalant, with chins up and heads and eyes straight ahead, acknowledging no one, as the engine on the little AMC or whatever it was struggled away with the valves not just knocking, but hammering away.

I don't know what was more amazing, that scene, or looking over and seeing my mother, who had the demeanor of the characters in Grant Wood's "American Gothic" painting, having a rare good laugh.

Eamon / June 21, 2005 6:27 PM

A few years ago, I'd borrowed my dad's pick-up so I could move some stuff from my apartment in Rogers Park. It was near midnight and raining incredibly hard, and there was surprisingly little traffic due to the weather. Suddenly, there were floodlights and beacons and police everywhere directing traffic: a huge section of I-94 had flooded. They were letting tractor trailers though, though, and for whatever reason, an officer signalled for me to go ahead.

This was clearly a gigantic mistake. Within 50 yards, the water had covered the wheel hubs. With no chance of stopping or turning around, I hit the gas and tucked my truck right up behind a tractor trailer and followed in its wake. Huge walls of water rolled out from us-- with peaks as high as my window-- and the current from the flood and the semi's wheels threw my truck around like a toy boat. The whole time I kept chanting: "Don't stall, don't stall, don't stall", because we were still moving at 25 miles per hour, my brakes were useless, and another semi was right behind me.

I made it through, pulled the truck over, and let panic set in. Easily the longest three minutes I've ever spent behind the wheel.

sarah / June 21, 2005 7:32 PM

I'm driving into the city during a morning commute in your Chicago standard bumper-to-bumper traffice, and I look to right and see a woman with a BOOK propped up on the wheel in her lap.

She is reading and glancing up every once in a while at the road. I still shudder thinking about it!

And one day, many years ago, someone with a car full, totally full, of multi-colored balloons was whipping westbound on Addison, not realizing that many balloons were hanging out the window, the wind beating them against the car and ripping them from their moorings to fly up and over Wrigley Field. Fun.

Leelah / June 21, 2005 10:09 PM

Oh, I've got this one.

It was 3 or 4 am, I was 19 years old, driving west on 90 to to the suburbs from Medusa's with my friend sleeping in the seat next to me. From my rear view mirror, I watched a car drive straight into the toll booth and burst into flames. The guy (as I read in the paper the next day) died, and the toll booth guy lived, as he heard a noise coming and jumped out of the booth before impact.

Or, two weeks ago. A molester van pulled up next to my little honda and honked his horn over and over until I stupidly looked over, thinking something must be wrong with my car. The driver, a middle aged white guy with a scraggly beard held up a magazine. I couldn't quite make it out, but my friend in the passenger seat assured me that it was a full page close up on a woman's bare ass. Drive by porn.

Steve / June 21, 2005 10:46 PM

LeeLAH, that reminds mom was exposed to drive-by porn while she and my dad were driving me back to NIU after some break or another at the end of the '80s. We were passing a car full of what looked like sorority girls, and one of them put a Playgirl centerfold in the driver-side rear window, right where my mom in the passenger seat could get a nice, er, "long" look at it....

tony / June 21, 2005 10:56 PM

This probably doesn't fit the spirit of the question, but anyway... I saw the most hilarious mod on a car the other day. It was a Chevy or Ford pickup, kind of a tiny thing. Guy pulls into a parking lot ahead of us, and we hear a loud fwishhhhhh as the pickup lowers itself to the ground until the body is flush with the asphalt. No joke.

leelah / June 22, 2005 6:30 AM

Tony, I thought when you said "mod" that it was going to be a story about a guy wearing a parka with a British flag on his back!

JenM / June 22, 2005 8:39 AM

At the Rosemont toll plaza, I saw a woman driver plucking her eyebrows, using the rearview mirror as her guide--while driving towards the plaza.

Benjy / June 22, 2005 10:02 AM

I see people reading while driving during my commute all too often. Scary!

A couple years back, I saw a Honda Civic with one of those Calvin peeing stickers -- only it was peeing on a Honda logo! Either he didn't quite grasp the meaning of those stickers, or the driver hates his car...

Ann VanMoxie / June 22, 2005 10:46 AM

8 p.m. on a Saturday, Northbound I-57 at about 111th Street. A pickup truck speeds down an on-ramp, breaks through the guardrail halfway down the ramp and flies, movie car-chase-style, over three lanes of traffic (about 400 feet in front of me) and onto the grass median. The front of the car whacks into the divider and ends up stopped on the median and pointed back toward the lanes it just flew over.

It happened so fast that by the time we passed it, we were able to see inside the truck, and there was no one inside.

Stephen / June 22, 2005 10:47 AM

Just the other day watched someone knitting in her car while driving. I suppose this is better than reading a book or talking on the phone?

And, once, I was waiting in traffic at a downtown intersection. As we were downtown, I could not see down the cross-street - I was a few cars back and could only see the intersection. As I waited, a car silently flew - airborne and upside-down - through the intersection. No noise accompanied it. It both entered and exited my field of vision airborne. As the light turned green, I was able to get a clear view down the cross street to see two shirtless men getting out of their demolished car, apparently not hurt.

I still can't figure out what happened, as no other vehicles appeared to be involved, and the lack of sound that accompanied this wreck still baffle me.

eep / June 22, 2005 11:19 AM

After 3+ years of doing a 70 mile a day commute, I know I've seen some bizarre stuff. However, I can't remember any of it off the top of my head.

My friend, however, swears that one time she was driving down the Stevenson and passed a car whose driver was (she assumed) was driving with his knees. He was using his hands to play his trumpet.

Brandy / June 22, 2005 12:03 PM

In Minneapolis, riding behind a basic pickup truck. Through the back window was a cardboard box. Printed on the box, "Caution Human Blood."

I guess human blood needs to get from point A to point B somehow.

steven / June 22, 2005 12:03 PM

Hey, nothing weird about road head.

Margaret / June 22, 2005 12:32 PM

I'm sorry, this doesn't really count, but I'm going to tell about it anyway because it made me do a freaked-out double-take: It was a couple of years ago, and I was on the sidewalk, just north of Chicago Avenue at Lake Shore Drive. It was later in the afternoon in the summertime. I just happened to look over at LSD for some reason, and I saw several motorcycles going north in a group. One rider was sitting ON THE HANDLEBARS of his cycle (no one was on the seat, mind you). I couldn't believe my eyes. He wasn't wearing a helmet, either. Asking for death? I think so.

amyc / June 22, 2005 1:20 PM

About 7 or 8 years ago, I was driving on Lower Wacker at about 2 am. It was nearly deserted, but I kept hearing music -- like tinkly, kiddie-style music. I rounded a corner to find two ice cream trucks stopped next to each other at a light, revving their engines like they were going to race, with their respective soundtracks blaring full-blast. When the light turned green, the trucks took off -- verrrrry slowly. I think they hit a top speed of about 40 after several minutes.

JP / June 22, 2005 1:29 PM

Once while sitting on the Lawrence Ave bus that was waiting on a red light an older, well dressed gentlemen in a newer Lexus pulled along the right side of the bus. First I was wondering how much the car had cost but quickly notice the man had left his coffee on the roof of his fancy car as well as some hard core gay porn mag. BUSTED! I don't know how long he was driving around like that. I just can't believe this guys buys his coffee from the same place he gets his tightly whitey porn fix from. Talk about cream in your coffee.

AD / June 22, 2005 1:49 PM

What's "Road Head"?

jen / June 22, 2005 3:14 PM

driving out 90 for an Ikea/Mitsuwa adventure, on a completely clear day this spring...
i hear tires squeal RIGHT NEXT TO ME in the lanes heading the opposite direction and as i pass it see an extremely large late-model dodge ram leaning almost on two tires pull a 180 ending up near the concrete facing traffic. luckily the dude was not in heavy traffic, but what on earth caused him to do such a maneuver, i'll never know...

Rebecca / June 22, 2005 5:22 PM

On Lakeshore this weekend a woman was transporting a dozen rose bushes in her little compact car... it looked like there literally was a garden growing in her car. Kind of surreal.

Rebecca / June 22, 2005 5:26 PM

AD: "road head" is the act of performing oral sex on someone [usually the driver] while in a moving car. And hey folks, don't assume the recipient is always male... just sayin'

AD / June 22, 2005 10:22 PM

Rebecca: Is that really what "road head" is? Sounds like an urban myth, like the sex bracelet thing. I have never heard of that before and cannot think of a single person I know who has ever engaged in such an act (or at least never admited to it). I guess I have been riding with the wrong people.

??? / June 23, 2005 9:10 AM

Driving to a scavenger hunt north on sheffield around roscoe...a fully dressed clown in a compact car.

He looked sad.

Later that day I took a turn too fast and almost threw my sister out of the car. That wasn't fun at all, however I was told it looked cool.

LS / June 23, 2005 10:38 AM

Yes, AD, that's really what road head is. I've seen it. And I have other evidence (ahem) that it really does happen. Perhaps your friends are simply more discreet than the folks I used to hang out with...

Kevin / June 23, 2005 11:12 AM

I have never heard of that before and cannot think of a single person I know who has ever engaged in such an act (or at least never admited to it). I guess I have been riding with the wrong people.

Well I will admit to it and boy, were my jaws tired afterward.

Blake / June 27, 2005 8:59 AM

Kevin, what about the back of your head, where it kept hitting the steering wheel?

Dory / July 19, 2005 10:22 AM

Yup, I can verify road head does happen and boy was my boyfriend happy!

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