Schadenfreude is a German word that means deriving pleasure from the misfortunes of others. Monday morning I indulged in that pleasure. I was driving to work and had just gotten onto the highway. There was a clot of slow-moving traffic ahead of me, clogging the arterial roadway. I waited my turn and moved over into the fast lane, which still wasn’t all that fast. In an instant, I had a black SUV riding my butt. This continued for a couple of miles, as me and the cars in front of me slowly passed the cars to our right. I kept a safe distance from the car in front of me, all the while Ms. SUV hugged me ever closer. Eventually, after Page, the jam broke apart. I moved over and the SUV surged ahead.
Page is the northern terminus of the old Interbelt. When we first moved to Saint Louis, the highway ended there. It wasn’t even an interstate. A decade later, I-170 was built. The old Interbelt is still pretty much a lawless area, even though it runs through some of the riches areas of town. Really, there is no need for a police patrol on the Interbelt portion of I-170 during rush hour. There is too much traffic to speed there. When there is a wreak, it is usually just a fender bender, someone texting when they should have been driving. The cops and a wrecker show up soon enough and an endless traffic jam parades by and by.
So we had passed Page, I pulled over and the SUV roared ahead. Do you see it coming? While south of Page I-170 is rarely patrolled for speeders, north of Page, I-170 is almost always patrolled for speeders. Sure enough, not a quarter mile ahead of me a cop light up his lights, pulled in behind the SUV and escorted it off to the right side. All staged as a play, right in front of me. That my friends is what Schadenfreude is all about. The fact that just last week, I had seen the same view in the mirror as the driver of the SUV, only heightened the Schadenfreude experience.
This is the second winter in a row that I’ve escaped winter’s embrace, if just for a little while, by traveling to warmer climes. It may not be snow-white here in Saint Louis, but it is certainly gray enough for me. So if your still enjoying this winter’s blessings, please consider this post’s California flowers be a shout out to spring for you. In Saint Louis, Schadenfreude might really mean deriving pleasure from the Missouri of others.
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