I drove to work this morning rather than taking the bus, and on the way, near the bus stop at 28th St. and Lyndale Avenue, the pickup truck in front of me sharply rear-ended the mid-vintage Pontiac in front of it. Having seen the whole thing, I stopped the car and got out, thinking that I might offer clarity if there was any dispute as to what happened.
The Pontiac was very likely a total wreck, with the rear end crumpled up so far that the rear doors were inoperable and the rear wheels deformed so that this accident would need to be cleared by a tow truck. With some interest, I watched as the two drivers emerged from their vehicles and approached one another.
The first action was them shaking hands and introducing themselves. Then they turned to me as I approached and shook my hand, introducing themselves individually to me, too.
"Well, what do think happened there, do ya think?" said the guy who'd just been smashed from the rear.
"Well, ya know, I think maybe it was the ice. I thought I was brakin', but it was like nothing happened, ya know. Or I suppose my brakes might be bad."
"Ya, I suppose it could be either of dose things."
The whole exchange had no more passion to it than a customer ordering coffee from a clerk at Starbucks. A little disappointed but utterly unsurprised at the lack of drama, I soon continued on to the office.
This is an entirely normal scene in Minnesota. I witnessed at least a dozen road accidents this winter and only once did I witness anything like an angry reaction from violated and occasionally injured drivers.
The driver of that car had license plates from Illinois.