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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Not So Much Road Rage As It Is Road Irk

www.dogonaut.com
For most of my life, I detested driving. It seemed impossibly dangerous and a terrible responsibility. There was so very much to look out for, and all at once! How could one, single person be expected to keep her eyes on the road, be aware of the speedometer, look out for other drivers, be conscious of hazards on the roadway, and remember everything she was supposed to know, including the directions of how to get where she was going, when and how to apply the brake (And what in the hell does it mean to imagine an egg under the pedals anyway? Why on earth would that ever, ever happen?), and holy crap, let's not forget the turn signals and Assured Clear Distance.

But I finally did get my driver's license at eighteen, and I used it only when necessary. I commuted to and from my classes at the local community college and thence to my part-time job at the bank. Happily, everyone else in my life loved to drive. I started to wonder if I somehow chose my friends and even my husband based upon their willingness to drive. Even my teaching job was only two and a half minutes away, from driveway to parking spot.

It was a lifestyle less than ideal, however, and I really felt as if my wings were clipped. But my discomfort with driving coupled with my lousy sense of direction made it Just One Of Those Things. Where would I go, anyway, that I wouldn't want to go without Rick or one of my friends?

My regular readers may recall that when I retired, Rick's present to me was a GPS. Since that day almost four years ago, I have made great use of it, taking solo trips to Virginia, Maryland, and lots of places here in Ohio. My little Prius is on the road almost every day, and driving is No Big Deal to me anymore.

And while I can't claim to be an expert driver, I have driven enough now to have noticed some things. I'm presenting them here, and I'd like to see if you've noticed them, too.

1. Buicks go more slowly than other cars.
2. Men wearing hats drive very, very slowly.
3. Vans are not allowed to go the speed limit.
4. It is a myth that red cars speed.
5. Old, green Ford Tauruses go slowly, and they cannot change lanes.
6. The bigger the pickup truck, the more slowly it goes.
7. The larger the vehicle, the greater the chance that I will get stuck behind it for eleventy hundred miles.

As you can perhaps determine from this list, I am often in a position wherein some cars are, as St. Patsy would say, "puddleducking." I am not often in a hurry, but Patience is still something I work at, and it irks me to no end to have other individuals impede my progress.

Buicks, for example, have no exception to their rule. The other day, I was behind a sporty-looking, black Buick two-door, brand new. Its windows were so tinted that it looked like the Batmobile. It actually revved its engine at the light. "Yes!" I thought. "This is one Buick that will let me get my ice cream home before it becomes a milkshake." Except...no. The car daintily crept away from the green light like a moribund snail. Could I neatly veer into the other lane? Of course not. Everyone else behind me was doing that. Even a red Ford Aerostar.

Sometimes, like the red Aerostar example, you get a terrible combination. This is what I fear when I am on a No Passing Zone two-way highway. Inevitably, I experience a 6/7 Combo or a 3/4 or even the Dreaded 1/2/4/7. Sometimes, The Hat Thing is a Thing All Its Own, and it is a Wildcard that can complicate any of the above. Toss in a few other variables (bumpersticker sentiments, cellphone usage, presence of DVD screens) and I can pretty much determine whether or not I'll be on time/serene/growling/needing to reach into the wine fridge.

It is not simply a question of Me Leaving Earlier, for often, I'm not due anyplace by a certain time. It is just that I want To Get There. Expeditiously and efficiently. I do not want to sightsee. I do not want to feel as if I am appearing in a slow motion sequence about traffic patterns in a Highway Department documentary.

Or, is that wrong?

Today, I laughed and laughed as my Prius and I finally passed the bigass flatbed truck going 43 mph in a 65 mph zone on the state highway. There was no one else on the road, but this hat-wearing guy was in my way and I was tired of looking at his ugly back end. That was a 7/2, for those of you scoring at home. I still had twenty more miles to go, and I wasn't going to stare at him in slo-mo the whole damn way.

21 comments:

  1. I think driving in OH sounds charming and relaxing, with all these slow drivers! Everywhere I've ever driven, I seem to be surrounded by drivers who are all in a tearing hurry to deliver a baby or negotiate a hostage crisis - and that was just on an average day in the US. In Seoul, it was not unusual to be the first person in line waiting at a red light and have a car appear from nowhere to pull in front of you (yes, you are stopped at a red light and no I have no idea where they came from - either driving against oncoming traffic or the sidewalk, usually) just so they wouldn't be inconvenienced by having to wait at the end of the queue when the light changed, because they were More Important Than You and In a Hurry. I actually love the driving here in England - no matter what you do, everyone's infallibly polite and patient. The only hooting (honking) I've heard has been in case of something quite dangerous happening - as a warning. Half the time, the streets are so narrow anyway that two cars can't pass, so you have to enter cautiously (especially country lanes) and be prepared to reverse (or wait for the other person to do so) for quite some distance until someone can find space to pull aside and allow the other guy to pass. After all this is accomplished, it's correct to pass the other driver with a friendly wave of the hand and/or a head nod, noting your appreciation of their inconvenience (even if you were the one inconvenienced.) Because of England. And politeness.

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    1. MsCaroline--Bless your heart. Driving in Ohio has probably never, ever been termed "charming" until right now. Stopping at a red light in Seoul sounds very like stopping at a red light on the Garden State Parkway, where I have observed people driving on the shoulder quite often in order to advance themselves. And no, it was never I.

      I do very much practice the Thank You Wave whilst driving. It is quite elementary in Driving Etiquette here in The States as well. Sometimes, if there is established eye contact, one can even employ the Thank You Nod. Because coolness. Because street cred, yo.

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  2. At sixty-six, I have never driven in my life. the details of my visual problems would be clinical and boring. Suffice it to say, I was the geek with the coke-bottle glasses. I went into contact lenses fairly early for that time period, at the ophthalmologist's recommendation. (The old fashioned, excruciating hard lenses--they didn't make soft lenses in my extreme prescription until I was in my thirties)

    Then, to add insult to injury, I developed early onset cataracts. Then, the miracle happened. The cataract operation now involves something called intraocular implants. My deficit was so extreme, my doctor took what he called his "best guess". Luckily for me, the man is brilliant. I came out of the second operation with close to 20/20 u corrected vision. I could see birds, individual leaves on the trees, and realprof's face for the first time.

    But I was in my fifties by then, and didn't have the reflexes or the spatial knowledge to actually drive a car. There was simply no learning for me. So, I am the perpetual and grateful passenger, and must accept the vagaries of the other denizens of the road with equanimity. Oh, and realprof drives our Buick with aplomb, and not with excessive slowness--it's red, you see.

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    1. fauxprof--Being Chauffeured is a wonderful luxury if one has terrific patience and can be on another person's schedule. Or, as in your case, has limited options due to Other Things. (I am quite glad for your successful surgery. I can only imagine your joy!)

      Now, while I appreciate your estimation of realprof's confidence and poise in the driver's seat of his (red) Buick, I did notice (sharp eyes!) the adverb usage in your prepositional phrase. I am asking, therefore, that you please do your best to restrain his hat usage. So many of us will thank you for preventing a 1/2/4.

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  3. ALL Buick owners are not slow drivers, Nance. Sammy Davis Jr. always had a big Buick and would drive from L.A. to Las Vegas in it all the time.

    Once, he was driving there with Joey Bishop and they were pulled over by the CHP. The cop said to Sammy, "Do you know how fast you were going.?" "No, Officer,I don't know how fast I was going." The HP officer said," Everybody should ALWAYS know how fast they are going." That's when Joey leaned across and said," Officer, Sam only has one eye.. .. What do you want him to watch, the road or the speedometer?"

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    1. Nancy--If I were trying to appear much younger, I would say, "I don't get it. Who are these people?"

      Since this is a joke and all these people are dead, I have to say that its veracity is in question and I stand by my original rule.

      (I owe you an email. And I am so glad that your new car is not red, a van, a Taurus, or a Buick!)

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  4. Oh we are Sisters on the Road! Just this morning I was running late for work & cursing as I got behind trucks, school buses, and some woman doing 65 in the left lane (yes, the speed limit is 65, but that means we go at least 75, especially when we're late for work). I was concerned about the woman though - I think she was texting (& let's face it - she was a GIRL, not a woman) & she was all over the road. I actually blew my horn at her - something I never do. I was afraid she was going to hit a car in the middle lane.

    The professor & I call #2 The Old Man in a Hat Syndrome. And sometimes HE'S the old man in a hat. He has trouble focusing on his driving when he's in lecture mode. Oh, and when someone is driving slowly, we call that lollygagging :)

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    1. The Bug--Oh, left lane hogs are a pain, too, and when driving through Cleveland, it's astonishing how many there are who simply take up residence in the left lane and cruise along either at or below the speed limit. I don't get it.

      Old men in hats driving Buicks are a Road Hazard. They were my original #2, which is why my Hat Wildcard Thing makes not too much sense, now that I re-read it. Oops. I then thought it over and realized that men in hats pretty much were a thing on their own. But I have also noticed that women, on the rare occasion that they are sporting headgear, muck up my progress.

      My usage for lollygagging seems confined to personal perambulation--walking around places. Occasionally, I'll use puddleducking for that, too.

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  5. I'm one of the few people in the world without a license (or so it would seem), but I more than make up for it with crappy bus stories from abroad. And here is what I noticed:

    1. If I'm in a country where buses leave whenever they fill, I will manage to arrive at least two hours before the magical departure time.
    2. In situations like these, there will be no fewer than thirty people trying to sell random crap to people on the bus.
    3. I will always end up in a seat that's too hot because of the sun.
    4. I will always end up on the bus that stops eleventy million times to drop off and pick up passengers.

    I could avoid number 3 by thinking about the direction we're traveling and the position of the sun (based on the time of day and season) relative to the bus, but somehow I never think to do this.

    And you can try to ask for the express bus to avoid number 4, but people will lie to you to get you into their bus, so it's not even worth trying.

    - Mikey G.

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    1. MikeyG--At least your bus travel is one of those necessary evils that is part of a greater wonderful. My bus experience is quite limited (and domestic), thank heavens.

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    2. Sometimes things run efficiently. In Nicaragua, there are minibuses that go from Managua to Leon (the route I needed to take), cost two dollars, and leave every ten minutes. After waiting for hours for minibuses to fill up in Africa, this felt like a miracle.

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  6. I tend to be an impatient driver. I don't know if it is genetic, as my father used to be very impatient as well, and he is the one who taught me how to drive and the person who drove me most places. However, now that he is older, he drives like the stereotypical old man that he now is. So there is hope for me?

    There is so much traffic here anyway that you are usually just moseying along whether you want to or not.

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    1. Gina--Hello! I don't think it is genetic; my parents were definitely NOT impatient drivers, and I grew up to be a more short-fused driver than both of them. So is my younger sister. My mother is an excellent driver and was my instructor and principle chauffeur, so she didn't model that behaviour at all.

      Yes, there is hope for you as you age and some stress drops away from your life. I am far less wired as I drive than I used to be. I don't holler when I drive anymore, and I am much more inclined to be That Nice Person who will let you in when you signal that you need to get into my lane or use the drive for the store that is just ahead of me.

      It is rare that I am in a ton of traffic locally, unless there is an accident or roadwork is redirecting us. Cleveland is increasingly a nightmare due to multiple construction projects, so I am avoiding it.

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  7. Bwahahaha! I drive 70 miles a day in OH...you nailed it! Wait until harvest season, when I will be driving on a two-lane road with a combine harvester that takes up BOTH lanes! Also, I drive a red car. In the mornings, we do NOT like to drive under the speed limit! In the afternoons, we become the Old Man In The Hat! We beg your forgiveness, but we are looking for photo opportunities involving cows. I adore you...and yes, the Bug knows that.

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    1. Professor CL--Harvest season, logging season, COUNTY FAIR WEEK...sigh. We are charming the hell out of MsCaroline just talking about it all. LOL.

      I enjoy your cow photos, and I've never been behind you (to my knowledge) so you are forgiven. I've pulled over a few times for some picturesque bovines myself, but usually I've stopped, backtracked, and had to retrace my route after the snaps.

      It's absolutely wonderful to be adored. Thank you so much.

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  8. I'm always surprised to hear of people who don't love to drive. I adored driving when I was young. I used to get in the car and crank up my music and drive the country roads. Then of course there is the reality of driving in the bay area, which sucks. Too many other drivers, too many aggressive drivers, too many idiots. What I liked about driving was the empty country roads. I don't think my daughter likes driving...she doesn't hate it, but without those nice empty country roads, it's more 'watch out for idiots' than it is getting the wind in your hair, etc. The biggest issue around here (aside from people speeding on the freeway, as though 80 is JUST TOO SLOW) is that in California, cars don't come with blinkers. I don't know why this is. (Of course, MY car has blinkers...just no one else seems to have working blinkers...)

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    1. J@jj--During my short visit, I was able to observe drivers in the Bay Area, mostly while Mikey and I waited to cross to the train station. I didn't notice much in the way of patterns, but the speeds and lane changes were impressive. We need more of that here. ;-)

      The non-directionally-equipped car is a favourite model here as well. My husband suddenly owns one, and I am constantly irritated by it. As a matter of fact, I am becoming more and more irritated by his car as time goes on. Especially when he is driving it.

      As I have already discussed the silliness of Wind In One's Hair when we live in a Civilized and Modern Society, I won't address it further here. Next thing you tell me, you'll endorse Eating Outdoors, Camping, and Spending A Whole Day At The Beach, all of which is sheer lunacy.

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    2. ARE sheer lunacy. ARE! The mere thought of such things makes me lose my Subject-Verb Agreement.

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  9. We're likely eating outdoors tomorrow, for Ted's birthday...which I know is also YOUR birthday. So Happy Birthday, Nance!
    Camping, I love the daytime part, but the cooking is a bit of a pain, and the sleeping is horrid. My first choice would be a hotel (even motel would be fine) for sleeping, and then going out and seeing the nature all day.
    Oh a whole day at the beach...if only I could do that again. What a gloreous day that is. You need to spend some time in Hawaii. Now that I'm older and more self concious about bathing suits, and have had skin cancer removed from my skin, the idea doesn't appael as it once did. But way back when, it was perfect.

    But we can always agree on wine and avocados and so very many other things. :)

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    1. J@jj--Thank you, J. Happy Birthday to the wonderful Ted. Our intention was to spend the weekend at the lake, but I had to make a solo trip home on Saturday morning, ill. Felled by another severe sinus and ear infection. Cruel birthday present, and the weather was so gorgeous, finally! I'm resting, recovering, and feeling very sorry for myself now that we are in the high 70s and seeing Spring.

      Postponing the birthday until this weekend, when I am hopefully better. How about you extend Ted's birthday another week and join me? LOL.

      Oh, lovely Chardonnay and avocados. We can start there and move along...!

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    2. What a lovely idea, I do so wish that we could. :)

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