The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Driver's Ed for Dummies

Have you ever noticed that we--you guys and me--are the only folks out there who know how to drive? I used to think I was the only one but you guys are all so cool that I'm forced to assume that you also know how to drive; you just don't share the local roads with me, more's the pity. Clearly, driver's education isn't what it ought to be. If they asked me, I'd be happy to write a new one for them that is both clear and concise. That crap about it being illegal to back around a corner? Toss that one. Who does that, anyway? I say if you're dumb enough to back around a corner where you can't see, you kind of deserve the goodly smack your car is likely to get for it. Some of the other stuff is just isn't written clearly. I'd like to suggest some...modifications, if I may:

The proper distance for beginning to slow down before making a turn in heavy traffic is something less than a mile and a half. In fact, it's less than a BLOCK and a half. Please. Planning ahead is great for estate lawyers but there can be too much of it in driving.

To correctly operate a motor vehicle, it is best to pay attention to the motor vehicle and all of the things outside of it which would not benefit from being smacked by it. For instance, your nails, your paperback, your radio, your bowl of cereal, and your make-up are all slightly lower down on the list of importance then the cars in around you and the old lady in the crosswalk.

It's really easy to remember: G for green, G for go. Memorize it, people.

Signalling for turns should happen slightly more often than "when you feel like it". Surprises are fun on your birthday; less so in heavy traffic in the rain when you need a braking distance of more than 2 feet.

The police officer on the side of the road waiting to give you remedial driving lessons actually doesn't mind if you go the speed limit. And it's not like going below the speed limit now will somehow get banked with him and applied to the overage the next time he sees you speeding. Quit staring at the cop and drive the damned speed limit.

Remember how in grade school if you take "cuts" in line someone was quite likely to punch you in the head? I can't do that now because the police frown on it and because I can't punch you and drive at the same time...but if you know that the right lane is ending and you speed up and go all the way to the end of it so you can slip in ahead of all the people who waited patiently? Well, you suck. And it's all right with me if you sit there for two hours while no one lets you in because you took cuts.

The far left lane is for cars that are going fairly quickly. The other lanes are for the slower cars. Maybe put a post-it on your dashboard to help you remember this. Trust me when I say that no one stuck behind you going 3 miles below the speed limit in the fast lane is impressed with your virtuousness.

It is really not essential that you slow down in order to look at the accident in the oncoming lane, thus slowing down THIS lane which wasn't actually blocked until you came along. I promise--the accident site does not contain a supermodel in a bikini/winning lottery numbers/secret to calorie-free chocolate (believe me--I'd slow down for that one) or a hunky, naked firefigher just waiting to make eye contact with you.

When right-of-way is in doubt, it is a kindness to gesture to the other person that they may go first. It is likewise a kindness for them to offer that gesture to you. But please--for the love of every wool bearing mammal: if they gesture to you to go, GO. The 5 minutes you two spend in your little "no, you go" lovefest are 5 minutes of lifetime I won't get back. JUST. GO.

Tailgating me does not make me drive faster. Particularly on a curvy road with a drop off and very low guardrails. In fact, it tends to make me drive more slowly in shocking disregard for your frustration. What can I say--I'm like that. Either ask me out or back off.

The color yellow, when used on a traffic light, is to tell you to slow down and stop because the light will be turning red. Many people believe a yellow light to mean "go like hell before it turns red." These people are incorrect and it seriously burns my toast when half my green is wasted waiting for you to run your red.

It is not okay to pull into oncoming traffic and then slow down to a crawl. If you do it, please be prepared to interpret a colorful assortment of hand gestures, many of which will describe anatomical impossibilities.

The lines marking off parking spaces are not suggestions. Before you leave your vehicle, consider whether I will be able to get into mine without the aid of a can opener. If I cannot (and be advised here that I am fully 5'8" tall and not built like Kate Moss in her Calvin Klein days), consider moving your vehicle a few inches to the left. Consider it really hard.

Singing along with the radio is good. A little driver's seat boogie is also good. A base system that pumps out rap music so loud that the the local seismic center employees are running around frantically and blaming the utterly innocent local volcanoes--less good. If you want to blow out your eardrums, please be considerate and do it at home.

It's called rain. We see it a lot here. It is not shards of glass/sprinklings of nails/frogs/fish/crude oil/naked men. It is nothing that requires you to slow down to 20 miles an hour and drive with white knuckles for the rest of your journey.

Diving in front of me because you're tired of waiting for an opening in traffic and you figure I'll stop is making a rather risky assumption about the condition of both my brakes and the road. We won't even talk about the assumption you're making about my patience, other than to say it's probably misguided.

If you suddenly see your freeway exit on the far right from where you're driving on the far left and you would have to cross 4 lanes of traffic in about 10 feet, you've missed your exit.

Why, yes. I DID go out driving this morning. How did you know? I had to drive to a doctor's appointment because it's been a full year since a slender and beautiful woman of about 12 in a white coat looked me over and started 70% of her sentences with the phrase "you're getting to the age where..." and so my self-esteem was in danger of picking up. Thankfully, I got that taken care of.

Is it remotely possible that my judgement of other drivers was adversely affected by the cruel reminders of my aging body?

Nah. We're just the only ones who know how to drive.


  • At 2:20 PM, Blogger Jo said…

    Well apart from the fact that they actually teach us to reverse around corners...yes really, and even make it part of the driving test...I've been waiting for you to do this...I think about it every time I go out in my car and am frustrated by the same idiots that clog your highway.

  • At 2:34 PM, Blogger Marianne said…

    HEH! the neighbor across the street will 'back around the corner'...and that slowing down to take the turn? have you been riding with my Mother?!?
    and don't even get me started on that 'cutting in' crap...huh uh.

  • At 4:47 PM, Anonymous MonicaPDX said…

    Ohgawd... Yeah, what's with the folks who live in the PNW and dunno how to deal with a little hydroplaning? (We know how to deal with ice and snow. Unless you ski or snowboard a lot and go up in the mountains in winter, or are from elsewhere and learned to drive in those conditions, stay. The. Hell. Home. [g])

    Other things that always got me:
    1) Having lived in the country for a while, I can empathize with deprived city-folks' appreciation for the beauties of nature, not to mention cute fuzzy sheep (cute from a distance, anyway) and the novelty of horses and cows. But for chrissakes, we who live here are trying to get someplace. Most of the roads are only 2 lanes wide, with few straight stretches to pass on. If you're out for a Sunday drive to look at the scenery, wouldja just find a place to pull off on the shoulder and look, already, so we could get back to our regular speed of 70 or so? Otherwise we're gonna pass your slow ass as soon as we can, 'cause we know the roads, and also know that we can make it - if barely - on that straight stretch coming up after the Alder Creek turn-off. But you'll likely need some clean underwear after we do it 'cause you didn't think it was possible.
    2) Having lived in the country for a while... [g] On the other hand, country people who are stupid enough to stop their cars in the middle of the road on the wrong side of a blind curve to sit there and have a chat from their cars while parked are too stupid to live. And you keep that up, you likely won't. Haven't you noticed the rest of us drive like bats outta hell out here?
    3) Back to sightseers... Mountains + roads = steep and curvy, even the freeways. If you're a flatlander with little experience in mountain driving, especially one in an RV, those slow lanes and pull-outs are there for a reason. Look away from the gorgeous scenery at 2,000 ft. and glance at your rear-view mirror once in a while, so you can give the 38 cars stuck behind you a chance to pass you occasionally, huh? We understand that A) you're enjoying our beautiful scenic wonders, and B) your vehicle can only go so fast up a 45 degree grade. Why do you think we added an extra lane/pullouts on the steep sections anyway? Because we had some excess federal highway grant money we couldn't find a use for? Don't be ridiculous. One more mile at 35 mph on a freeway, even if it does seem like it's going straight up to you, and the highway patrol will pull you over. Trust me on this.

    (I heard from an online friend that a friend of hers was visiting OR and driving our old Hwy. 101, which runs along the coast. It's been re-done and turned into a freeway now, but it used to be about as bad as the fabled road to Hana on Maui was, before they widened that. 2 narrow lanes, no shoulders, made by a snake, cliffs on one side, ocean on the other throughout most of it. And yes, I can attest to that road to Hana resemblance - I've driven both. [g] At least 101 had 2-lane bridges... Anyway, the speed limit on the OR section of the old 101 was about 45 mph. This woman was not used to the curves. She was going 35 or slower. She literally did get stopped by a state trooper and got ticketed for driving too slow.)

  • At 7:25 PM, Blogger beckie said…

    I live in a college town right now..Just terrible. Apparently the lights mean nothing as you see more cars go through the lights when it is red than when it is green! And I have to drive for my job.. Someday I am just going to ram someone..People are soooooooooooooooooo dumb in their driving skills. Arg!

    (I can rant and rave about this for a very long time, I am glad you can too!)

  • At 12:02 AM, Anonymous angie Cox said…

    Now I know why I never learned to drive , it sounds complicated but definately worth concentrating on. I fear my mind might wander off to some pattern ...but then I loathe cars so my mind screams "get me outa here , I'm in a tin can". I need space , luckily the bus , train driver etc have all the responsibility while I sit back and relax ( not true my feet are about the only means of travel I really trust !).

  • At 8:40 AM, Blogger Kitty Mommy said…

    Ugh. The twelve more cars that just have to make it through the yellow light are one of my biggest pet peeves.

    But unfortunately, I am just spacy enough these days that the mere suggestion of a hunky, naked fireman will now have me slowing down to rubberneck at accidents. Just in case, is all I'm sayin'. If I see the secret to calorie-free chocolate along the way, I'll pass on the info!

  • At 11:11 AM, Blogger ambermoggie said…

    hunky fireman, calorie free chocolate where???
    Flo you have to stop this posting when I'm drinking hot chocolate, tis fatal for the keyboard:)

  • At 12:23 PM, Blogger ccr in MA said…

    Tell it, sister! Can I have an amen!


Post a Comment

<< Home