Road Sage

I’ve come to a conclusion about bad drivers: none of them is ever me. RoadRage

I find myself screaming nearly every day on my commute to work: “What’s wrong with you?” or “Hang up your phone and drive!” or “Hey jerk, you just ran a red light!” or “What is your hurry; where’s the fire?” or “Why can’t you hurry up, I don’t have all day here?”

So many people to yell at; so many mistakes to point out. It’s exhausting! By the time I reach my office in the morning I can barely pour that first cup of coffee. I feel as if I’ve already worked half a day. Somehow I forge ahead confident in my superior driving technique. I am keenly aware of the bad drivers and can spot them immediately. Beware of the following:

The Radio Singer – this person is rehearsing for their big break on American Idol and they often forget that they are actually behind the wheel of a car. Sometimes they need a friendly toot at a stop light that has already turned green while they’re hitting their high note. Repeated honk-honk-honking can sometimes move them along.

The Bobber & Weaver – this person seems uncertain just what those painted lines on the freeway mean. They often bank their car from side to side in any (sometimes multiple) lane(s). Repeated honk-honk-honking makes them look around and only aggravates the situation.

The Slow Middle Laner – this driver only drives in the middle lane and annoyingly drives the speed limit. Apparently they have never heard of the 5-over rule; which of course means you can always drive at least 5 miles over the speed limit (even in the slow lane). In Illinois it’s the 10-over rule. Repeated honk-honk-honking only seems to strengthen their resolve.

The Braker – this guy hits his brakes every time he sees ANY tail light come on. It doesn’t matter if the illuminated tail light is a half mile ahead. This of course creates a chain reaction for other Brakers (and necessitates the use of curse words for the good drivers like me). Repeated honk-honk-honking just creates more braking.

The Tailgater – this person follows too closely behind the person if front of him (or her). Also known as “riding one’s butt”. This driver believes that they can accelerate the car in front simply by pushing them down the road. This rarely works (See The Slow Middle
Laner above). Repeated honk-honk-honking rarely works either.

The Cell Phone Talker – this driver is so enthralled in some conversation that they often SLOW DOWN to listen. Repeated honk-honk-honking can sometimes jolt them into consciousness and safe-driving.

The Makeup Artist – this driver is usually a woman (although not exclusively) who uses her morning commute as an opportunity to prepare herself to look lovely for the day. Repeated honk-honk-honking can really screw up her ability to apply her mascara properly.

Last year we lived in England. Sometimes I miss life there, with the narrow roads, left-hand driving, right-hand steering wheels. I knew there that I was the bad driver. It also recently occured to me that all the honk-honk-honking in the U.K. might have been directed at me.

Maybe it’s time for a foreign road trip. I could probably use a little humility. On the other hand, it’s good to be the smartest driver on the road.



Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Do you remember the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? I remember it as the first time I ever saw a car with the steering wheel on the right (or the left if you’re facing the car, but you know what I mean). At the time I thought it was movie magic. Now I know that there is nothing magical about it.

I’ve spent the last 40 years driving on the right side of the road. Now much to my chagrin the right is WRONG. Driving here in England is like trying to write with my left hand – I can do it but the results aren’t all that good. So I am driving very S L O W L Y. I’ve garnered lots of attention with my careful driving and in a Peugeot® to boot! Actually I’ve only been honked at once but I’ve been stared at quite a bit whilst making my WIDE LEFT TURNS. Oh well, I’ll just keep a stiff upper lip (actually my bottom lip is numb from biting it).

Peugeot - French for lousy

Yesterday was my first official day of driving ‘the correct way’ as my English colleague Mark calls it. Turns out yesterday was also my first official driving incident as well. After leaving the village of Cricklade on my return to the hotel in Swindon I noticed the car driving roughly. Keep in mind it’s a Peugeot® so I wasn’t initially alarmed. But when the car began shaking violently I knew it wasn’t just poor French engineering. I had a tire blowout on the A419 Carriageway, which is a highway by U.S. standards but with no shoulder.

I prayed and then cursed (or maybe it was the other way around) but thankfully was able to get the car to a grassy shoulder. I wasn’t hurt, the car wasn’t damaged (except the left front tire which is shredded) and Avis had the emergency road service lorry there within an hour or so. Things could have been much worse.

So my day of sight-seeing and exploring Wiltshire came to an abrupt end. I did the ‘drive of shame’ back to the Blunsdon House Hotel with a tiny front tire on my rental car. Defeated, I parked the car and went to my room.

My Saturday adventure was more adventurous than I had hope. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang never got a flat tire on A419! All in all, it was still a beautiful day and perhaps I’ve gotten all my driving bad luck out-of-the-way, but I doubt it. The good news is that I was back out today with no incidents to report. I found my way to ASDA® (it’s the Super Wal-Mart® here in the U.K.) and back to the hotel with a little the help from the GPS – she has a really lovely British accent. So with my confidence restored, I’ll keep motoring on.

See you on the round-about!