Ponder this:

Saturday, June 19, 2010

June's Rules of the Road

I have never been involved in a road rage incident. Not even close.
Over the last several months, however, my drive to work has been increasingly frustrating. 
Now, you say, how can that be, since you live out there in the country* where, if you see fifty cars in a sixteen-mile one-way commute, it's a busy day?
I'll tell you how, after acknowledging that my gritted teeth probably have more to do with the fact that I don't want to go there than with the situations herein described, but be that as it may...

When I was a drunk, I sometimes drove my vehicle while under the influence (she admitted, shamefaced). I knew enough to scrupulously obey every traffic law and good-sense rule of which I was aware. I stopped at stop signs for four seconds ("1, 2, 3, 4"), looked back and forth several times before proceeding. I always signaled my turns well in advance.  I stayed far behind the car preceding me down the road, knowing my reaction time was, perhaps(!), faulty. I never drove over the speed limit. I became religious in my use of the car's cruise control. If the sign said "30MPH" I set the control at 30. On the interstate, where the speed limit is 65, I always always (well, mostly always) drove at 65MPH. By these methods I  managed never to be stopped for any traffic infraction and never got busted for driving while impaired.  
Those habits hang on. In particular the speed limit one. I know, within about twenty feet, give or take, the location on each of my regular routes where the speed limits change from 50 to 55, to 65, to 45, to 30, and finally back to 45, before I arrive at the office. I believe that it is efficient, as well as law-abiding, to travel at the posted speed limit.
The people who dawdle along on a two-lane, no-passing road at 45, where they could travel at 50 . . . bother me. (I'm not talking about farmers on tractors; I like to roll along behind them at a leisurely pace. That means Country to me . . . unless they're just coming back from spreading manure . . . I don't enjoy that quite so much.)
And the people who see me, three hundred feet away, rolling toward them at the prescribed 55MPH . . . why, O why, must they turn left into my lane so that I have the choice of rear-ending them or braking? It breaks my rhythm. Where that happens most often is at the mini-mart near the entrance to the interstate; there isn't enough space for me to "resume speed" on the cruise control before I make my left turn there.  Very inefficient.

Once I was following a woman through the village.  I was pleased that we both were toddling along at 30MPH, nicely spaced, nicely arranged. My right turn appeared; I turned on my directional signal. Her right directional signal went on too. She braked, slowed. And slowed. And slowed. And slowed! I was at a dead stop behind her. We were turning right!  My head dropped forward on my neck, my jaw slackened, my eyes widened, and I said to her from safe within my car, "When making a right turn, first: Come to a Compleeeete Stop." Snidely, I said that. But she couldn't hear me so she wasn't insulted. As I rolled my eyes, I caught the gaze of a man waiting to turn out of the street into which the woman and I were both turning. He had seen me, and since I was enunciating very clearly, he had read my lips and knew my frustration. He shook his head and grinned in sympathy. I burst into giggles. 

The drivers who really make me crazy are the ones who meander along varying their speed at random, now 40, now 45, now 35. I want them to choose a speed and stick to it, so I can set my cruise and stop trying to anticipate their next adjustment. They don't appear to be sightseeing, and they know I'm back there. What's wrong with them?

The state department of transportation is working on a bridge very near the entrance ramp I use. The workers have put up a YIELD sign and concrete barriers and traffic cones by the hundreds to direct everyone to merge into one lane where there used to be two, and where the ramp joins the road at a twenty-degree angle, as illustrated in "d - Tapered acceleration lane -Option 2" below. Is that even twenty degrees? It's tight, anyway.

What is irksome is that on random days, the YIELD sign is replaced by a STOP sign. Now look: it's tough enough to YIELD to somebody when we are all moving. To STOP and then start again requires me not only to use my mirrors, but to spin my head around like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. My head doesn't turn that far; I have to close my right eye and peer left-eyed over my left shoulder. Usually there's nobody coming (see * above), which makes the resulting neck sprain even more annoying.

Most bewildering of all are the big trucks. Those five-ton dump trucks that have signs on the back telling me "DO NOT FOLLOW. CONSTRUCTION VEHICLE."
If I turn onto a road behind them, how am I to get to work?


Recycled Cottage & Garden said...

ROFLOL.......I so know your pain, especially with all the construction zones in the Houston area. I just figure God is trying to keep me out of an accident when things won't let me get to where I am going in a timely way. Experienced it today having to go back to town near where I work to pick up an ink cartridge for the printer. My fault since I forgot to do it after work yesterday but my oh my people were so SLLLOOOOWWWW today.

Fran Hill said...

This is why I no longer drive and let the bus driver take all the strain.

#1Nana said...

I feel your pain. I, too, live in a rural area and it is so frustrating when the cars bunch up on the road...there are only a few of us driving, why do we have to huddle together? My husband rants about "precision driving." When there are two lanes going in the same direction and one car pulls out of the right lane, as if to pass, and then drives along going the exact same speed as the car next to him. UGHHHH!!!!

Friko said...

Hah, another driver, whose journeys are becoming an exercise in patience. Road rage? give in to it, girl!

I just read your previous post. A bummer!
Don't be afraid of radiotherapy, it's only a slightly biggish deal. Can't understand that a benign lump should need an 'ectomy.

Sorry you are having to make the decision. Not by yourself, I hope? Although, only you will ultimately know what to do.

English Rider said...

You should take out your phone and text whilst driving, to pass the time.

#1Nana said...

Hey English Rider...that was sarcasm, right?

My idol, Oprah, is waging a campaign to stop the use of cell phones and texting while driving...

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

You need one of those car horns that sounds like an enraged bull . Though , on second thoughts , that might completely discombobulate ditherers and you'd be held up for ever .
The word verification is tating . As in irri...... ?

Barb said...

You and my husband would be totally compatible while driving and could reinforce each other's frustrations. I could sit in the back seat and read my Kindle.

Anonymous said...

I like your rules of the road June... I mean, come on, one shouldn't be permitted to drive without a brain, after all. ;)

Susan said...

Oh my word, you sound just like my hubby. I certainly cannot say to you what I say to him, so I'll stay mum. We'll allow you to let off some steam and hopefully your commute will improve. I guess you can tell by my post, that I'm one of those "other" drivers, but I wont say which. Take care and enjoy your week.

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Cute post, June.... SLOOOOOWWWWW Drivers do drive me crazy also... The people who poke in the LEFT lane on the interstate are the worst!!!!! But--you are right... Texting should be banned while driving... Using the cellphone is bad enough, but texting is worse.

My hubby's pet-peave is having an OLD LADY (not me of course) in line in front of him at the store... She can't decide which lottery ticket to buy--and takes forever. Then she doesn't even get her checkbook out of her purse until after the total is rung up. Then--she can't find a pen. Then --it takes her another 10 minutes to write that check... ETC.ETC.ETC.... You know that woman I'm talking about, don't you????? You have one them up there too....ha ha


Joe Todd said...

Good luck on D day and I hope the traffic isn't a problem

Lynette said...

Haha, Joe Todd. A little nod to priorities? I guess it's a case of "worry about the little things, the big things will take care of themselves".

Lord Wellbourne said...

I'm afraid I'm one of those people who varies speed regardless of what the speed limit sign says. If the roadside scenery is pretty I go slowly. If it's unappealing I go 5 miles over the limit until I hit the next scenic spot. The bad part is that almost every roadway in Maine is beautiful once your're out of town.