I Am a Leaf on the Wind

Salt Lake City

Image by mariancall via Flickr

Lately I’ve been thinking of myself as Wash and all of the other drivers around me as Reavers.* I’m trying to be calm and cool and just try not to get their attention as I drive to the grocery store or to Girl Scouts or home from the library.

Even so, I get honked at practically every time I get on the road.

I’m not a bad driver. In fact, my driving skills are beyond reproach (with the occasional lapse when I’m managing snack-related arguments between my crew members or playing dinosaurs on my control panel). But I recognize that there are a few things I do as a driver that are unconventional.

For example:

-I prefer to drive the speed limit, plus or minus 5 miles per hour. (“Plus” when I’m in a hurry or there’s a driving song on the stereo; “minus” when the weather is inclement or there are road hazards.)

-I use my signals to alert other drivers of my intent to move in a manner that doesn’t follow the natural curve of the road. When a fellow driver uses his or her turn signal, I do my best to make a space for their vehicle if I can do so safely. I expect that other drivers will do the same rather than speeding up when they see I want to move into their lane.

-If there is a stopped emergency vehicle, I slow down and/or move to a lane further from the emergency vehicle, if possible.

-I obey traffic signals.

-I do not turn left into oncoming traffic, even if the person sitting behind me thinks it’s clear.

-I do my best to avoid hitting pedestrians and bicyclists.

-I use my horn prudently, mostly when I want to alert a fellow driver of a danger they may not have noticed (like my vehicle in the space they’re attempting to occupy) or a light that changed while they were texting/dialing/putting on the next audiobook for their kids.

-I avoid road hazards by slowing down and moving to another lane, if possible (see note above regarding turn signals).

-I don’t pass on the right if I can help it, and I never cross a double yellow unless it’s to avoid hitting a cyclist or a road hazard.

Perhaps it’s these quirks to which other drivers are reacting. The state didn’t require me to take a written test to get my new driver’s license, so maybe I’m incorrect in my application of some of these driving habits. Perhaps my fellow drivers are just trying to help me learn the correct driving laws with their honking, tailgating, and bird-flipping. If this is the case, I appreciate their intention, but I find their methods to be a little extreme and imprecise.

It’s also possible that my fellow drivers are hyper-aggressive cannibals having an adverse reaction to government-sponsored atmospheric additives meant to soothe the populace.

In either case, I might try to stay off the roads as much as possible.

*If you don’t catch the Firefly reference, I strongly encourage you to watch the entire series and the movie Serenity as soon as you’re done reading this post. Which is now. Go!

5 comments

  1. jackie · November 15, 2011

    heh, they don’t call ’em *mass-holes* for nothin! defensive driving seemed like nothing more than a concept there, from what i remember, not an actual practice. just wait till there’s inclement weather adding to the excitement. fun times. stay safe, friend!

    Like

  2. Melanie Meadors · November 15, 2011

    Oh, I just love driving between Thanksgiving and New Years…. NOT. You probably don’t drive much on Lincoln St in Worcester, but my advice during this time of year is: Don’t. You can literally sit there and watch people get into car accidents before your eyes. Multiple accidents. Last year we saw one lady’s car get absolutely creamed, major damage, and the other car sped off. Seconds later, a fender bender. Then someone hit our car while we were sitting at a light, and they took off too. I stopped paying attention after that. I really wish people in MA made it easier to have positive thoughts… There’s a reason they call us “M*ssholes.”

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    • CJ · November 15, 2011

      I’m not positive since I’m pretty dependent on the GPS still, but I think Lincoln St is where the guy honked at me today because I wouldn’t hit a bicyclist. What circle of hell is reserved for someone who sets up an auto vs bike challenge like that? I’d rather risk the circle of hell reserved for drivers who swear loudly at other drivers while pointing and yelling, “Do you SEE THAT? That’s a BICYCLIST! I don’t care how much you honk, I’m NOT HITTING a BICYCLIST!” (You can use your creativity to add the profanity in there. I generally use it to modify every noun and verb, and to fill in for the name of the person at whom I’m yelling.) And I won’t even mention how anxious this makes me about my husband’s bike commute. Thank goodness it’s only 2.5 miles.

      Like

  3. Melanie Meadors · November 15, 2011

    LOL I spewed tea at your first line!!!!!

    And THIS is why I don’t drive. Yes, sure, we don’t have the cash for a second car, but even if we did…. IT’S A MADHOUSE OUT THERE!!!!

    Like

    • CJ · November 15, 2011

      It really is absurd on the roads around here. The past two days have been especially bad, and I’m not sure why. Maybe people are getting into the holiday spirit(s)?

      Like

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