I’m Not Complaining, Just A Few Suggestions

I hope everyone had a great holiday season.  Janet, Jessie and I had 3 Christmas celebrations apiece, so we had a very happy holiday season!  If the past few days are any indication, 2012 will be another good year for us.  Here’s hoping that good cheer extends to the rest of the country. I’m pretty sure it won’t, not for everyone, but I can hope.

Book Update: My editor (Thanks, Cheryl!) gave my rough draft back yesterday and I started working on the third draft this morning.  It’s starting to look like an actual book now.  A book people might actually read.  We’ll see.  I love the suggestions she gently made for the story line.  The new ideas make the book bigger and better.  I could be biased, though.

I don’t like to complain…okay, that’s a lie…but something has been bugging me for a while and I just have to write a word or two on the subject.  Why are we such bad drivers?  Why do you insist on being in front of just one more person (me) when there isn’t anyone behind me?  Why did you buy a car that doesn’t come with turn signals?  Did you have to pull out in front of me, causing me to slam on my brakes, and then turn left 100 yards down the road?  That’s rude.

I learned to drive in Seattle, a gentle town to learn to drive…during the 80s.  I moved, in the early 90s to Tulsa, then to Texas, on to North Carolina and back to Texas, etc.  The southerners residing in those states scared me, just a little, on the road.  They were nothing like the gentle Seattleites of my youth.  The very people who would slow down and let you get in front of them.  All you had to do was use your turn signal.  Good times.

After living in Austin the past decade, I was looking forward to those same gentle drivers, the kind souls who had all the time in the world to get to their destinations.  People who knew the rules of the road, waved at you with all their fingers, and always had a smile on their face.  I’m thinking those people have all moved, died, or are in jail.  Either that or California drivers have taken over the whole west coast.

Depending on which survey you read, and I’ve read a few the last couple of days, the vast majority of drivers (let’s say 70%) think they are above average in their driving skills.  Those same people, who think they are great drivers, believe the vast majority of other drivers (again, let’s say 70%) are terrible.  It appears some of us are kidding ourselves about our great driving skills.  I’m not a mathmagician, but those percentages look kinda funny.

Since I’m trying to complain less this year (one of 50 resolutions and one of the few Janet actually supports 100%), I decided to make some helpful suggestions instead.  If I made the rules, you should be happy I don’t, I would make everyone take the written and driving test every 10 years until you are 60.  Then every 5 years.  I can’t seem to make anyone at the DMV believe I am the Queen, so I’m going to try and explain the rules of the road here, just in case you forgot along your journey.

The Yield sign.  This is a hard one for us Americans.  Yield is not Latin for ‘hey, you got here first, go for it!’  Yield means STOP, unless there’s no one coming.  It gives you the legal right to make a California stop, which is where you roll through the stop sign without coming to a complete stop.  Yes, that’s illegal, Californians.  You are yielding the right of way to someone else, the person who will run into you if you don’t stop.  This is tied closely with:

The Traffic Circle.  Or, as a friend in high school called them, The Flaming Circles of Death.  These scare me.  A lot.  When approaching a circle, slow down and look to your left, left I say.  If no one is coming you can proceed.  But if there are cars in the circle, please wait ‘til they pass, slamming on ones brakes is never a fun thing to do.  I might spill my coffee.

Stop Signs.  I’m not sure when it became okay for people who have a stop sign to pull out in front of cars who don’t have a stop sign but it is highly annoying.  Stop doing that.  But, if you insist on pulling out in front of me, drive like you have a purpose.  When did it become okay to inconvenience another person so you yourself don’t have to be inconvenienced?  Oh, and if you are turning right on a red light?  That’s a stop sign, not a yield (see “The Yield Sign” above).

Turn Signals.  While living in Texas, I learned turn signals on new cars are optional.  At least that is what I assume.  YOUR turn signals are for ME.  MY turn signals are for YOU.  I know where I am going, and you know where you are going, but I have no earthly idea why you are stopped in the middle of the road.  Did you break down?  Did you pass out?  Oh, you’re turning left?  Now if only they would come up with a system where you could let me know you are turning left (or changing lanes) with only a flick of the wrist.

Lights.  My lights are on all the time.  Wasteful?  Maybe.  But I want to be seen when it’s overcast, or gray, or rainy.  When is that?  All the time!  I live in the Pacific Northwest.  Turn your lights on if it’s not sunny out…which is all the time out here.  In North Carolina, they had to pass a law which said, ‘if you are using your windshield wipers you must have your lights on,’ because people didn’t use their headlights and were run off the road because no one knew they were there.  Which leads me to:

Blind Spots.  They are named ‘blind spots’ because you can’t see those spots from your rearview mirrors.  Please turn your head and check before you come on over.  I might be camped in your blind spot just waiting for you to put a fresh dent in my little car.  Which brings me to a very important part of the driving experience:

Freeways.  Where do I start?  Keep in mind: the whole point of a freeway is to go with the flow.  Let’s talk about on-ramps and off-ramps.  On-ramps are for accelerating and off-ramps are for decelerating.  You are not supposed to accelerate or decelerate on the actual freeway, that’s what the ramps are for.  If you are trying to merge onto a freeway, which has a speed limit of 60, going 35 miles an hour it will be very difficult. You’ve encountered this problem, yes? If you are near your exit and you slow down to 40 to hit the off-ramp, you are disrupting the flow of the freeway.  The left lane of a freeway, which has 3 lanes, is for passing ONLY.  I’m not sure who told you it was okay to get on the freeway, merge all the way to your left (without using your turn signals, of course), and drive in the far left lane; they were wrong.  The far left lane is for passing only.  If you are not passing someone, move over.  I don’t care what the speed limit is: move over for the law breakers.  It’s all about the flow.

I feel better, thanks.  I’m pretty sure I’m one of the good drivers, the rest of you people are pretty bad.  I didn’t even touch on texting and phone use, which is bad unless I’m doing it.  I think our biggest problem is the sense of urgency most people drive with now.  And the feeling that my personal life is more important than yours, which is the reason I’m going around all you people and cutting in just before the on-ramp I need.  Because I have important matters to attend to…like the episode of Bones I desperately need to stream right now.

 

jenn

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “I’m Not Complaining, Just A Few Suggestions

  1. Um, I think that in Rhode Island drivers’ ed- for those who actually went, versus those who had a father who knew somebody who could get a completion certificate for them- I think they teach that using turn signals runs down the battery, that Rhode Island is so small that everyone knows where you are going anyhow, so to not run down the battery and if you think that people are being too “newsy” ( a Rhode Islandism) use the opposite turn signal for the direction that you are really going to turn and finally, if you really want to show everyone that you are made of money keep your turn signal on for miles and miles as you go down the highway and waste a lot of electricity. Hey, I wasn’t born here. I am just sayin’

    • That’s funny! I noticed Rhode Islanders do things and move at their own pace. The one time I flew out there, it took 30 minutes to deplane because everyone knew everybody else – except for me – and it was kind of a welcome home party on the plane. The Rhode Islanders seem like very nice people, though. We’ll have to come visit again.

  2. karyn

    Interesting. I completely agree on the turn signals. If folks would just put their cell phones and fast food down they could use their signals. On the yield I must admit I’ve been guilty of rushing in front of someone. What would I do if McDonald’s ran out of food? It could happen if I didn’t manage to get 2 seconds in front of a car. Oh, then there is a traffic circle. What the heck are those? Californians just aren’t accustomed and have no desire to get accustomed. Speaking as a native Californian of course. Finally, the far left lane of the freeway. I was shocked by this passing lane only news. I never heard that before. Remember born and raised in California over here. I had to hit the books on this one. Ok not really a book. The internet. I found the California driving manual saying the far left lane known as lane 1 is for driving faster, passing or something else. I stopped reading since my question was answered. Whew. No crime in driving in that lane. So Jenn you’re right, California drivers are taking over the roads. And we can’t be bothered with learning traffic laws in other states. We can’t even follow our own traffic laws. I’ll call you tomorrow from the road. HA HA!

    • Thanks, Karyn, it’s nice to see someone admit they take liberties with a yield every now and then. I do not like traffic circles, not even a little bit. I always feel like people are watching me, on screen, saying, ‘Jenn! Don’t go into the circle! You could die!’ Especially in Texas where people yield to their right in traffic circles! We even have signs, here in Washington, saying, please don’t drive in the left lane, it is for passing only. I guess those people are busy eating McDonald’s while texting their families, they don’t have time to read silly road signs. And yes, I blame you Californians for a lot of things, but you sure do have a beautiful state.

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