Now that I have gotten a somewhat respectable (albeit temporary) job, I have once again joined the ranks of the thousands of commuters who drive the freeway to get to the office every day. And in so doing, I’m getting a grasp on what it was I missed out during my time of unemployment.
Take, for example, today.
While traveling down the southbound 405 into Orange County, I witnessed a woman that was slowly–and I mean slowly–making lane changes whenever she had the opportunity to do so. The woman, in her 50s with a Moe Howard hairdo and driving an SUV, had her hands in the dreaded 10-and-2 position, a stance which indicates to us veteran drivers (click image above) that the driver of the vehicle is either a) offer her nut or b) just graduated from Sears Driving School yesterday.
Seriously, nobody drives that way in SoCal. If you do then you’re probably the type with a comb-over, thick, dirty prescription glasses, faded Bush/Cheney bumper stickers and ham radio call signs all over your beat-up Ford Festiva. A creepy dude. Me, I usually have my hands in the 7-and-bag-of-Carl’s Jr.-fries position. Because I’m cool like that and I don’t have a ham radio.
But what made this woman’s hand position even more malevolent was the fact that she wasn’t just holding the wheel that way. No, if that steering wheel could talk it would have probably said, “Jesus Christ, woman! Ease up!” Her grip was so tight on the wheel that, even though she was already a shade of pasty white, her knuckles were a whiter shade of pale that has yet to be named: Ultra White, Super White, Electromagnetic Spectrum White, Brilliant White…whatever. It seemed she was so fearful that someone would simulate a game of Spy Hunter by dropping an oil slick in her lane that removing one hand from the wheel, if only for a nanosecond, was unreasonable and most certainly would put her life in jeopardy.
That said, all of her lane changes where made without signalling. Yes, in her quest to survive any potential freeway catastrophe that a 50-something woman with cat-like reflexes (HA!) might encounter, she wasn’t thinking about all of the other drivers around here that she was cutting off–myself included.
Thanks for nothing, lady.
So then I got to thinking about the little things that I do to make my drive, as well was that of my fellow motorists, a bit easier and more friendly. I now proudly present that list along with a few other handy-dandy tips for anybody that cares to try them. Ready? Here we go.
Don’t Cut People Off. If this one isn’t a great, big DUH then I don’t know what is. I don’t care if it’s the spiky-haired Asian kid pushing his used Honda Civic to its mechanical limits or a Soccer Mom in an SUV, it’s just rude and inconsiderate. So quit fucking doing it already, which leads to…
Use Your Signals. Mrs. Moe Howard obviously didn’t use hers for fear of losing control of her vehicle (?) but hey, at least she would be safe, right? SUVs can survive anything, correct? My ESP is in the shop so I can’t predict what everybody is going to do, which is why signals have been standard features on cars since, I dunno, almost forever? They didn’t cost you extra so use the goddamn things. This is much like the previous rule: common sense. Hey, this one leads to…
I Will Let You Over. Here’s one that I do each day. If I see someone with their signal on while traffic is crawling, I will give them space to make the lane change. However, my generosity will only last 10 seconds from the time I see the signal flashing. If you can’t make it over during the time I give you and there’s still space in front of me, you lost your chance to get over and I will speed past you. And for shit’s sake, don’t honk at me when you realize too late that you had the chance and I got tired of waiting. Sorry buddy, but I gotta get to work, too.
Lessons On Turning Right. This one isn’t so much as rule as it is a pet peeve of mine that I seem to be experiencing much more lately. The problem is that when turning right, people aren’t doing it the right way. I once saw someone in a Toyota Corolla make a right turn like she was maneuvering a fucking school bus around the corner. No, no, and no. This kind of turn is especially bad on a busy street where you will hold up traffic–and most likely cause an accident. I don’t know who is teaching people to drive these days but goddamnit, teach them how to make a proper right turn! If you need a diagram then please, download this image, study it, and fuckin’ DO IT already!
Ignore Accidents. I know I know, it’s hard to ignore a train wreck. It’s like watching a NASCAR race in the hopes of seeing some redneck hillbilly crash his million-dollar corporate-sponsored car into the wall at Daytona. But fuck, people! If you’re traveling southbound and the accident is on the northbound side of the freeway (read: nowhere near you), is there a need to stop and stare? No, there isn’t. Let it go and get your ass moving, man. I gave up that shit years ago when I realized how stupid it was to be doing it.
Here’s a related story. I was driving home one rainy night and traffic was starting to slow due to an accident. It was hard to miss–CHP lights were flashing everywhere. As I was sitting there moving at a snail’s pace I hear the sound of tires swooshing across wet pavement and then a loud crash. Yep, some asshole was too busy watching the action on the side of the freeway and rammed into the car stopped in front of him. It’s a good thing it happened just feet away from the CHP officer who, as I glanced in my rearview mirror, was standing there shaking his head in disgust.
See? Those aren’t so hard to do, now are they?
Oh and here’s a special note to the State of California: get rid of the carpool lanes. The only people that use those are asshole contractors late for a job and self-righteous yuppies driving their Priuses…Priii…fuck it, hybrids. Imagine how much more smoothly our daily commute would be if everybody had access to an additional freeway lane.
It would be damn near perfect, and give us a better opportunity to evade that crazy-ass white-knuckled lady who keeps cutting everybody off.