Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Driving Etiquette

I'm listening to Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrel on audio. Two words. Modern. Masterpiece. Sure, it takes two or three disks to get into the groove of the story, which takes its sweet time. But once it rolls, it lays out beautifully.

The entrance ramp to the freeway closest to my house is also the exit ramp to an intersecting freeway. New England drivers have no concept of the zipper effect, or slowing down, or any notion of courtesy. I'm surprised my wife thought California drivers were so bad. She has since admitted that the contrast might not have been as wide as she had imagined.

Normally I don't give into the precepts of road rage, but this morning I made a small exception. I pulled onto the launch pad that is my entrance ramp, and waited for gap to present itself. A Toyota pick-up signaled to exit, so I accelerated to full speed to enter so that he could fall behind me. He had to play ball by slowing down a tad, something I do every time when the roles are reversed. This guy however was inflamed, giving me the double bird with his forearms resting on the steering wheel. I would understand were I going thirty, but I was at even pace with traffic--we simply had to swap places.

This happened to me five or so months ago in a similar situation, when I was entering another freeway from a ramp. Some lady came roaring around me, window down yelling curses and waving the middle finger, because I had deigned to share the road with her.

These things store up.

So this morning, still smarting from that time before, and feeling indignant at his outburst, I gave him that pointless gesture in return, along with some lip movements I'm sure he was able to read. For one brief moment, I wanted to pull over and teach him some driving etiquette.

So here's a driving lesson for you egocentric one-man-island people. When exiting the freeway, slow the hell down and pay attention.


Kathleen said...

We have an entrance/exit ramp I have to drive regularly like that. I have to say that although Michigan isn't exactly known for its courteous drivers, that everybody there, generally behaves and people exchange spots pretty well.

And since this is Detroit, I generally don't give anybody the finger. I don't want to get shot. I regularly call people names, however, with Dickweed being my favorite for the past few months or some creative variation thereof.

Scott said...

I'm generally cautious for the same reaons, but I get tired of these kinds of people on the road. I see it all the time, and not just when I have been the cause. It's irrational how angry people get, and when I see it, I want to follow that person to wherever they are going and have them committed to an institution.

fringes said...

That anger is irrational. Wow. I don't think another driver in Texas has been verbally rude to me. Well, except for that time (and many other times) I was in the pedestrian crosswalk with a kid and this woman insisted on making the right on red in an assassination attempt on her way to the mall. I asked her very politely WTF and she yelled at us to walk faster. Pedestrians are target practice in the great state of Texas.

Anthony J. Rapino said...

Hell yes!

I think bad drivers anger me more than anything. It's like once they get into a car, they can do whatever they want--and they do. And God forbid you get in their way (whether or not you had the right-of-way)


Scott said...

Erica - Actually, Houston has been host to some of my worst driving experiences. The average speed on Beltway 8 is 75ish. That part I don't mind actually.

Tony - I clearly didn't have the right of way in this situation. When I'm in that guys situation, which I am every day when I exit on my ramp opposite this location, I slow down and signal. A few cars getting on see this and take advantage of the moment to get on, then I slip behind them. I could be a bully and go balls out until I get to my ramp, and I would be within my rights, but I would still be an asshole.

fringes said...

And whatever happened to the thank-you wave?

Jaye Wells said...

Fringes said: "And whatever happened to the thank-you wave?"

Amen, sister!

Dallas traffic sucks, but after being in Atlanta last week I don't think we have it so bad. The freeway in Atlanta was bumper to bumper at midnight--no wreck!

Scott said...

Erica - You're right of course. The thank you wave is far more damaging to the others serenity.

Jaye - Houston traffic can be just awful. And don't miss your exit. The next one could be ten miles away. And that's considered a short hop. I don't know how that compares to Atlanta though. I'm lucky here in New England. My commute doesn't involve mind boggling traffic jams. Unlike in the San Francisco area, there always seems to be a way around if you just take the time to figure it out beforehand. Even winging it bears fruit.

Kathleen said...

A definite Amen, sister to both fringes & Jayes Wells.

Writing Blind said...

I thought only people in South Carolina couldn't drive. Nice to know it's not just us.

mr. schprock said...

Welcome to Massachusetts, Scott. Courtesy is for chumps. Showing regard for your fellow man is a sign of weakness. I had to learn that when I took the driving test.

trinamick said...

That's one reason I'm glad I don't live in the city. I have enough road rage just because of the old farts and idiots in my small town. If I had to deal with non-stop traffic full of morons, I would freak right out.

Bailey Stewart said...

Yeah, but you have to be careful here in Texas - liable to get shot, there's a lot of roadrage. I don't drive any more than I have to.

Anonymous said...

A general willingness to work together is woefully lacking.

Here's my pet peeve. Up ahead, your two lane road becomes one lane either from a bottleneck or construction. If you are in the left (surviving) lane, don't go roaring forward to pass cars in the right lane if the reduction is in sight. Slow the frig down, and let the merge happen in an orderly manner rather than running a bunch of people off the road.

I love the 50 yards from the merge slow-speed pass maneuver.

Moni said...

I'm usually a pretty laid back person, I take a lot from people, but rude drivers make me loose it. I guess it's misplaced anger or something. They feel belittled maybe at work, at home, maybe they didn't get any the night before. Who knows?

I guess they think since their lives aren't going well, it gives them license(pardon the pun) to get behind the wheel and act like jerks.

My ex actually spat on a car in rush hour traffic while we were living in DC. Well, in that case you have to consider both sources. Ha!

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

I used to get quite bad road rage when riding the motorbike because you are so much more vulnerable.

I heard a story once about a guy who was knocked off his 'bike at low speed.

The driver of the SUV that hit him was completely oblivious to what had happened, stopping a short distance away in stationary traffic.

Our biker friend calmly picked himself up, walked up to the offending vehicle, sprayed chain lube all over the windshield, smashed the door mirrors with his bike lock, then sauntered back to his bike and rode off.

The driver of the SUV just sat there looking dumbstruck

Bernita said...

Things that inspire road rage par excellence with me are those who only signal at the point of turn, or then turn in the opposite direction, and those %$#@*& who ignore the flashing lights/sirens of emergency vehicles - even when they are crawling up their bumpers.
That's when I crave an AK_47.