Yes, it’s time for another of Rod’s Rants! They are really driving me crazy! Who? Who? I hear you ask – do you know you sound like an owl?
It’s Winnipeg drivers. I think driving and traffic and politeness have been on my mind since our winter in Mexico – and my last post on PV buses. I had two months without the responsibility, joys and frustrations of driving a car. Now I am back on the road and have to admit to showing my irritation at impatient and/or distracted drivers.
Now if they had to contend with the duties of the PV bus drivers I would find it easier to be more tolerant.
Meanwhile back in Winnipeg: yesterday I experienced the two extremes of drivers at red lights. The first was an example of the “Honk-a-second” I can’t give you the attribution for this – but the honk-a-second is the shortest time period yet discovered by humankind. It’s the time period between the traffic light turning green and the driver behind me honking his horn to get me moving. Urggggg that is irritating. Don’t these Drivers of Limited Thoughts (DOLTs) realize that someone might be coming through the yellow light – that it does take a moment to look both ways before proceeding, or that we don’t need the reflexes of a drag-racer to operate on the public streets?
These are the same individuals who don’t know the rules of the road and honk irritatedly at those of us who do, and who drive within those rules. The hackles of injustice rise on the back of my neck when I am honked at for daring to come to a complete stop at a stop sign! Or stopping when the light turns yellow (amber for the Brits). Yes, according to the Highway Code or Driver’s Handbook, yellow means stop!
At the other extreme are the Terribly Witless in Traffic (TWITs) who when stopped at a red light, one that only gives the line of cars about thirty seconds to get through, decide to start looking in their glove-box (have you ever put your gloves in there?) or checking their tweets (that sounds a bit rude actually), or doing something equally distracting, before looking up and discovering the light has turned green. They then amble across as the light changes again and the remaining line of vehicles has to wait for the next green.
These are the same drivers, I am sure, who amble along at half the speed limit, arrive near a traffic light, see it’s about to change and suddenly accelerate like a rocket leaving Cape Canaveral (did they change the name? I forget. Maybe it’s Cape Kennedy now). Unfortunately, the cars behind these erraticists (I just made that up – someone who makes an art of erratic behaviour, you heard it here first) don’t make it through the light! Like D.P. Gumby “It makes my head hurt!”.
The other day I was waiting to turn left (in North America this is a turn across oncoming traffic – the equivalent of a right turn in the UK) in a centre boulevard. There was a lot of traffic coming towards me, including a 200 ton semitrailer, so I waited patiently for a reasonable gap in the traffic before proceeding ahead. The DOLT behind me starting blowing his horn – honking his hooter (can you say hooter on WordPress?) and making wild gestures with his hands – well most of his hand anyway. Sorry mate, but I am not about to become a mass of car bits and dark stains on the tarmac under the impact of a 16 wheeler just to save you ten seconds on your journey!
Where is the middle of the road here? Can’t we learn to be attentive but reasonably cautious and polite? Why do normally responsible and reasonable people turn aggressive and nasty as soon as they slide behind the wheel of a car? Is it to do with that new car smell that doesn’t last too long? Is it the inhaling of the gasses that are given off by all the plastic in the car that creates these monsters?
How do I learn not to let these DOLTs and TWITs irritate me so much? I have a little story to tell.
One day I was a driving home and was stopped at a cross-roads controlled by traffic lights. There was a line of cars waiting to cross towards me and I was in the head of the line waiting to pass in the opposite direction. The lights changed to green. An older woman (yes even older than me) was the lead car in the oncoming lane. She and I each looked both ways before starting off. This was fortunate as someone didn’t see the light had changed to red. This car went through the red light and turned left. I started to get very irritated – “the fool! we could have ben killed! What were they thinking?”. The older lady in the oncoming car caught my eye. She gave a little smile and shrugged her shoulders. She didn’t show any signs of anger – she realized the other person had just made a mistake. I had to smile. I waved to her and we drove off in opposite directions. I drove home in very good humour. Now, whenever I get irritated at other drivers I can’t help but see that little smile and shrug of the shoulders and start to feel much calmer. But, there is nothing like a good rant once safely out from behind the wheel.
And to end on a happy note – here are two bus tickets from PV displayed on our new hand-woven runner that we brought back and which reminds us of the sunshine and warm people of Mexico.
PS When I first went to Mexico I got a shock at the prices $25 for a bottle of water in the hotel, until I realized the $ doesn’t mean dollar in Mexico it means peso (about a 13th of a dollar in value) 🙂 Gullible Travels.