Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Rules (Of The Road)

 A very funny thing happened a few weeks back. I was navigating my typical morning work route - a route I've traveled over 4 years now - and was the first vehicle in the left lane of a double-lane right merge intersection (y'all know the one: Rice Mine Road Extension turning right onto Highway 82, it's in front of Buddy's). Both lanes are directed by a green arrow. The lane on the right has a yield sign. The lane on the left is turn-on-arrow only. I know this because there's a sign at least 4 feet high and 4 feet wide that says "Right On Arrow Only."

Because I drive a go-cart, I am quite keen on defensive driving: one miscalculated error and suddenly I'm the albacore in the can. So on this morning, I was sitting there waiting for the light to turn green, thinking the things I normally think ("I wonder how pole dancing would work for the next benefit I organize?" "Who do I have to sleep with to get a little liposuction?" "Did I put on deodorant today?") when suddenly I was jarred to reality by a blaring horn. Initially I thought the light had changed and I was late in my reaction but something told me that wasn't possible, since I'd actually just arrived at the signal (hence my first position in line).

So I looked in my rear view mirror to see a small, white-haired woman in a mid-size sedan. She was flailing her arms at me and mouthing the word "Go!" and then pushing the back of her hand toward the right, as if I were swine and she was sending me to the chute. I was flummoxed. I looked to the left, and certainly the oncoming traffic was not as heavy as it had been, but I am a rule follower, and I was in a very clearly marked lane. I am not a.) risking my life b.) risking someone else's life or c.) getting a ticket because Louise is late for bridge. And because I'm a gentleman who has a high degree of respect for matronly women, I politely pointed to the sign and shook my head no.

Well honey, let me just tell you, apparently that was the invitation she needed to tap into her rage. Never have I seen a Q-Tip so animated, so opinionated, so "There's NO ONE COMING!" Goodbye Louise the bridge player, hello Ellen Burstyn diet-pill addict in "Requiem For A Dream." I wasn't looking to go head-up with anyone that morning, so resisted the urge to get out of my car, walk back to her, thump her upside her roller set and say, "Yo, chill out Louise!" Instead, I obeyed the traffic signal, got onto the highway, merged into the right lane, waited for her head-shakin' distraught self to come up beside me and, because I'm nearly 40, gave her the finger with a clearly mouthed "Fuck You" for effect. Mature? No. Impactive? Yes. Suddenly she got all Miss Tuscaloosa "Well I never ..." as she drove along.

I immediately thought of following her to her destination, calmly inquiring as to her urgent need to progress through traffic, and caution her on aggressive antics since technically she could get a shiv for that, but decided to leave it alone. There is a moral to this story, however. A thorough understanding and review of the rules of the road is probably always important. I do believe re-testing for driver licenses is a good thing, because we only retain so much information and knowledge. I grew up with skilled drivers for parents, who placed emphasis on knowing the rules of the road, and also took driver's education in high school so, for a long time, I was very capable of reciting rules and how they applied to certain scenarios, and how I practiced them as a driver. Lately, however, I've been a bit foggy on a few - probably the result of the sorostitutes I endure daily because in their universe, driving is more freestyle - so I've dug around and unearthed the official Alabama Driver License Manual and am giving it a thorough review.

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