I recently spent a column's worth of space complaining about bad drivers that all the Internet ranters and stand-up comedians seem to miss. You know how everybody complains about old people and tailgaters while our national dialogue on driving behavior is noticeably lacking a discussion on people who are terrified of bicycles.
In between then and now, the holidays happened, so I've got plenty more for you.
These dumbasses are so committed to living in the moment that thinking a couple of seconds ahead to when their 80 mph speeding car is inevitably going to collide into the 50 mph semi ahead of them is against their principles.
For most of us, there is nothing complex about predicting that collision course, as the semi has probably been chugging along at 50 for the past three hours or so, and we have a sophisticated set of range-finding devices called eyes that can tell us that from a good quarter mile away.
If you were sitting with Mr. Live For The Now, however, and you told him that he was going to have to hit the brakes real hard in about 10 seconds, he would probably scoff at you and then, after the inevitable happened, fear you as a wizard.
It really sucks when you miss your exit (or turn). You have to take the next exit and find your way back, and you could end up going miles out of your way. But when most of us weigh a long annoying detour versus cutting across multiple lanes of traffic and/or a divider, we usually come up on the side of eating the mistake and dealing with the miles rather than, you know, possibly getting ourselves or someone else killed.
If you've already missed your exit, you don't have time to check your mirrors, let alone do the over-the-shoulder blind spot check, so you're basically just swerving through a couple of lanes with your eyes closed. The only time this is OK is if you are in an X-Wing and you are a Jedi.
The most annoying thing about this is the selfish attitude it betrays. The driver made a mistake (missed his exit). Who should have to pay for it? Him, by taking a long detour and having to loop back? Or everybody else, because he deserves to get to that exit on time? Not to mention the poor Department of Transportation landscaper that has to replace the turf his tires tear up. Hopefully he is a convict.
It might just be that some people are completely unfamiliar with the idea of turning a car around 180 degrees because this would also explain the people waiting unnecessarily at the gas station.
Every car has the gas cap on one particular side, so you usually have to pull up to the gas pump on a specific side. I'm sure we've all been to gas stations where all the pumps were full of on-the-left fuelers or something, but do you know what? If you turn your car around 180 degrees, all the wrong-side pumps suddenly become right-side pumps!
Apparently some people still don't know that and will sit there waiting patiently for a correct-sided pump to open up. I realize some big gas stations only allow you to go through one way, and some really small gas stations make it hard to turn around in the lot, but I've seen people in roomy, two-way gas stations just sit on their asses while I slowly drive past them, turn around and fuel up. They are still there when I leave, looking at me as if I performed a miracle.
Now when I make a right turn -- and this might be just a weird personal quirk of mine -- I like to see if there are any cars coming from the left. I know some people find it exciting and dangerous to just turn and let fate take them where it may, whether it be to the insurance claims office or a lifetime in a wheelchair, but I just have a personal preference towards looking first.
Sometimes there's crap in the way, like parked cars or trees, which are pretty easy to fix by setting them on fire. I would only do this if it's an intersection you drive through every day, of course. Waiting for a tree or car to burn to ashes takes a really long time if you are only making that turn once.
But sometimes, if the road has more than one lane, there is a car on your left, planning to go straight or turn left, and sometimes that asshole blocks your view of oncoming cars. But whatever, usually if you scoot forward a little more, you can see what you need to see.
Which is that you will not be able to turn for about two hours.
The real assholery comes when the guy follows this by scooting forward himself and completely obstructing your view again. Now I realize you both need to see oncoming cars, and you can block his view of cars coming from the right, but the cars coming from the right are in the far lane, and you don't need to be ahead of another car to see around it to the far lanes. You can even be slightly forward of him and he can see what he needs to see just fine.
On top of that, more often than not, the blocker ends up being an SUV or pickup, which means he can see over my little Civic however the hell we are positioned, while he is a wall to me. The only explanation for him scooting forward is because he has an inching habit (more on that later) or he has some retarded sense of competition, even stopped at an intersection.
Congratulations, buddy, you are the champion of 4th and Elm! What a winner!