Tonight’s blog is written tired (and maybe just a little cranky) from having driven home just now straight from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Almost nine hours to go some 575 miles.
When I lived in Wyoming we used to refer to “windshield time,” as the mental space entered while driving long distances, especially alone — as I was today. Windshield time is a fine place. Good music from Pandora, excellent coffee and snacks, including a stellar tangerine that might have been the model for all perfection in citrus, made for a fine ride.
Much thinking occurred on the road today, I assure you. And it may be that some of what crossed my mind will eventually find its way to this space. I’ll be sure to let you know. But what is on my mind now are basic driving skills, as in the lack thereof.
I enjoy driving and pride myself on a certain level of skill because my father, then a traveling salesman who spent miles on the road, took a lot of time teaching me. What Dad didn’t know was implanted in me by the hard work of expert instructors at the law enforcement academy where I endured basic training and on the skid pad there in a course called “emergency vehicle operations” when I became a police officer.
On the ride home today I witnessed — and several times needed to evade (as in take evasive action), folks on the road who seem to have forgotten even the most basic things they had to demonstrate in order to get their licenses.
—The Turn Signal, also knows as the Blinkers. A phenomenon now only rarely witnessed, which may actually be nearing extinction. Once used to let fellow drivers know that you were about to change lanes, or turn. Not an incessant blinking light at the rear-end of your vehicle for mile after mile because you forget to turn it off.
— Yield, or Yielding. A fiction in which the right-of-way (a legally defined concept clear to every teenager) is granted to another driver. In most areas except in the most respectful regions of the deep South, however, a glare and raised finger have replaced both the legal and polite manifestations of this concept.
— Passing, as in Letting Someone. On a multi-lane highway, the left-most lane is not for dawdling along while talking to your girlfriend on the cell phone, or channeling Elvis while eating a candy bar and a cheeseburger at the same time as you are shaving or putting on makeup. This distaff lane is so you can pass slower traffic, after which you are required go back over to the right to let faster traffic behind you pass you by. You may ascertain that the vehicle behind you wants to pass because you might notice it momentarily flashing its head lamps at you in your rear-view mirror if you stopped texting or macking on whoever that was sitting next to you long enough to think about it.
— Volume Control. Technically, this is not a driving skill, but is included here under the heading of: The Lowest Depths of Hell Are Reserved For You If You Don’t Figure This Out. I grant that you have a stereo with huge bass capability. So much so that if you were afloat, even with the windows of your car rolled up, you could make the U.S.S. Enterprise (the aircraft carrier, not the Starship) batten down all of its hatches to keep from capsizing due to the tsunami created by that loud, stupid noise you are subjecting everyone within five city blocks to … including people who have been deaf for 35 years. Turn It Down.
— Parking. You only get one space. Really. Think about it.
Copyright 2011, David Hipschman
I know exactly what you mean, and when you throw snow and ice into the mix, it gets even crazier. (Nice use of “macking,” by the way!)