Roads: They’re All the Rage

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Let the games begin!

Let the games begin!

I hate driving. I didn’t always, but now that I’m older and driving is simply the process that must be endured in order to transfer your body to a new destination, I view climbing behind the wheel as a task akin to a booster shot: let’s just get it over with. So while my trip with Mom to Asheville was fun because of the location, navigating from point A to point B was another matter entirely.

First of all, there are the roads surrounding that delightful town. Three different interstates converge to form the perfect storm with corkscrew on-ramps that spit you out into the flow of traffic doing 35 miles an hour. The first thing you notice once you’ve straightened the steering wheel is the succession of three semi’s bearing down on you doing 70, and suddenly you understand all the fuss about high performance cars capable of going 0-60 in three seconds.

Once you’ve cheated death and exited the freeway, your next test of womanhood is to steer with one hand, follow that blue dot on your navigation system with the other, and keep a calm demeanor so your passenger doesn’t realize you’re about one car length away from a stomach ulcer. I was doing a decent job of this until Mr. I’m Local and You Tourists Really Get on my Nerves got behind me on the four lane.

My first crime against humanity was to drive the speed limit. This really torquedΒ the fellow following so closely that one glance in the rear view mirror told me that he had broccoli for lunch. He decided to extend his fury through his horn just as I was trying the decipher the road name on a tiny green sign the size of a lasagna noodle (uncooked). Then, as if I hadn’t already qualified for a capital punishment sentence, I looked over my shoulder, turned on my blinker, and then moved into the right lane since there wasn’t another car coming for eight miles. This aggressive act of vehicular maneuvering incited another series of rash horn trumpetings.

At this point, I started an internal tirade: Hey, buddy! What’s your deal? Are you illiterate or just choosing to ignore my Florida license plate? Is it just possible that the plate gives you a clue that I may not be familiar with the area? That I may be chauffeuring my mom around to another cleverly hidden antique store? That your bullying horn antics make me want to say something unladylike because you’re jumping on my last nerve?! HUH?!!

Mom threw a glance over her shoulder. “Boy, he sure has his Fruit of the Loom’s in a twist about something. I’m glad you’re so calm when you drive. I’d be a nervous wreck. Oh, look!” She swiveled her head and tapped the window with her pointer finger. “Village Antiques!”

Β© 2014 – Traci Carver

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37 responses »

  1. My dad lives about an hour from Asheville. Since I visited there from Florida (I was a longtime Miami resident prior to the move to Colombia), I was let in on the secret name that the NC locals-in-the-mountains have for drivers from Florida: Flor-Idiots. I think the appellation is totally unfair since it is impossible to drive both safely and fast on the incredibly curvy two-lanes near where my dad lives without knowing those curves like the back of your hand. In any case, there is definitely a bit of bias up there against Florida license plates. πŸ™‚ Also, I am with you re: the crazy interstates around Asheville. My husband and I have gotten lost up there more times than we care to admit!

    • So that’s what that guy was saying! Hopefully someone will remind him that the Flor-idiots boost the local ecomony πŸ™‚ And how in the world is any out-of-town driver supposed to know the pattern of one way streets and spontaneous turn lanes that suddenly appear? Thanks for sticking up for the Sunshine State residents on vacation, Courtenay!

  2. That sounds just like my morning commute to the school…Kudos on not only cheating death, but on not swearing like a sailor. Be warned though – too many city drives and you just might! 😦

  3. I’m afraid a few choice swear words would probably have escaped my lips if I’d been driving. If it’s any consolation it’s much the same here in the UK and our roads are be ry busy because there’s rather a lot of us on this small island.

      • It is slightly less manic. It I wouldn’t call it sedate. The New Forest has suicidal ponies, cows and deer so you have to always be on guard

      • Oh yes, and I hate the roundabouts too. The trick is to remember to give way to the right, at least in the UK, everywhere else it’s give way to the left!

      • When I lived in Malaysia I almost met my Maker at one, so I’ve been skittish ever since. That part of the world also drives on the left, but my problem was a huge truck that nearly wore my motorcycle like a bumper sticker. If I do visit the UK, I’ll rent a sturdy vehicle before tackling them πŸ™‚

  4. You sure did keep your cool. My husband practically has my tirades down pat. That driver you saw close to your bumper? That drives me crazy. If I had to stop suddenly – and there have been those that have done so to freak out the driver behind them – would be in my glove compartment. Very dangerous.

    I just have to chuckle when they speed by me and then they wind up being just in front of me at the next light. Internal dialogue or to hubby: “Wow! That really got you far. Didn’t it?” πŸ˜‰

    • I giggle quite a bit too when drivers get so bent out of shape with me for doing the speed limit. You can practically see their blood pressure rising in the rear view mirror! πŸ™‚

  5. I rarely hear a horn honking way out here in the PNW. Either we are kinder drivers or the rash of shootings related to road rage cut back on people expressing themselves through their horns.

  6. Find the right guy and voila! a chauffeur. You just assist and like magic the ulcers go away! Part fairy tale, part real. I hate even being the passenger when we drive these interstates. And figuring if we qualify for the HOV lane is added joy, not to mention construction and those sections where the GPS doesn’t know the latest road change. You sure nailed the experience.

    • Don’t even get me started on GPS taking you to some sketchy part of town and then proudly declaring, “Arrived!” If the voice on the little screen has no idea where she’s going, she should darn well say so! πŸ˜€

  7. Each Christmas the first thing on my wish list is a “driver.” Or a gift certificate for one, I’m not picky, Never have gotten it. But still trying.

    I do have a GPS that talks to me, rather annoyingly, so I don’t have to look at the street names on that small screen that needs a magnifying glass.

    Keep on trucking down writer’s lane, love your BLOGS.

    • I never even thought to put chauffeur on my Christmas list! But given your lack of success in making that petition, I’ll contain the jumps for joy until I see results πŸ™‚ I hope you’re having a restful summer, Carolyn!

  8. I’m with you on the driving bit. Your photo reminds me of the ribbons of 6-7 lanes of traffic greeting me when I get on the short span of I-95 usually traveling to RIverside and Cozy Tea. (Can you picture it?) I was born without a “merge” gene, I guess, and when I cross lanes, I pray, gun it and hope for the best. I agree, we really do deserve chauffeurs, but only cute ones like Judilyn says.

    I assume you got your zany sense of humor from your mother judging from her remark at the end. That cracked me up!

    (Sometime I might write about driving a van and 24-foot travel trailer down a steep incline. Yes, fish-tailing was involved.) And yes, I hate, hate, hate driving too.

    • I knew we were kindred spirits on more than one level! After several years of driving motorcycles and small vans with no power steering, I just got fed up with the whole process. And I’d never be able to conquer big city traffic. For a person whose motto is, “No, please. You go ahead,” I get nowhere fast.

      I’d love to read that trailer story. It sounds like a horror post in the making! πŸ™‚

  9. You know my affinity (or fame) for driving. Crazy people come in all shapes, sizes, and cities, unfortunately. :-/ Welcome to the capital of snow birds. πŸ˜‰

    • I will never forget that 80 year old lady that nearly sent us and several other innocent motorists home to glory. Yikes. But at least you were driving and were quick to react!

  10. Once long ago I enjoyed driving and then made the mistake of trying to drive from California to Washington state in one day–ruined me forever. It’s a family joke that if I have to be in the car for over three hours I go a bit bonkers. I cope by listening to audio tapes if I’m driving or sleeping if a passenger. I will be more courteous to out-of-state drivers after reading your post. It’s tourist season here and it gets silly sometimes navigating around town trying to navigating around the tourists.

    • It’s true that some tourists have no consideration for the locals. But sometimes, even when you know you need to turn left at the next light, only a local knows you have to get in the turn lane half a mile before you get there. So please do have pity on the nitwits like myself πŸ™‚
      And I hear you about long trips! Our trip to Asheville could have easily been driven in one day, but my mom and I both vetoed that notion and took our time getting there and back.

  11. I love driving. I know it’s clichΓ©, but there really is a telepathic connection between man and machine when you have a car eager to please and driver that knows how to ask the right questions of the car at the right time. It’s a beautiful ballet watching great drivers do great things (Watch some of the high-speed laps around the Nurburgring Nordschleife).

    But here in Denver, the drivers taking up space on the roads are horrible. They are lethargic about accelerating, they’re afraid of directional changes requiring them to come to nearly complete stops to make right turns, they’re entirely without the ability to merge, four-way stops are completely beyond their ken.

    The utter selfishness and disregard for others that make up the attitude of Americans is no better displayed than on the roads. It’s not the fault of driving; it’s the people — the acknowledgement and recognition that everyone’s only interested in himself. It’s sad… but on the other hand, you made it! πŸ™‚

    • You’re right; it really is about attitude, Matt. I freely admit to being an average driver: I’m cautious and try to be considerate, but don’t ask me to pull a maneuver requiring real skill. I obey the laws, and I try not to get on others’ nerves. But when I do, it’s often because the other driver has a hair trigger to start with.

  12. Part of why I am a recluse is that I HATE driving in Orlando. I loved it on the country roads back home, but city driving, and yes I will say it, in a town filled with tourists and old people, is awful. Glad you made it safely to your destination with Mom.

    • You are absolutely right about country roads making a difference. The most stress there involves getting stuck behind a tractor surrounded by double yellow lines for the next five miles; otherwise, you can actually sing while driving!

  13. I’m with you on the appeal (or more appropriately, the lack thereof) of driving a vehicle. In my next life, I am going to be born with a chauffeur at my beck and call at all times. Hey – The ladies of Downton Abbey had Tom, after all. Well, one of them had more access than the others, it seems. ;->

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

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