Simply ordinary observations from an ordinary person - sometimes having to do with health care issues, sometimes not. Topics will change as my attention wanders. Yours probably will too....

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Driving Me Crazy

Like many people who live in CA, I spend a great deal of time in my car. (Sorry, I still can't refer to myself as a Californian even after living here 28 years. I am an Oregon girl living temporarily in the south. Just to clarify that....) Like I was saying, I drive 20 miles to my job each day which by Bay Area standards is a very short commute. 10 years ago the drive took about 22 minutes door to door. Now, because of increased population, more stoplights, general congestion, and irritated traffic gods it takes 35 to 40 minutes. On a really, really bad day when there's been a fatal accident or road closure, it can take well over 2 hours. So I have plenty of time to observe other drivers and develop defensive driving strategies. I'm pleased to present my summary here - however, I should warn readers: The following post will contain age, gender, and racial profiling. It's probably not politically correct, but it's definitely true!

Vehicle: Dodge Ram Diesel Pickup. Occupant: 40-50 year old male general contractor on his way to the latest mega-mansion project balanced on a hilltop. Driving strategy: Move to the right hand lane immediately and stay there until this rampaging bull of a vehicle has passed. The driver is quite probably late to a breakfast meeting with his bazillionaire client and is gearing up for a show down with the fancy pants architect who's coming up from San Franisco. Let 'im by.

Vehicle: 1990's American-Made Sedan, with a "Bush/Cheney" or "Support Our Troops" bumpersticker. Occupants: 80 year old couple from one of the gated retirement communities, driving to the bank or a doctor's appointment. Driving strategy: Move to the left hand lane ASAP, using your turn signal so as not to startle the driver. Make every attempt not to get stuck behind this car, because the occupants have all day to complete their errands and are in absolutely no hurry to get anywhere.

Vehicle: Newer Jetta, Matrix, Acura, Cabriolet or Similiar Sporty Model. Occupant: Young, adult white male - Millennial or Gen X'er. Driving strategy: Stay right where you are and do not adjust speed. Never try to change lanes because there won't be time. These drivers are multi-tasking: texting, e-mailing, blue-toothing, DVD watching and God knows what else. They are unrepentant lane changers who enjoy squeezing by other cars with only inches to spare. They earn some kind of game points for arriving at red lights 2-3 seconds before other drivers. They are sometimes, but not often enough, seen in conversations with CA Highway Patrol.

Vehicle: Previously-Owned 1980's Auto - often missing hubcabs, with under inflated tires, and broken brake light covers. Occupants: 4 -6 Hispanic Males of a various ages, often related to one another. Driving strategy: Approach with caution because the vehicles are often not well maintained and have frequent blow-outs or breakdowns. Move past the vehicle carefully. While these workers are to be commended for car-pooling, unlike their fellow CA drivers, there is no guarantee that they possess a valid drivers license, have car insurance, understand the rules of the road in the USA, or have ever had any formalized drivers training. In the event of an accident, all occupants will disappear across the fields and you'll be left with 2 damaged cars.

Vehicle: Chrysler Seibring, generally Convertible: Occupants: Heterosexual couple, possibly married but not necessarily to each other. Driving strategy: Use extreme caution. These are erratic, dangerous tourist drivers who have been seen backing up on a state highway, making U-turns across all lanes of traffic, driving southbound in a northbound lane, using a center turn lane as a private drive-thru, running red lights and stop signs, and engaging in unsafe sexual practices while operating a motor vehicle. They brake often for winery driveways and may have consumed a week's worth of alcohol by 3 p.m. Keep a safe distance and be prepared for the unexpected!

Vehicle: Toyota Prius or Honda Hybrid. Occupant: Baby Boomer of either gender, listening to NPR and sipping a soy milk latte while carefully nibbling a whole-grain, low fat muffin. Driving strategy: None really. The driver might be a bit spacey, but he/she will be driving the speed limit in order to conserve fuel and reduce carbon footprints and is unlikely to break any traffic laws. Generally safe, cordial and well mannered unless you go out of your way to antagonize him/her by flashing a "f**k Tibet" sign or something.

There are a few more: SUV Mom's (dangerous during school drop-offs/pick-ups), Low riding Ghetto Gangbangers (always dangerous but not usually out during daytime hours), Weekend Warriors with bike/kayak racks, etc. but this post is long enough already.

What's my ride? I'm not saying, but my strategies have kept it dent-free for 5 years.


Anonymous said...

That was funny. I think you're right on with the Chrysler Sebring - which is why I always found it hillarious that Michael Scott drives on in The Office.

Dreaming again said...

That was great!
Loved your opening remark ... I'm a Californian ... I've been living in Oklahoma since 1982 and still refer to myself as a Californian. Always will.

When someone calls me an Oklahoman or an Okie I am QUICK to tell them no, I am a Californian through and through.

I guess loyalty to the state you're born and bread to is pretty strong.