Rants from the Crib

An Ob/Gyn gone mad

Archive for the tag “driving”

Like A Bat Out Of Hell

I guess my husband isn’t the worst driver in the world. I mean, he doesn’t have accidents (except for the one where he backed into a pole in a dark grocery store parking lot). He just has a certain personality type, type A with a dollop of OCD, and it all comes to the forefront when he drives.

He is IMPATIENT. If he gets behind someone who is going just a mile or two under the speed limit, or even a mile or two over, he will swoop around them, radiating impatience. He isn’t too cautious about which way those little dotted lines are going on the road either. If the person is going MORE than a few miles under the speed limit, he swoops around them with a derogatory blare of the horn. The horn going off never fails to startle me, and it irritates me to death. Hasn’t he ever heard of people getting shot because of road rage?

When my family comes to visit, he drives us all in the van. I wind up sitting in the very back, because my dad has to sit all the way up front because my husband’s swoopy driving makes him nauseated. It makes him so nauseated that he has to take Benadryl or Antivert to keep from getting sick. If he finds out we’re going out somewhere, my dad will medicate himself about thirty minutes before we leave. Sitting in the back is an experience, because when the husband takes sharp turns up front, you get cracked like a whip in back. I get pretty dizzy back there.

I gave up driving with him in the car a long time ago. He barks orders from the passenger seat, “No, turn there! TURN THERE! Turn there NOW!” or tells me how to navigate traffic, whom to pass, and yes, he reaches over and helps himself to the horn, so I look like I’M the one with road rage. Great. He’ll probably get me shot.

He is so anal retentive, he won’t wait through a red light. When he wants to go straight and is approaching a light that is red, he actually gets in the right turn lane, turns right on red, makes a left into some parking lot, and right back out onto the road he was on. It doesn’t even matter that the light has probably changed in the meantime. He just refuses to stop moving. He doesn’t undestand why I refuse to do this when I am driving. Which is why I let him drive. I just don’t want to hear it.

On long trips, he is always exceeding the speed limit. He complains bitterly about speed traps but blazes right through them. He’s gotten several speeding tickets since we’ve been married, and is always so irked when he gets caught. He actually drove forty-five minutes to court with photographs to try to protest one of the tickets. They didn’t buy it. He got traffic school instead. He has gotten tickets with our daughter in the car with him, and she always gleefully reports the details, what the cop said, what Daddy said, etc.

I have begged and begged him about the horn honking thing, partly because it sets my teeth on edge and partly because now that we have a daughter, I am more worried than ever about road rage and somebody pulling us over and trying to hurt us. He has improved a little bit, but I have to remind him every time he passes, “No horn. No horn.” And woe betide the unfortunate soul who takes a little long getting out of the gate when the light changes. He fumes, blares the horn, and zooms around them if he can.

And his treatment of vehicles is abysmal. It’s not that he doesn’t do oil changes and maintenance stuff, because he does. But he treats any car he is in like a rolling dumpster. Any drink or food wrapper that he is finished with gets tossed right over the back seat. When you open the door of his Explorer, cans come clanking and rolling onto the ground. It is mortifying. And he NEVER washes anything. His white vehicle is dark gray. Back in the days before we had our daughter, I had a Porsche, if he ever drove it (which he hated, because the hard “feel” of the road made his hemorrhoids hurt), he would unhesitatingly hurl coke cans into the back of my Carrera. I wanted to hurt him. Badly. I kept that car IMMACULATE.

His impatience when approaching restaurants is legendary. He doesn’t even want to wait to see if he has to wait. As we approach the front of the restaurant, he slows down just enough for me to leap out and go find out how long the wait is. I have to text him what the wait is and he’ll decide whether to come in or not. I am always hurled out of the car so fast I forget and leave my glasses on, or forget my purse in the car. And Heaven help me if I should try to walk around the FRONT of the car to get into the restaurant. He’ll just about run me over in his impatience to get out and find a parking spot.

I don’t know what else I can do. I just avoid riding with him whenever possible, and try not to think about it the rest of the time. I realize the crazy driving is just an extension of the competitive, controlling, type A personality. But I just worry that one of these days it’ll get us killed.

Vail Pass

My twenties and thirties were marked by nothing so much as extreme foolhardiness.  There was nothing I wouldn’t try; I wouldn’t let anyone know I was afraid of anything.  Hell, I wouldn’t be afraid of anything.  I would try anything anyone dared me to do, and I would do anything I dared myself to do.

I went on a ski trip to Vail around 2001 with my then boyfriend, an attorney from Atlanta.  He flew in on a different flight and was meeting me later on in the evening.  I was waiting to go skiing until he got there, so I was trying to figure out an afternoon activity.  I was an avid jewelry maker at the time (still am) and when I found a bead store on the other side of Vail pass, I decided to spend a pleasant afternoon over there browsing and buying beads.  There was snow predicted for that afternoon, a good bit of it, so that would be great for skiing.  I had a rental car from the airport, which notably had no snow chains.

I am from Alabama, and as such, have not spent an awful lot of time driving on ice and snow.  I had a former boyfriend who had showed me the basics during a winter trip to Montreal; he made me do donuts and skids in an empty parking lot until I could control the car on ice.  This was mainly because he wanted me to drive for most of the trip.  After all, it was my car.  So I felt ridiculously confident that I could drive my car in the snow through Vail Pass just because I wanted to go buy some beads.

I hopped in the car and took off.  Those were the days without GPS, so I was armed with a map and verbal instructions from the store owner.  The shop was right on the main road once I got through Vail Pass to the other side, so I felt pretty confident.  The snow started on my way over there, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.  I got to the shop and spent a pleasant few hours browsing, shopping and buying.  As usual, I dropped quite a bit of money on jewelry supplies.  After all, I was a doctor, I was single, and had nothing but an apartment payment to make.  My car was paid for. 

Time came to leave and go back and meet the boyfriend.  There was quite a lot of snow in the parking lot and on the car.  I hopped in, turned on the heat, and drove brashly off.  I began to notice, on my way up into the Pass, that my car was doing a bit of slipping and sliding.  I had been taught how to handle a skid, so I kept correcting the car, steering the car into the skid as I had been taught.  The radio I was listening to had a break-in announcement – shortly they would be closing the Pass to all but those with snow chains, and a bit afterward, they would be closing the pass entirely.  This got my attention, because if I got trapped on the wrong side of the Pass, I wouldn’t be going skiing or meeting my boyfriend at all. 

I got through the pass just as they were closing to all without snow chains.  Now I just had to get down the other side without landing in a ditch.  I skewed and slid my way down the road, becoming a bit more nervous and a bit less brash than previously as I contemplated the steep road and the guard rails, with mountains dropping off to the side.  Unbelievably, I made it back to the lodge through piles of snow, parked in front of our lodge and met the boyfriend just in time.  I’d like to say I learned my lesson that day and didn’t do any other stupid things, but I had many, many more foolhardy actions to go before I finally grew up.  My age and mortality finally caught up with me.  I am now just nervous when I have to put my minivan in reverse.  I would no more traverse Vail Pass in a snowstorm than fly.  The interesting thing is, I may be taking a temporary job in North Dakota this winter, and I am feeling absolutely terrified of driving into town from the airport.  Go figure.  Lo, how the mighty have fallen.  Or maybe the mighty have risen, because I finally feel like I might have a lick of sense.  Having a husband and a daughter to look out for makes all the difference in the world.

GPS

Some people have a love/hate relationship with their GPS.  I have a hate/hate relationship with mine.  I have a sense of direction so underdeveloped that it defies any and all attempts on the part of the GPS to help me out.  And that would be assuming that the damn thing is trying.  I currently have a GPS system built into my Honda Odyssey (screaming:  MOM VAN!)  which gets me lost via the longest route possible all the time.  I know this because I turn it on even when I know where I am going, and it tries to send me around the moon just to get to the Sonic.  It claims as an excuse that I am entering unverified areas – as if the largest intersection in downtown were unverified.  You can choose a male or a female voice and I hate them both.  I have the female voice and she just sounds, well, so patient and reasonable.  She has a long suffering tone; she always sounds as if she is just at her wit’s end with me.  As I am with her.  She always tells me the wrong time to turn – she’s always one street behind, as if that were MY fault.  Then with her patient voice, and with a near audible sigh, she says “Make a U-turn… if POSSible.”  To which I always expect to hear her add:  “You dumb ASS.”  Unfortunately my daughter has figured out how to correlate the map with the voice and she mechanically chants right along:  “Make a U-turn… if POSSible.”  (You dumb ASS).  Then she says, “Mom, why is the lady telling you to make all those U-turns?”, to which I respond, “Honey, hush.  Mommy is DRIVING.”  Then my daughter wants to know, “Why didn’t you turn right like she said?” to which I respond, “Honey, hush.  Mommy is DRIVING.” 

Programming the thing is near impossible.  If you try to do it while driving, you will run right off the road.  I know, I know, don’t do it while driving.  And I don’t.  Because I can barely program the thing sitting still.  First it demands:  “What CITY?”  Why it can’t just use the previous one as a default, I don’t know.  Because that would make waaaaay too much sense.  Then it asks, “What STREET?” and then doesn’t allow numbers to be put in.  So what if I want Highway 72?  Nope, no numbers.  I have to enter HIGHWAY as the name of the street, then scroll through a list of every highway within a twenty mile radius of the metro area.  Not in any particular order.  Not alphabetically.  And not by distance.  Nope.  Waaaaay too much sense.  If I had a sense of direction, I’d set the thing on fire. 

I actually had a GPS chat with my folks this weekend.  They’ve just bought a new GPS and it turns out, they can’t stand theirs either.  Especially my dad.  Apparently the first GPS voice they had was named Annette.  “Turn Annette off,” my dad said sharply.  “She’s too bossy.”  So Mom had to hunt around for a new voice.  They found a man voice but that infuriated Daddy even more.  Finally they found a more acceptable female voice – I guess she sounded timid and acquiescent.  Then Mom got started on it.  “It tries to put me on the interstate everywhere I go,” she said.  “Your father and I were trying to take a back way we know into Montgomery.”  “Mom,” I said.  “Why were you using the GPS if you already knew where you were going?”  “Well, I wanted to see if SHE knew where we were going,” she replied.  Apparently New Voice is fond of undigitized areas also.  To be honest, I’m surprised my folks try to use such technology at all.  “I like a good old fashioned map,” said Mom.  Old fashioned maps never did me any good either.  I can read a map but that doesn’t mean I can figure out where I am on it.  That’s where the no sense of direction thing comes in.  My folks are from the midwest, and like most midwesterners, they always know which direction they are going.  Something about the roads being laid out sensibly, in grids.  In the south, roads frequently follow old carriage paths, even in old Atlanta, and they are laid out not sensibly at all.  So if I am representative, Southern folks have little to no sense of which direction they are headed.  At least, I like to blame the carriage paths.  Probably everybody else knows exactly where they are going.  I am the only one lost.  So I am left in my Mom van with sarcastic old what’s-her-name who is rolling her electronic eyes at me every time I make a turn and chirping, “Make a U-turn… if POSSible.”  (You dumb ASS.)

Driving Dullsville

Ah, and now for one of my favorite rants.  Driving in this little town we live in.  I think one of the nurses I work with put it best:  “All these new cars in town and not a one of them has a working turn signal.”  Don’t get me started on the turn signals.  Not only do people make left hand turns with no turn signal, they make them out of the FAR RIGHT LANE.  Everyone drives with their headlights on, which in a more forward thinking town might signal caution, but in this case, I think they all just left them on from the night before.  Then there is the GREEN LIGHT BRAKING.  These people ride their brakes through all intersections; I guess they are hoping that the light will turn yellow so they can SLAM on their brakes and have the person behind them run right through their butt.  Then there is the weird truck occurrence.  In ANY other town, you would avoid the lane with the truck in it and get in the other one?  Right?  Not here.  It is a guarantee that that truck driver will get cranked up before these reflexless bozos even notice that the light has changed.  Get behind the truck.  Also there is the Wal Mart phenomenon.  To pass the most smoothly through this part of town, you must get in whatever lane is farthest from Wal Mart, because it is guaranteed that any driver in a near lane will slam on their brakes and decide abruptly that they must stop by at Wal Mart.  MUST stop by Wal Mart.  And the wrecks.  Oh my gosh, this is the wreckin’est town I have ever seen.  Sad, but not a day goes by but that I have a patient whose friend or family member was just killed in a “tragic accident.”  Many of these tragic accidents are caused by alcohol and trucks, but quite a little number of them are caused by NOT LOOKING WHERE YOU ARE GOING and driving straight into someone else’s path.  The Life Flight people are making a good little living in this town.  Then there is the Big Town Fear situation.  Dullsville is actually a tiny little piddly town but many folk who come in to shop or eat out come from REALLY tiny little burgs and are TERRIFIED to drive in The Big City.  They have the white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel and a deer in the headlights look that is unmistakable.  I hear people complaining about how awful the traffic is here (remember, tiny town) and how far it is to drive all the way across town (read, 9 miles), and I remember my life in Atlanta and I snicker.  There are exactly 2 main streets in town.  They intersect each other.  You can reach anything from either one of them.  My hairdresser tried to draw me a MAP to her salon the first time I went there, but the directions were just a simple left turn off one of the main streets.  Why on EARTH would I need a map?  So today’s rant is brought to you by the letter L for Lousy Driving and the letter T for Tiny Town.  If you don’t have your turn signal on, then get out of my way!

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