Thursday, April 3, 2014
Here we go again. I’ve run short of topics, so you get to hear me bellyache about even more things that cheese me off. I’ll try to keep it short, but ranting is one of the things I do best. I make no promises.
Let’s kick off with one of my favorite peeves, other drivers. I drive a car. Other people drive trucks, vans, and SUVs. More often than not I find myself in a parking lot next to or between one or more of these monster vehicles. Everything’s hunky-dory until I go to leave. Here’s the problem: these things are bigger, higher and longer than my car. That seriously cuts down my field of vision when I go to back out of a space. I’m pretty much backing up blind.
Been in that situation? Expect other drivers to stop and wait while you back out of the parking space? Well, don’t, because they won’t. As recently as two days ago I was inching out of a spot when all of a sudden a car appeared in my rearview mirror and I had to slam on the brakes. The other car never slowed down. Maybe the driver saw me backing out. Maybe they didn’t. I don’t think it made that much of a difference.
Fellow drivers, let me spell it out for you. I’m parked next to an SUV. My visibility is nil. I CAN’T SEE YOU. I don’t know you’re there until my car’s ass end is right out in the street and your car’s front end is plowing into it. A warning toot of the horn would be appreciated. I don’t expect you to stop because apparently modern cars don’t come with working brakes. They don’t seem able to slow down, either. The only way a driver will stop for a car backing up is if they want your spot. In which case, fellah, give me some room. I can’t back out if you’re blocking me.
One little beep of the horn. That’s all you have to do. Alert me to your presence. I promise I’ll stop and patiently wait until you’ve sped past on your way to your dental appointment or job interview or whatever it is that’s so vitally important you can’t stop for three seconds or even slow down for somebody backing out of a parking space. Most of those silhouettes zipping by in my rear view belong to other cars. Their drivers must park in special lots that don’t take SUVs.
Whenever possible, I try to find a pullthrough. That way I’m facing the street when I go to leave and can see what’s coming at me. I’ve heard of blind spots, but through a front windshield? I didn’t know driving had been reclassified as a contact sport.
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Parking issues aside, I do enjoy driving. I like to amuse myself when I’m out on the road and can’t pull in a decent radio station. Here’s a little game I play on divided highways. I get into the slow lane, hold steady at the speed limit, and see who passes me. Usually it’s everybody. Then there’s the one guy going just below the speed limit that I have to go around. That’s when the guy going 80 shows up, just as I pull over to pass. I’ve been on a 65 MPH highway doing 70 or faster to pass somebody and still had some joker riding my bumper. Maybe it’s the same guy who just had to zip around me while I was trying to back up. I know his horn works, because he blasts me with it if I take too long passing the slow guy. Why couldn’t you use your horn while we were in the parking lot? Then I wouldn’t have backed into you.
I’m not sure why we even have speed limits. Do you actually drive 25 MPH when you’re in a 25 MPH zone? Do you know anybody who does? Of course not. Well, other than that little old dude in the Volvo, the one in the hat who’s always right in front of you when you’re late for work. He’s the same guy at the head of the line on those twisty country two-lanes, where it’s No Passing Zone for 30 miles and the speed limit’s 45 but he’s doing half that and there’s just no way to get around him. Here in Amish Country we get that with buggies, but we’re allowed to pass them if there’s no oncoming traffic. If you see a buggy backing up, better stop and wait for it. The horse never checks for other cars.
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Let’s get off the highway, shall we? This gripe involves pedestrians. A friend once referred to this phenomenon as “Nobody’s There Until You Are.” You’re walking somewhere and you stop for a split second and almost instantly get a quiet “Excuse me” because the one other person around absolutely has to occupy the very space you’re in at that precise same moment.
Example: years ago, when people needed TV Guide to see what was on every week, I stopped by a grocery store to get a copy. The store was practically empty. I couldn’t wait to see what was coming up on my favorite shows, so I ducked into an empty aisle and started flipping pages. Within minutes a shopper appeared. “Excuse me.” Yep. In an empty aisle in a nearly-deserted grocery store, I’d taken up position in front of the one item this woman had to have right then. Nobody’s there until you are.
And you people with the carts: you want to gab on your cell phones or chat with other shoppers, fine. Just move over to the side so we can get around you. Quit hogging the aisle. You’re not the only person in the store. Need proof? I’m going to zoom around you while you’re trying to back out of your parking space. Nothing like an expensive collision to remind you there are other people in the world, and they’re not paying any attention to you either.
That’s enough grousing. I’m going to sit home and write about fantasy worlds where they don’t have cars. Wonder if horse-drawn carriages used to back into each other? I’ll have to Google that.