I found myself driving along life’s highway (US 1) recently, and as it happens now and again, I found myself behind another driver. This driver seemed a bit hesitant and unsure of where she was going. I know this because she kept hitting the brakes and slowing down, disrupting my smooth and steady forward progress.
After nearly a dozen false stops (and my inability to get into the other lane), our hesitant driver did finally turn off the highway (not that I had any way of knowing what she was going to do). I started thinking—what if there were a way to somehow let other drivers know your intention to turn… a way to signal other drivers in your vicinity that you plan on leaving the lane you’re in… perhaps a device the driver could trigger, maybe a lever attached to the steering column that would activate flashing lights on the vehicle exterior so that other drivers could be aware of your impending action… we could call it a “turn signal” or a “directional” or even something as simple as a “blinker.” If someone would only invent such a device, then maybe drivers in the Keys WOULD ACTUALLY USE IT!
Yes, as regular readers of the column can discern, it’s time for my semi-annual rant against the incompetent drivers who fill the lanes of our highways and byways. The turn signal issue is what almost always gets me going, as I still can’t believe how many drivers out there are just too damn lazy to reach the vast distance from the steering wheel to the directional lever. Or maybe they are thinking that they’re still driving the boat. I realize that these are tight budgetary times, but I’d love to see the Highway Patrol or Sheriff’s Office implement special turn signal enforcement units. They might even turn out to be a source for additional much-needed revenue, especially from the habitual repeat offenders.
It’s not just operating a moving vehicle that gets my coolant system to the boiling point. The act of parking is another indicator of the relative intelligence of the vehicle operator. Case in point: I drive a large vehicle (a Ford van). Because of the size of my vehicle, I usually try to park where there’s plenty of room around my van so that I can get in and out, and get stuff in and out of my van without inconveniencing others. I most often will park at a distance from the front of the store so that there are plenty of empty surrounding spaces.
A couple of weeks ago, I had just done this exact thing—parked around the side lot of the auto parts store where no one else had parked. Before I could even get out of my van, in comes Junior Jackass with his Jumbo Dually Big Wheel Monster Truck taking the space adjacent to my driver’s side. He parked so close to my van that I couldn’t even open my door to get out. I uttered a string of expletives, put the van in reverse, and parked a couple of spaces away. As I get out, and I swear I’m not making this up, Junior sort of apologizes, saying, “Dude, I’m sorry—I didn’t know you were still in the van.”
I said nothing, shook my head, and walked away. Here’s what I should have said to inform and educate Junior, in my best Jack Nicholson voice: “Why would it have mattered if anyone was still in the freakin’ van? Because if no one was in the freakin’ van, and you parked the way you did, how could anyone get in the freakin’ van without putting a huge crease in the side of your big wheel dually?”
Let’s all commit to being better, more considerate drivers, especially in a small town with one road in and out. That road doesn’t belong to any single one of us; neither are we usually the only ones on that road. We must share the road with other drivers, most of whom are as intent on getting to their destination as you are. And remember: if you pull a stupid driver stunt on the highway, and you hear a string of epithets, you may be about to have a (hopefully not too) close encounter with a Ford van.