Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Drivers Ed, (F)reddy Style

When I was a wee lad we had this class available to us in school. It was, of course, an elective class, not a requirement. But most of us took it as a way to kill our summer months between the 9th and 10th grades. It was called “Driver’s Ed”, “Ed” being short for EDUCATION for those of you who haven’t had your afternoon Starbuck’s yet.

In this class we learned an amazing skill. It was called DRIVING. And we didn’t have to do it driving around the cars with the pizza deliveryesque billboards on the top of them announcing to everyone (as if nobody could tell) “WARNING: DRIVING STUDENTS ON BOARD!!!” No shit. That person going 15 in a 65 is a DRIVING STUDENT? I just though he was EIGHTY. Not that I’m saying all older drivers are shitty drivers…no, that must JUST be my dad.

Even if people ARE, in fact, still taking driving classes some 20+ years after I did, it appears that today’s instructors are leaving out some of the basics. Mainly, traffic courtesy and RIGHT OF WAY. It was always my understanding that yielding the right-of-way was not only, let’s say THE LAW, but it was also a common driver courtesy that you would extend to your fellow drivers. Let’s say you’re both on your Sunday afternoon drive to your house of worship with your 2.4 children in the back seat and you approach an intersection at the same time someone on your right approaches. What should you do? Well back in the day you would have wave your WHOLE hand at the person next to you, NOT just a single digit, and you would play, “you go ahead…no, you go ahead…” for about 3 minutes. Not anymore. Apparently there’s a sense of entitlement that every driver shares that is, “It’s my RIGHT, it’s my WAY.” Oh, and here’s your single digit wave.

I hate you all.

As I was riding in the passenger seat on the way home from Sonic the other night with my grandmother driving (a/k/a Jed), he approached a four-way stop sign at the same time another driver approached his left. The older gentleman to our left started playing the old familiar game I mentioned above, you know, the “you go ahead…no you go ahead…” with Granny Jed. Jed, of course (since he digs older dudes) plays back. I finally said, “FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST MARMIE! WOULD YOU FUCKING GO ALREADY.” Then I turned around and explained to the boys that these were a “daddy word” before resuming my “conversation” with Jed. He said that he was just being polite, and I told him that he was just being annoying. That it was, in fact, HIS TURN to go through the intersection because he had been on his future tricks RIGHT HAND SIDE. I said, “WHY DO YOU THINK THEY CALL IT ‘RIGHT-OF-WAY’?” And he said, as he always does when he hates that I’m right, “Oh!” Apparently this WASN’T something they taught in driver’s ed in Texas. And before all you asshats start leaving kudos and words of encouragement for Jed being all “saintly” and all for putting up with my shit, we both already know how lucky I am that he sticks with me, so just stick to the point.

So for those of you who don’t understand the simple principles of driving, I give you…driving lessons.

First, the basics:

  • When you hear the sirens of an emergency vehicle, you pull over to the side of the fucking road. You don’t keep going, and you certainly don’t immediately switch lanes because the other lane miraculously cleared out for you. And you also are not an extension of that emergency vehicle. Therefore when it passes you, you don’t TAILGATE it trying to bypass all the lights yourself. If you do, you deserve to be INSIDE the ambulance, not behind it.
  • When somebody does you a solid, ACKNOWLEDGE IT. Even the slightest of movements from your wrist to your fingertips (ALL OF YOUR FINGER TIPS) will be appreciated by there person who let you in to that last second spot so you could make your immediate turn.
  • Rain DOES NOT equal ICE! If it starts sprinkling, it’s no cause for alarm, and no need to drop your speed to 20 miles below the speed limit, especially if the speed limit is only 30 to begin with.
  • Stop signs and stop lights apply to you too.
  • There is a huge difference between a Stop Sign and a Yield Sign. Not only do they LOOK different, they also mean different things. “Yield”, for example, means YIELD THE RIGHT-OF-WAY.
  • SIGNAL YOUR INTENTIONS. If you want in my lane, please let me know by using that stick on your steering wheel that magically makes one of your taillights flash. Likewise, if you’re going to make a turn (suddenly or planned) use the same blinking mechanism.
  • If turns make you nervous, take the fucking bus.
  • If you see a hot shirtless man on the side of the road changing a tire, ALWAYS stop to offer assistance. Even if he’s not “that hot”, you should maybe stop anyway…he may be on his way to extend his gym membership.

Now please forgive my rudimentary diagrams. I’m not as proficient with “Paint” as I am with “Explorer”:


Now in Figure A we have 2 cars traveling towards each other and approaching a four-way stop. If both cars were going to continue in their same direction of travel (IE: Continue going gaily forward), they would both come to a complete stop, and then continue through the intersection. IF, however, car B was going to SIGNAL his intention of turning right; after coming to a complete stop, car B would wait until car A cleared his way through the intersection before proceeding with his turn. I know folks. It’s confusing. But you can do it, I PROMISE.


In figure B I’ve pictured a scenario that I mentioned above…flashback to Jed driving? Okay. Cars A & B approach the same four-way stop intersection at the same time. Car A is continuing forward, as is Car B. However, since Car B is on Car A’s immediate right, Car B gets to get about his day first. Then Car A can rush to happy hour. Doesn’t matter if Car A is trying to turn into Car B’s line of traffic or not, Car B STILL gets to go first. Don’t forget that friendly 5 fingered wave.

Figure C got eaten by my dog. Curses dog.


Figure D introduces the Yield Sign. Isn’t it pretty? It sort of reminds me of the pink triangle. This is what I see every day that I leave my house. On the end of my street there is a Yield Sign. The cross traffic does not stop. It doesn’t have to. It doesn’t have a stop sign. Nor does it have a stop light. People seem to have the mistaken impression that Yield means you don’t have to stop at all. It’s like a “free pass”. They approach the sign and the turn at 30 mph with no regard or care to the people in the cross traffic. Let me tell you. It’s a fun little intersection. A Yield Sign, if you must know, means slow down and proceed when the traffic is clear. It doesn’t mean barrel out in front of a car that is going 35 right towards your door. It also doesn’t mean you HAVE to come to a complete stop, but it’s okay if you do.


Figure E was hard for me to do. I intended the squiggly line to go back and forth several times, however I had no such luck. Not all areas of the country have this anyway. For those that do, know that it’s not a sobriety checkpoint. No. It’s a signal that you’re entering a School Zone. If you’re going 40, kindly drop your speed down to 20 and proceed with caution. Especially if you’re in MY neighborhood, because in a few years it’ll be my bratty children walking to school while Adrian is screaming at Nathan, “Would you cross the fucking street already?”

If you don’t drive, thank you. If you do drive, practice the rules. If you live by the rules, you rock harder than Amadeus.


Southern Boy said...

uh oh. ONe driver too many finally drove you nerts, eh?