As much as I wish it were otherwise, I spend a good portion of each day driving. My older daughter to or from school. Running errands. Going to the post office, the library, the grocery store. What have you. And living in the middle of a big city, all this driving inevitably causes a whole lotta STRESS. Some nincompoop cuts me off without any semblance of turn signal. Another jackass sidesteps the WHOLE LANE OF TRAFFIC to speed past us in the BIKE LANE. Another guy just can’t wait for the light – or by the way, the elderly man CROSSING THE STREET. Frankly, some of these folks should not only have their licenses revoked, they should be pulled bodily from their cars and beaten senseless.
I curse frequently while driving. I hate doing this, since I pretty much always have one or more children in the car with me. We have actually had discussions about “mommy’s language” – how un-lady-like it is, and how it should not be repeated in public. I am glad my kids are bright, b/c other than peppering their day-to-day speech with an above average use of the word “Crap” they have heretofore suffered no other ill effects of my potty mouth.
I am a cautious driver. This stems from several things. 1) I value my children’s safety above all else and will not jeopardize it to get to [WHEREVER] ten minutes earlier. 2) I value YOUR CHILDREN’S SAFETY as much as I do my own. 3) I like people and do not want to hurt them.
B/c of this, I stop at stop signs. And when I say I stop, I mean I am probably the only damn driver in West Philly who comes to a physical halt-machen at the intersection. I stop. I look both ways. I make sure there are no bicyclists approaching. If there are, I wave them through. I do not give a shit if some psychopath behind me cannot wait 20 seconds for me to do this w/out their face turning purple. F*CK THEM. They will be the one going to jail for manslaughter, not me.
Driving here in Philly is bad b/c 1) there are inexplicable intersection nightmares, such as 30th & Market. WHERE ARE THE TRAFFIC ENGINEERS?? Green lights get traffic moving, especially onto the highway. MAKE THEM LONGER & MAKE THEM CONSISTENTLY GREEN ALL THE WAY ALONG. As it is now, the gridlock has traffic tangled in both directions from JFK all the way to the Walnut Street Bridge. If I had to deal w/ this every single rush hour I would GO INSANE.
2) Obeying the law is optional. And I am not exaggerating. The “roll-through” has been elevated to an art-form here in Philly. People speed. They swerve. They cut. They do not wait their turn. They do not like letting people in – unless you are attractive. And as everyone knows we’re all just a bunch of fat ugly slobs, you can imagine what this leads to. The cops do not enforce 99.9% of the traffic laws b/c they are too busy trying to keep us from killing each other.
3) Philadelphians are selfish like few others. Not all of us, mind you, but a whole whopping percentage of the population. Enough to make you think twice about trying to cross that street. When I was pregnant with my first child I used to walk home every day from work. 4 miles. from City Hall to West Philly. I was nearly hit more times than even I care to repeat. AND WHY? B/c most people suck. If they aren’t stopping for a full-term pregnant woman, you sure as hell know they AIN’T STOPPING FOR NO ONE.
4) Lastly, I would hazard a guess that upwards of 35% of Philadelphians drive illegally. And by this I mean w/out a license, registration, insurance – or all of the above. Sometimes in a stolen car. What do they care if they hit you or your car? It’s not their money. They are willing to take the chance b/c here in Philly at least, there’s no reason not to.
The way you drive speaks VOLUMES about you as a person. It accurately communicates your level of compassion and humanity better than almost anything. For instance, one of our neighbors is a very nice person, a deeply religious man, a hardworking husband and father, and yet, just last week, he nearly RAN MY HUSBAND OVER at the end of our block when John was riding his bike. WHY? B/c he didn’t recognize John and was interested in speeding up and cutting off that guy on a bike. People feel a sense of entitlement behind the wheel of their car which verges on sickness, and they behave in ways they’d NEVER otherwise would b/c of it. They feel protected in that cocoon. It’s like Jekyll & Hyde. For others, driving simply unleashes the INNER NATURE. Are you a control freak? Fast lane doing 55. Are you completely self-absorbed? Yakking into your cellphone, making a left turn from the right lane. The list goes on.
A car may be classy, but it’s only a car. The model you drive may communicate your taste or your circumstance, but it often has little to do w/ your true level of class. B/c THAT cannot be bought. Rich, poor, it all boils down to one thing. You can’t polish a piece of poop.
10 thoughts on “The way you drive speaks VOLUMES.”
I am from – and learned to drive in – Miami. So I learned aggressive driving tactics which you had to use or die. When I moved to Orlando, then North Carolina, I had to learn that cutting in front of someone was no longer driving du rigeur.
If I had tried driving the ‘normal’ way in MIA, someone might have followed me to slash my tires. No joke. The best way to drive there was to be inconspicuous.
And for the record, I would NEVER raise kids there.
oh, c’mon. driving anywhere pales in comparison to driving in jersey. here it’s a full-contact support with every person for him/herself.
i think the term road rage was coined here. we have raised traffic olympics (dodging and driving on shoulders, et al) to an art form. once you master driving in jersey, you can drive anywhere!
i think that maybe part of the problem here – so many drivers from Jersey trying to get out of Philly asap.
aside – have you ever seen a person from Jersey try to parallel park? i’ve seen them pull away from parking spots you could put a bus into; if there isn’t a driveway, oftentimes they have to find an easier spot to pull into.
Hayden, it is so funny you talk about Miami. Back when they had that competition RE: Best Looking vs. Ugliest Cities, Miami kicked our butts. Now I find they are as ill-tempered and psychotic as we are when it comes to driving. Hmmm. I figured it would be all sunshine & roses in the land of the tanned.
Yes, Curl, I have noticed that NJ is allll about driving. As in you must drive everywhere b/c everything is highways and strip malls, except perhaps for Lambertville & some of the residential shore points. Maybe that’s why people get so crazed. They cannot escape from their cars b/c there are so few sidewalks.
John, I would say you are just being mean. But unfortunately immediately after reading that comment, a NJ driver pulled up right in front of our house, attempted to parallel park, failed miserably, and had to move further down the street to a WIDE OPEN SPACE. Coincidence..?
i think jersey outlawed sidewalks a few years back as too many pedestrians were being struck and killed as uncoordinated jersey drivers attempted to parallel park. my car’s so small i just say smuck it and pull in head first into parallel spots. that’s the true spirit of jersey.
Sometimes it’s really hard to take a deep breath and go to the happy place. Especially when you are minding your own business AND the basic rules of road ettiquette, unlike Mr .let me cut you off and flip you the bird while doing so.
Once in awhile after someone cuts me off I will make a point of then letting someone else in or stopping so someone can turn (we’ve got a lot of 2 lane roads around here) when they would normally have to wait and that seems to make me less mad. Buuuut, I usually end up mummbling profanities under my breath.
OrSo, right on! Way to UP good karma, babe! Someone’s got you down, don’t stick it to them – reverse it w/ a kindness. I love it.
BUT I have to tell you, speaking of Mr. flip you off when you are doing right. Last week I had to take my daughters to the dr for their annual checkup. It’s in the middle of town, a total pain to find parking. SOOO I am going down this one street, NO other cars around, SHAZAM! I spy a parking spot ahead, I pull up, flip on the ole turn signal, I start backing up. There’s NO ONE AROUND> when no joke, this car comes zooooooming up behind me AS I AM PULLING INTO THE SPOT. there is NO ONE ELSE ON the 2-lane street, all he needed to do was politely go around me. But no. This jerkwad wants to intimidate me out of MY PARKING SPOT. b/c HE wants it. I was like F*CK NO BUDDY! I stood my ground. I’d stopped when he came out of no where, but I started backing up again. He’s laying into the horn, waving his arms like some freakazoid. I ignored him and kept backing up. My daughters are hollering Mommy, what’s he doing? Why doesn’t he just go around? I said Ladies, Hold tight. I was gonna inch into his damn car if I had to. So I continue parking, and he finally gives up. He pulls up next to me looking like he’s gonna blow, gesticulating to beat the band, and I just blew him a kiss. THAT pissed him off more than anything else I could have done. Good luck to you Mr. silver BMW. I told my daughters, Don’t EVER let anyone intimidate you when you’re in the right. You stand your ground.
I enjoyed the blog. Just to let you know that driving is just as bad over here on teh other side of the great pond as these posts may illustrate:
Take care over there!
Thanks Middle Man! Loved your posts & will think of you each time I see a dirty van with “Wash Me” on the back.