Driving 101

As many of you know, I’m the lucky recipient of a brand spanking new hip, which, for a number of reasons, has put me in a slightly different frame of mind over the last several weeks. Residual effects of anesthesia (which I’m told can mess with your brain for up to a year), pain dulling to annoying discomfort, a very slow moving body and forced down time I had all made me see things a little differently.

Among those things are the driving habits of about 75% of the general population, most of whom have forgotten what they learned only long enough to pass their driver’s test, apparently. So, how many of the following will each of you get right? Let’s see. (These are for Minnesota Driving Regulations only, I can’t speak to any other states.)

  1. Right turn on red is: a) never allowed. b) allowed unless otherwise posted, with a rolling stop  c) allowed unless otherwise posted, but only after coming to a complete stop d) always allowed
  2. A stop sign a) only requires a complete stop if there are other vehicles in visible line of sight  b) only requires a complete stop if there are police vehicles in visible line of sight  c) requires a complete stop at all times   d) what’s a stop sign?
  3. After stopping at a stop sign, you can proceed a) through the crosswalk as long as there are no pedestrians in it  b) through the crosswalk assuming you can get through ahead of the pedestrians c) the pedestrians have to stop for vehicles of course, drive on through!
  4. The Move Over Law  a) states all vehicles traveling slower than the posted speed limit need to move to the far right lane on a multi-lane road, or pull to the shoulder on a two-lane road if traffic is unable to safely pass on the left side  b)that you move to the lane farthest away from emergency vehicles, if possible to do so safely  c) we have a Move Over Law?
  5. Correctly identify the sign below:   a) Wheelchair parking only  b) Parking for vehicles with the appropriate disability plates or permits only   c) For use by anyone as long as they aren’t caught.

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The answers are (in case you didn’t know) 1c, 2c, 33a, 4b, 5b.  How many did you get wrong? I hope none, but over the past weeks since I resumed driving after surgery, I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen most of these violated, the exception being the last one. Given adequate time, even that too will happen, sadly. Why am I more sensitive about this? Probably because the speed at which I had been moving much more closely resembled that of the proverbial tortoise, rather than the hare. At Wal-Mart a few weeks ago, I had just parked my car in one of the spots denoted with the sign above (and yes, I have my permit), and got out of my car, proceeding toward the store slowly using my cane. As I approached the crosswalk, a woman came from my right side, briefly glanced at the stop sign (see question #2) decided that red octagonal signs with white outlines were optional and proceeded through the crosswalk – which I had already entered – without stopping (see question #3).

Perhaps I had my cloaking device on again. That had to be it, because that’s the only rational explanation I can come up with for the sheer stupidity exhibited by this apparently adult woman who appeared to be in her 40’s. Not a teen, not anyone talking on their cell phone, and apparently in command of all of her faculties although that is up for debate from my perspective.

I do know that most insurance companies offer discounts to drivers over a certain age if they take a defensive driving course, and in Minnesota it’s 55 years of age. Perhaps it wouldn’t be an entirely dumb idea to offer that discount earlier? Start it at age 30, then boost the value at age 55 from 10% to 15%. State Farm, are you listening? Because apparently people are stupid WAY earlier than at age 55. News flash: yellow lights aren’t for fun, they are to alert you that the red is coming so you can try to stop, not speed up, dumbass! And if you’re climbing up my tailpipe when I’m going the speed limit, knock it the hell off, I’m not speeding up just to make you happy. Ain’t happening, and all you’re gonna get by tailgating me is a) more pissed off, b) a possible ticket for tailgating  c) a possible bigger ticket for the accident you caused when you rear ended me, because in Minnesota if you rear end someone, it IS your fault and d) a lawsuit for rear ending me, dumbass.

If you recognized yourself in any of the above scenarios, perhaps a refresher in Driving 101 is right up your alley.

White Line Fever

I. Am. Spoiled. Rotten.

I am a fully mature, adult woman and can admit that without fear of embarrassment or humiliation, although knowing some of my friends, the jury is still out on retribution. I am lucky enough to work for a large Fortune 100 company that believes telecommuting can be very effective (at least until I start writing best sellers and can start my 2nd – or 3rd career), and has 34% of it’s workforce at home. I’m part of the 34%, and feel so fortunate to be able to get up every day, roll out of bed, wake up at my leisure, drink my coffee, read, and walk to work in my jammies/shorts/jeans/sweats or other uniform of the day. I might go to the office once every other month or so for a class or special meeting. When I do, my first reaction is, of course, the reminder of how glad I am that I’m a telecommuter. Not because I’m getting up earlier than normal – oh no, the days of sleeping in are long gone now that I am, as my mother so kindly puts it, “at that stage of my life” and I generally wake between 5 and 6 every day. I just like not having to muck around with the dressing up, the make up, the hair, the jewelry, the shoes (ok, maybe the shoes are ok. I mean, let’s be real.) Then comes my second reaction. It goes a little something like this.

“What the…” mumble, mumble, swear, “what’s the matter with you, jerk face!” (Soothing jazz from satellite radio plays in the background). Keep driving, settle in, then “arrgghhhh” hit the brakes, swerve, pull back, speed up, slow down, let someone merge along with the jerk who snuck in because he has ants in his pants and can’t wait his turn. That’s just in the first 10 of 35 miles.

I HATE traffic. Really. Did anyone out there take Driver’s Ed besides me? Blinkers are NOT just pretty colored lights, nor are they optional. If your “boom-boom” music is making my mirrors vibrate, you should get a ticket. If you force your way up in line in merging traffic going from 2 lanes to one, you should be forced to have a bumper sticker on your car that says “I don’t know how to merge in zipper formation, I’m an idiot”.

Eight-sided red signs with thin white outlines aren’t optional, no matter what your high school friends told you back in central Minnesota, merge means “yes, bonehead, you too”, and the bright red light that comes after the yellow one? IT DOES NOT MEAN GO FASTER. The white lines that are painted on the road have a purpose. Stay between them, and you’ll find life is much better, particularly if they are solid and not dashed.

Did I mention I hate traffic?  If you can’t do hands free on your cellphone, don’t use it. (You probably shouldn’t anyway, but I know some must, and I’ve done it too, but only hands free and don’t when conditions are such that my attention has to be laser focused on the road.) And for the love of, STOP TEXTING, sheesh, amazing that anyone needs to be told THAT one.  I look around and my blood pressure is up, my heart beats faster and no dreaming of my happy place on a beach in the Caribbean or sailing on a tall ship can make the tension of traffic go away. Like the redneck comedians say, “here’s your sign!”

Thank heavens it’s only a day now and then. Yep, spoiled rotten. I can live with that. And if my friends don’t like it, well they can just come drive me to work every day instead. No more spoiled me AND no crabby me. If that’s not a win, I don’t know what would be. But since I’m more likely to get a jet pack before a chauffeur, I think I’ll opt for my version of the Staples Easy Button, and keep working from home. But for the love of God, don’t make us use the webcams.