By Monte Lazarus
‘Tis the season of “Dodge ‘Em” the good old classic amusement park ride. That’s the one with the bumper cars that smash into each other…great fun for kids. But maybe, just maybe, those rides have something to do with the crazies who are now on the road. No, it’s more than that. No one could do some of the goofy things we’ve all seen, or participated in, every day. It seems to be highly seasonal, not that it’s confined to snowbirds. The influx of people from those places with funny names like, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York (interchangeably) Iowa, Kentucky and lots of others just compound our everyday problem. Canadians, I must note, tend to be somewhat better drivers. Maybe it’s those freezing winters that keep them more alert.
It wasn’t long ago on Fifth Avenue in Naples, Florida, of course. I’d expect everything that follows in Naples, Italy. I was driving with my Sainted Mother. There It was; a spectacular sight. A little old man was hunched over the wheel of his Volvo as he calmly drove down the sidewalk scattering people from hither to yon, and even farther. That was a wowie, but there is more each day.
There’s the teenager, male or female by the way, who apparently believes roads were built for weaving at 75 miles per hour like an NFL running back. It’s a challenge to see how many drivers they can panic as they make their mad dash to nowhere. Let’s add some (no, not all) motorcyclists who demonstrate (1) their bravery and (2) their idiocy by tempting fate with some truly extraordinary weaving in and out.
At the other end of the spectrum is the driver, male or female, who insists in driving on the left lane of the highway, state road, county road, or four-lane road at their perceived speed limit of 14.7 miles per hour, as frustrated folks line up behind in despair.
How about the driver, male or female, who blinks left and turns right or vice-versa? Or, how about the driver, male or female, who just loves to cut across three lanes of traffic to make a left or right turn?
I’ve never seen so many cars that apparently have malfunctioning lane/turn signals as this year. Only about 37% appear to have working systems, and maybe Consumer Reports should push for a massive recall to correct all those problems. It has to be mechanical; it couldn’t be the drivers could it?
I really enjoy the tailgaters. Maybe they’re just trying to be cuddly as they hang onto your bumper at 70 mph on I-75. And, that’s in the “slow” lane. One touch of your brake and you may all be history.
One of my favorites is the driver, male or female, who decides that the merge signs are pretty decorations. They speed up, usually in the right lane, in a mad dash to cut you off and have the supreme satisfaction of gaining an entire car length over you. It’s called “winning” I believe.
The next one, I’m sorry to report, is exclusively female, unless it’s an abnormal male. This is the nice lady who insists on applying layers of makeup whilst operating a motor vehicle. This is often accomplished with two hands to my astonishment and near-admiration. How do they do it?
The electronic age produced the infamous “texter”. Their fascination with their thumbs won’t even quit in an automobile or truck. There must be a lot of important stuff going on for the amount of communication going on. I try to get far away from “texters” on the road because some piece of texted gossip might cause a disaster. Several states have banned texting while driving. In California a driver can be ticketed simply for having a cell phone in hand while on the road. How do I know? An unnamed relative of mine received a rather hefty fine for holding a phone while in the driver’s seat, even though the phone wasn’t on.
Just for a footnote let’s acknowledge the wonderful folks who take up two or three parking spaces, particularly when things are most crowded. Apparently those parking lane dividers are for artistic purposes only.
All of the above leads me to a number of conclusions:
• There is no sexism involved, except for the makeup problem.
• Don’t just blame the snowbirds.
• Drive fatalistically.
• Be happy if you never learned to text.
• In the words of Pogo: “We’ve met the enemy and he is us.”