Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I Hate Driving (part two)

So it's been two and a half years since my first "I Hate Driving" entry. I preemptively subtitled it "(part one)" with direct intentions of producing another bowl of keen observations and disparate complaints. Perhaps I drained most of the good material, but let's see what happens.

Gas Prices:
Gas prices are typically ridiculous. It just doesn't pay to drive anywhere. Seeing "$4.00" on a gas station sign is just damn frightening. To make matters worse, I drive a fuel inefficient Mustang, which eats gasoline like, well, a horse. Ok, horses don't eat gasoline (except for the retarded ones) but be a little creative with my similes here. Didn't we send myriad people off to Iraq to die for that country? Can't we tap the two zillion oil wells out there, just as some type of payback for liberating them? Come on already. And the cost of absolutely everything goes up due to that famous phrase "rising fuel costs".

The Cabbers:
Once I was asked to pay homage to those that just don't drive. I call most of them the "cab people". Ever notice that the types of people that take a cab everywhere seem a bit more bossy and managerial than most? One might conclude that they just like ordering a driver around. "Driver, take me home." "Driver, stop here." "Driver, let me vomit in your goat skin man-purse."

Asynchronous Stoplights:
Oh, this one gets to me. I swear that some lousy suburbs and villages, those that thirst for traffic ticket revenue, purposely ensure that a motorist will have to stop at every damn intersection, regardless of the time of day. No cross traffic? So what. Red light. Slick roads? Too bad, red light. I've spent 3 minutes staring at a red light at midnight, waiting for a sensorless traffic light to turn green, even though it's merely the exit to a shopping mall or vacated factory. I truly advocate a need for an unwritten rule of pragmatism here, so that in such cases, moving through a completely deserted intersection would be legal. It should be. Invest in sensors, you cheap idiots.

Now the transportation geniuses have come up with cameras to take a snapshot of a car's license plate if the car appears to run a red light or break a speed limit. Now you, the vehicle's owner, can be ticketed for a moving violation even if another person was driving the car. The insurance related ramifications for a moving violation are sometimes rather harsh, and now you, the car owner, are responsible for any infractions incurred by someone who borrows your car? Stupid, stupid idea. Nice in concept, but try the old fashioned system...pull people over in person, none of this automated garbage.

The Stereo People:
I hate these guys. They have those bassy audio systems that vibrate the entire car, and literally shake all windows and vehicles in a one block radius. Who needs a system this loud and, well, violent? These systems trigger car alarms, seismographs, building alarms, etc. The vibrations are such that a neighboring car can literally shake all my spare change out of my dashboard. I know I've lost paint and hubcaps from my car due to these idiots. May just one of them be deaf by now.

Purple Headlight Guys:
More bozos, similar to the stereo ones. These dopes drive with obnoxiously bright purple headlights (illegal in many states). For what reason, I don't know. It doesn't seem to help anyone, including the driver, who is likely stoned and barely hanging onto the road to begin with.

Flag People:
More dorks that I want to see wrapped around a telephone pole. On various "independence" days, I'll see a bevy of Puerto Rican flags, or Polish flags, or Mexican flags, sticking up from the car as it swerves about its route. It's almost as if they are just driving around to have the little flags wave in the air more. You know what I haven't seen yet? American flags. That either says something about immigrant defiance or true American reserve.

Bike Riders:
Ok, I understand that it's nice to be friendly to the environment and ride a bike to work, the gym, or wherever the yuppies are headed. I also recognize the roads that offer a separate bike lane for those that need it. But when they are assimilating themselves into the "real" traffic and taking up an entire lane, puttering along at 15 miles per hour, it's irritating as hell. Then there are the ones that decide to use the standard left turn lane, as though they were a regular car. You're not a damn car! See? Engine. Vroom vroom. Car. Car go fast. You pedal, ringy dingy honk honk. Get out of the way. Take your little bell, your little basket, your little horn, and get the hell off the road.

Road Construction:
Well, here we go. I'm surprised I didn't whine more before, but what the hell. Here in Chicago, it's a strange, intimate, sweetheart deal between the unions and the city which predicate excessive, often unnecessary projects to fulfill quotas and contracts funded by state and federal governments. While often working in the late hours, I thought I'd be able to skirt the inevitable congestion that is engendered by such extraneous construction. Um, no. Coming home late one night, I noticed the increased frequency of closing lanes for construction during overnight hours. On a local expressway, I saw the sign "right 3 lanes closed ahead". That was consternating to me, as there were only 3 lanes to begin with. Ho ho boy, nothing like a long backup at around midnight.

Stupid Pedestrians:
Why are they always stupid? Maybe that explains why they aren't driving, and I should be grateful. I'll be trying to make a left turn, get the arrow, and dum-dee-dum, dum-dee-dum, dopity doe, limpity doo, some idiot is already crossing the street to which I am attempting to turn. The signal clearly says DON'T WALK. I thought morons were only good at not doing things - so they can't NOT walk? For a few seconds? Invariably, a mild traffic impasse occurs, and I'm left in the middle of the intersection, seeing my left turn arrow disappear, while Otis the drunk finishes his stumble across the street. Just around this point is when the "WALK" sign lights up, and I look like a jerk for driving in front of the sporadic few that actually understand the signs.

The Charity Collectors:
We all know them. They patrol the intersections and off ramps, waiting for cars to stack up at a red light, then pounce upon their prey. It's bad enough to deal with the creepy homeless guys who hold up cardboard signs and nag the unfortunate drivers for cash. But then we have to deal with the "sanctioned" collectors, purportedly representing some legitimate organization, who feel entitled to collect from everyone, lest they be banished to Hades for refusing to donate. Recently I was riding along with a couple guys in a county truck, and this kid strolled up wearing a "Kiwanis Peanut Day" blaze orange vest. He wasn't a part of that organization at all, it turns out - he was representing some ministry and hassling us for money while dishing out these comical "How Do I Get To Heaven" pamphlets with illustrations reminiscent of the comic strip "Drabble". I just wonder how many gangs, shady outfits, and enterprising groups have made hundreds of dollars from trapped motorists by donning a blaze orange vest and appearing to be from a legitimate charity.

Traffic Blockers:
We've seen them enough times. These are the people that are so self-important, they must begin their tenuous left turn by pulling into traffic and blocking everyone, so they can wait for the remaining traffic to clear up and thus complete their turn. I love these people, they have no respect for safety, other people's schedules, or road etiquette. Worse yet, I've seen the situation in which the passenger gets out of the car, stands in the road, and halts all traffic, so the driver may proceed unimpeded and make it to his/her massage therapy appointment.

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