Yesterday, Mr. Andi and I were on our way to church when I was reminded, yet again, how different things are everywhere we move. Mr. Andi proceeded on the entrance ramp to the interstate and was forced to bring the car to a complete stop. On the on ramp. From 50 mph to zero in about three seconds. As I looked left, I saw the truck which forced my husband to stop. And nothing else. There was no other vehicle in sight. The driver of the truck decided against easing into the left lane and allowing my husband to proceed. Instead, as I told my husband, the driver was teaching him a lesson.
"We don't do it like that here," I could imagine him saying. Laughing, as he passed us.
You see, I had been taught the same lesson days before by a man who actually took it a step further. He honked his horn multiple times, after forcing me to stop, and gestured wildly, as if I were the crazy one.
Yesterday's incident prompted me to go on one of my "nutty driver" rants. Something Mr. Andi has heard multiple times since we moved and something that did little to put me in the correct frame of mind for church. We hadn't been living here long when I realized that highway driving around here isn't quite what I'm used to. The first time I attempted to get on the highway, a lady in front of me stopped cold. I was confused because there was no oncoming traffic, yet she treated the on-ramp as a 4-way stop. She appeared to be an elderly woman, so I passed it off as such. But no. No, that wasn't it at all. As I've since found, this puzzling behavior often holds true no matter the driver's age.
Now, perhaps I'm the crazy one here, but I believe the on ramp is there specifically to allow you to merge onto the highway. There is no stop sign, there is a yield sign. And there's a reason for this. Other drivers understand this. That's why they move over and allow you on the highway, traffic permitting. Yes, there are times when traffic is heavy and you are forced to stop, but those cases are the exception and not the rule. Unless you live around here, that is.
Here, people stop at the on ramp quite often. Even when they don't need to. Furthermore, if a car is already on the highway and the driver of said car sees you attempting to yield rather than stop, he will sometimes go out of his way to force you to stop by not moving over and allowing you to continue on your way, uninterrupted.
George, look, there's another one trying to merge into traffic without first coming to a complete stop.
Yeah, I saw him. I'll.Show.Him.
Don't you let him over.
Oh, don't you worry. I would never do such a thing.
Honestly, I do believe these conversations take place. I also believe there is a point system. One which awards points to local drivers who force other drivers stop on the on ramp. I believe there is a prize center somewhere where people claim their prizes for accumulating the most points in a month.
After church, I came home and stumbled across this piece written by an Army spouse. Seems Florida has its own set of driving quirks. I began to think about other duty stations and about driving in different regions of the country.
When we lived in Washington, I thought that driving around town was rather risky. Drivers are all over the map there. There is some crazy driving going on in our Nation's Capitol. Crazy in a high-speed, turn right from the left lane, take-no-parishioners, exit at the last minute, u-turn when you fell like it, honk-your-horn-a lot kind of way.
When we lived in Texas, I thought driving was some kind of pleasurable event that I was supposed to enjoy. A lot. The people of Texas are warm and friendly and seem to really enjoy life. Driving there was the equivalent of taking a leisurely Sunday stroll. Smelling the roses, and all that stuff.
When we lived in Oklahoma and Kansas, I tried to stay off the roads as much as possible in the winter because of the snow and ice. I didn't trust myself. Judging from the numerous one finger salutes and horn honks, the other drivers didn't trust me much either.
So, if I make it out of this duty station without a road rage incident that is captured on tape and ends up on CNN and You Tube, I'll consider this tour of duty a big, fat success. And if I don't, it's been nice knowing all of you.