It's (You) Go (Girl) Time!

So today I almost got into a fight with a woman. This is uncomfortable for me to admit because I was raised in the semi-South and still have some bit of discomfort if I go in a door before a woman. And I rarely feel that violence is the answer (exceptions being dealing with my older sister when we were kids and loud people on cell phones). So it is with some bit of shame that I admit this.

To be fair, she seemed ready to pick the fight with me, but I'd have taken my shot.

The problem - as so many do here - stems from driving. I'm convinced that you can understand a lot about the place you live by observing its drivers. How people drive, I'd claim, says a lot about how they deal with governance, with each other, with life in general. And it's no secret (well, maybe to all of you, it is) that I think the drivers here are awful. And I've been scared by taxi drivers in multiple countries and done road trips to a majority of the 50 states. And so, with self-imposed authority, I feel I can say that the drivers here are the worst I've seen.

I'm convinced that folks born in this area are given an option when they first receive their license, allowing them to opt out of any one category of traffic regulation. Pass your exam? Pick a category. Choose wisely, and you never need obey a traffic signal again. Or perhaps speed limits are your nemesis? To their credit, people don't always choose the obvious things. Some of them opt to ignore lanes; some simply decline to obey parking laws in even their most basic form (just after moving here a few years back, I was stunned to see two police cars parked so the officers could talk right in the middle of one of the major traffic arteries. At night. With no lights on.). People here are very creative in their violations of the social compact that is driving.

I should note, up front, I have been accused of being an aggressive driver. I would claim that I am not aggressive, I am goal-oriented. I am definitely a Type-A behind the wheel. But I don't tailgate, and I use my turn signal. I rarely honk my horn or give the finger. Just don't slow me down.

So today, I was out running errands in preparation for the upcoming job shenanigans (and to get a couple more applications done) when I came to a traffic light. It was T-intersection, with two lanes. And this is where it gets odd. The left lane could turn left. But the right lane, in keeping with the innovation that has made this area what it is, could turn left, right or go straight. I was in the left lane. In the right lane, were a variety of cars, some of which which had applied their turn signals (some of those even turned the way their signals indicated).

As I turned left, a white pickup truck in the right lane was also turning left (for those of you who are wondering, the truck came with the requisite American flag - in this case as a sort of ripped decal indicating that the truck itself was actually red, white and blue and had only bee unpatrioticaly covered with white paint, possibly by some pinko leftist or foreign car driver (if not both)). But as we both turned, the white truck pushed well into my lane, forcing me into the lanes of traffic crossing the top of the T). My choice was hit or be hit or brake and honk my horn. I went with the third option.

To my surprise, at the next stop light, the truck stopped well short of the light so I'd pull up beside, and the window rolled down and a woman began to yell at me, demanding to know why I dared honk at her. I rolled down my window, and without raising my voice explained that she was cutting into my lane and forcing me into traffic and that I was either going to be hit or I could try and communicate to her that I was there.

And that's when it happened. She said, "YOUR lane? YOUR LANE?!" and began to open her door.

She was going to get out of her truck and give me a piece of her mind. Perhaps she was going to open a can of whup-ass on me.

Now this isn't the first time in my life this has happened. When I was in high school in Texas, someone got angry with me for something in traffic and did the same thing. But it was a 19 year old guy with a mullet driving a Camaro. Macho makes a sort of sense when you're 19. But this was, to my eyes, a 40ish woman.

And so I started laughing (which is what I always do at these moments) and thinking about what a statement it would be if I opened my car door, too. This is where our society has come, I thought. This is why I must get out of here. And then, as happened when I was 19, the light turned green, and the moment was over.

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4 Responses to “It's (You) Go (Girl) Time!”
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adjunct whore said...

oh my god, do we live in the same town???? who are you really, dr. c? because i not only identify myself as the same kind of driver, but never in my life have i EVER lived in a town with such really terrifyingly horrible drivers. for example, these people do not know their right from their left--it is so common, in fact, to use the wrong turn signal, when used at all, that i typically wait now.

November 11, 2007 at 11:56 AM
adjunct whore said...

notice how i'm not addressing the gendered aspect of this, ahem, title, etc.

November 11, 2007 at 11:56 AM
Dr. Curmudgeon said...

The gendered aspect of it is part of what's so intriguing. Sure, I love complaining about the drivers here. And since I grew up in Texas, so I'm used to guys being idiots. But to have a woman jump out of her truck ready to pick a fight? That threw me.

I'll be honest, part of what I found myself thinking was what a complicated moment to have to untangle. And trying to figure out my range of responses and what each would say, well, that was more than a traffic light would allow.

November 11, 2007 at 12:01 PM
ash said...

oh. my. god. i am sorry that you are still there. so, so very sorry. last week i saw someone who looked just like you walking toward me on my campus. sadly, it was not you. i wish you were down here with us. the drivers are much better. a little slow, but (stereotypically) polite.

November 11, 2007 at 9:01 PM