How To Win Friends and Influence People (In Your Car)

I don’t drive very much. I think I’ve told the story somewhere here about how when I went to renew my insurance and asked for a lower rate based on my mileage, no one at the insurance agency believed me when I said how much I drove annually, and everyone had to troop out to the parking lot to look at my odometer? No? Well, anyway, the point is, I do not drive very much. I take my car to the grocery store twice a week and to the City periodically, and that’s about it.

One would think, on the basis of that, that I do not have very many opportunities to get infuriated by fellow drivers. Au contraire, mes amies. In fact, my insurance agent once told me that the majority of accidents happen close to home, and I can see why, judging from the fact that people do the most infuriating and dangerous things in cars within three blocks of my house[1. Like, say, not stopping at the stop sign on the cross street next to my house where people going east-west have right of way. I cannot tell you how many times I have almost been t-boned by an inattentive driver, and, believe me, being t-boned in a convertible is not something that will brighten your day.].

Thus, I am periodically driven to bust out on a driving rant, and today is your lucky day, because other drivers have been pissing me off to an unusually high degree lately. I suspect there is a strong correlation here between the high levels of tourist traffic in the summer, my increasing crankiness in heat, and the infuriation levels I reach behind the wheel in the summer time.

Signals. Use them. When you are not using them, turn them off. It’s kind of a hip thing in California to not signal, and can I tell you how annoying that is? It is annoying. Why? Because if you are not signaling, I do not expect you to abruptly slow down and turn or change lanes. Incidentally, you need to signal a turn before you start braking. Not after. Signaling is a warning, not an afterthought. Also? Signaling is also required when you change lanes, and no, signaling that you want to move into my lane does not magically make a spot appear. It means that I am made aware of the fact that you would like to be in my lane and I will do my best to accommodate your desire.

Speed. Everyone drives at a different one. And that is cool, really. I, for example, sometimes drive like a bat out of hell, and sometimes like a slowpoke, depending on numerous factors that I don’t want to get into. The point is, I do not take it personally when someone wants to go faster than me. On one lane roads, I pull over to let people pass, and on the freeway, I don’t do things like speeding up when people try to go around me, or, say, brakechecking people who are unhappy with my rate of speed. Surprisingly, other drivers apparently have not grasped this, and take it as a personal offense when I want to go faster than them. Seriously? I’m sure you’re a fine person, and my desire to go faster than you does not reflect in any way, shape, or form on your goodness or decency as a human being. Also, I am driving a sportscar, and you are not. It is kind of to be expected, ok?

Parking. Look, I am going to straight up tell you that I am a really shitty parallel parker, despite the best efforts of numerous parking experts to teach me. However, that said, I manage to avoid occupying two spaces at once, and I don’t try to do shiesty things like fitting into spaces that are too small for my car. The thing about taking up two spaces, you know, is that it creates a domino effect of frustration, and it makes me want to plant one of my very stylish and very sharp Italian heels square in the middle of your windshield. If you are searching for parking, which is fine and dandy, please signal so that I understand why you are going two miles and hour and weaving all over the road, and please don’t go to take a space, change your mind, and whip back out into traffic.

Stop signs. Are there for a reason. I feel like this shouldn’t need to be said, but evidently, it does. If there is a big red sign that says ‘stop,’ it means that you need to stop. If it is a four way intersection and someone got there before you, that person gets to go first. If you get there at the same time as someone else, the person on the right goes, or you can wave someone on if you are feeling nice. If a stop sign goes through another intersection where the other street always has the right of way, try rolling out instead of gunning it so that if someone is coming, a collision will not occur. Collisions are expensive! And also annoying.

Pedestrians. Don’t hit them. Here in the Golden State, they have the right away. That means that when I am stopped at an intersection, I will remain in a stationary position if someone is crossing the street. Why? Because, well, one, I do not want to hit that person, and, two, that person legally has the right of way. Don’t you go honking at me for not going. I am not going to hit a pedestrian to satisfy your need to be in motion, ok?

Intersections that you cannot clear. Do not enter them. Do you know what happens when traffic is backed up and some asshat enters an intersection anyway, even though there’s no way it will clear before the light changes? The light changes, the asshat is still in the middle of the street, the cross traffic cannot go, and then traffic gets backed up the other way, too. In addition to being illegal, entering an intersection you cannot clear is just a jackassy thing to do. So don’t honk at me when I refuse to do it. And when the road is two lanes, don’t go around me to enter the intersection in front of me. You can’t clear it either. Fuck off.