Driving in Austin is like taking the Kobayashi Maru twice a day, five days a week. That might not be the last Star Trek reference of this blog, in case you sighed a bit. Maybe not even the last one of this post.
For a while now, the first thing my wife and I would talk about after I got home from work each day was all of the ways we were almost killed during the drive. While this infuriating game delivered some morbid catharsis, I started to feel the need to take my daily run ins with inattentives, distracteds, phone talkers, makeup appliers, and especially dumbasses to a wider audience. And feel free to add your own tales of vehicular woe. This is an open forum. Illustrations, cartoons, photos are all encouraged.
So to be fair, I have become measurably more tense and critical behind the wheel ever since I started carting our daughter around. I drive a Fit, which is probably among the 10 smallest cars sold in the United States. And I drive it in Texas. I’m sure there are plenty of Texans who would be more than happy to declare transporting a kid in any vehicle smaller than an F150 child abuse, and to a degree I almost agree, but that’s the situation I’m living with. It’s a tiny little car, but it’s not invisible. It’s slow and sometimes a challenge to get out of danger in ways that don’t involve ABS. I’ve concluded, after hundreds of near misses and a couple of non-misses, most drivers are simply incompetent. I’m opening myself up to possibly deserved criticism by placing myself on a pedestal, but I can take it, and I can admit when I do screw the pooch. Which does happen on occasion.
Anyway, the pitch. For now I’ll avoid listing my pet peeves and just describe actual instances of near catastrophe.
For example… Tuesday evening we loaded up in the Fit to head to Barton Creek Mall to check out dishwashers. Ours has been leaving an unsettling amount of schmutz on dishes, clogging, and generally doing a poor job of doing its job. Leaving the mall, we were first in line at a traffic light. I was in the middle of three lanes. The far right was a right turn north onto Loop 360, my lane and the far left lane were left turn south onto 360. The light turned green and we pulled forward, across the northbound lanes and began turning left into the outside southbound lane. The silver Volvo that was to my left at the light did the same. Meaning, rather than turn left into the inside lane, as clearly denoted by the white lines painted on the road surface, he started to come into my lane. Where I was. I looked over and he saw me, but continued to demand the space my car occupied. I honked, He kept coming. I had no choice at this point but to swerve to the right and jam the brakes.
Fluff you you goo-dang puppy fluffer! We’re watching our language in front of the baby…
It was an instance identical to this that actually promoted the idea for this blog. Similar situation with a light and the two left lanes making parallel transitions to a new road. A black Chevy Silverado charged from behind me into my lane, forcing me into oncoming traffic. Except rather than realize his mistake and try to run away from me, this guy hucked an empty beer car out his window at me once we came to a stop at the next light.
And just yesterday, a white Camry pulled an identical maneuver when turning left from Berkeley onto Manchaca. Again, full ABS activation, horn, eliciting a demure, “Oops!” look from the driver, who was more concerned with the iPhone in her left hand and the breakfast taco in her right. I can only assume she negotiated the “turn” with her knees. In a school zone. Brilliant.