From Pat, 01 April 2008:
I thought the worst drivers in the world must all live in Florida, where the turn signal is an optional item, like air conditioning used to be in cars in my Michigan youth. Then I went to Italy and rented a car for a month. A tour book helped prepare me, but it almost frightened me away from renting my own vehicle. But my daughter and I wanted to see the countryside at our own pace, and we had rented an apartment in a villa 20 miles from the nearest bus station. No choice but to bite the dashboard, which my daughter did on occasion — especially on those hair-raising mountainous curves where motorcycles make a third lane out of a two-lane road with no shoulders. No shoulders, that, is unless you count the side of a mountain.
The first rule in driving in Italy is to acknowledge there are no driving rules. Everything seems simple starting from that premise. Stop lights are there for entertainment. A tour book explained the color red is merely a suggestion, and yellow is simply a pretty color. That about sums up the Italian tour de force and one heck of a force it is.
I am no slouch when it comes to driving. I have a pretty little sports car and love to drive it with the top down, stereo blaring and curves awaiting. However, in Italy, I hugged the edge of the road — to make way for the motorcycles driving down the middle in either direction. My eyes darted from rear view mirror, to the road, to the side mirrors and to the back once again.
Am I saying all Italians are egocentric? Not at all. I’m just saying maybe not using a turn signal isn’t the evil I have imagined it to be all these years. But now that I’m home, safe and sound, I’m back on the road in my Miata admiring the prettiness of a yellow light as I pass underneath it.
From Daphne, 31 March 2008:
I agree 100% with your comments about Turn-signal Tessie — she’s a menace.
But years ago I discovered turn signals themselves can be dangerous.
I was headed home around midnight, uncomfortably aware that I was a woman driving alone on very dark streets. Late as it was, there was only one other car on the road, just ahead of me. I’d just completed a Safe Driver’s course, and I was carefully using my turn signals at every corner as we’d been taught. But I did think it a little strange that the car ahead of me was turning the same way I was at each intersection, so I decided to try an experiment: at the next intersection, I didn’t use my turn signal. The other car proceeded through the intersection and I turned right. Suddenly he — I assume it was a “he” — slammed on his brakes and tooted his horn as if to say, “Hey, what gives?”
I stomped on my accelerator and made three or four fast turns, hoping I wouldn’t get lost in the dark and unfamiliar streets. Somehow I found the main highway and got home safely. I never did see a police car, of course.
But ever since then, I’ve only used my turn signals when it’s absolutely necessary.
From Don, 30 March 2008:
As I possess a commercial drivers license I could tell you horror stories to no end! I am especially impressed by the addition of cell phones being used in cars that distract the drivers even more. I have been involved in numerous near death collisions by people chattering away on cell phones. Like the woman that recently pulled out from a gas station with a baby in a carrier seat that while chatting away on her cell never even looked to see if there was anyone else on the planet nearby as she sped headlong into traffic nearly killing herself and her child. ’Course, we all know where her priorities are!
We here in New Jersey have another more sinister type of driver — the aggressive, dare-you-to-do-something-about-it types that actually commit insults to fellow drivers, just looking for a reason to be “insulted” (back at them). When anyone reacts to their vicious behavior they become instantly violent, even committing the greatest of all sins, murder.
Be careful out there!
From Dave, 29 March 2008:
Loved your driver blog....Been there, seen it!
My simple contribution was when I met our former golf club champion at the mailboxes one afternoon. A fine gentleman who mentioned to me that he had aced every Par 3 on the private North Course through the years. I mentioned that I hadn't seen him playing of late and he remarked his eyes were so bad he couldn't see the ball as he once did and therefore would be lost on the course. He gathered his mail and got in his car and drove away leaving me scratching my head and hoping I wouldn't be running into him soon on the road.
From Dixie, 29 March 2008:
We could all tell numerous stories about rude and crude drivers, and yes, I know what it's like to drive I-95 in your area, but my first comment is about drivers on the opposite end of that spectrum — drivers who are "too nice." I want you to focus on the small north-central Pennsylvania community 4-way stop sign. Now we learned in Driver's Ed, 50 years ago, that the first person to arrive at his stop sign continues first through the intersection; if two arrive at the same time, the one on the right goes first. Should be easy, right? Well, around here, the drivers stop and each has to wave the other through. One waves and doesn't go,..... and waits..... then the other waves and smiles and waves the other through and no one moves........ it's hysterical. Finally the smiles turn to frowns as one gestures, YOU GO! and the other gestures, NO, YOU GO! It's politeness gone sour.
One funny story from the week: I went to our local Dodge dealership to have my car serviced. Just an oil change that costs about $20 with the coupon. Mike and Carl are the regular service supervisors and I have been doing business there for 20 years. So Mike suggested that I have the 70,000 mile check-up and get the tires rotated and I agreed that would be a good idea. I waited for an hour and Mike came into the waiting room and told me they had changed the power steering fluid but they couldn't get all the lugnuts off the wheels — they were corroded and swollen from the new-fangled liquid salt they put on the highways in the winter... the mechanics had to drill a few of them off and they were destroyed...... and he didn't have enough in the shop to replace them. He was driving over the mountain (25miles) to get more so they could rotate the tires and finish the job...he also commented that it was a good thing I didn't have to change a flat tire......
Fast forward a few hours and I am looking over my $200 bill in the office where the two regular secretaries work. I asked Ginny what the labor cost was for those "swollen nuts" and both started giggling hysterically. Ginny went around the corner and told Mike to "get in here, Dixie has a question." He walked into the office with a scared look on his face and Ginny asked him to review the bill and explain the "swollen nuts." He turned purple and ran out.
Loved your blog, as always — I wake up on Saturday mornings and there it is..... Dixie