Friday, September 30, 2022

On Neighborliness

      We do share the barrel with other monkeys, and nowhere more than in traffic.  The daily drive is often seen through a lens of "Nature, red in tooth and claw."  This is largely nonsensical fantasy, despite that guy who just cut in front of you with inches to spare.  (Hey!  Where'd you learn to drive, jerk?)

      One of the main roads I take to and from work has been repaved over the last several (and more!) months, necessitating frequent and annoying detours.  The paving is finally done (and what a lovely, smooth surface it is!) but the lane markings are no more than widely-spaced blobs of tape and sketchy chalklines showing where new stripes and stencils will be applied.  If you drive it often, you know where you need to be, but drivers who are unfamiliar with the road often struggle at the larger intersections.

      My car is in the shop with a flaky alternator (and that won't be cheap).*  The dealer's got me in a 2021 version of the 2007 Lexus RX350 I usually drive.  It's as plush and pretty as you might expect, and I'd like to hand it back in the same shape as they loaned it to me.  So when I pulled up in the middle lane at a particularly opaque intersection next to a car in the ostensible left-turn lane with no signals, I worried.

      The driver of the other car, a women who looked to be about my age, had her gaze fixed across the intersection, where are small jog lines up the straight-ahead lanes in each direction while allowing for dedicated right- and left-turn lanes in the oncoming side.  She looked over at me and I gestured to ask if she was going to turn left.  She pointed straight ahead and rolled down her window.  "I'm going straight.  Am I in the wrong lane?  It's so hard to tell!"

      I smiled.  "The markings aren't very clear.  You go ahead when the light changes, and I'll fall in behind."  Last week, headed the other way at the same intersection, I'd followed a frantic scramble as two drivers crossed side-by-side and jockeyed to enter the single lane going their direction.  It wasn't anything I cared to copy, especially in a loaner vehicle.

     She smiled back, nodded, and pulled ahead as the light changed.  All very smooth, no surprises or fights to get across first.  Who needs extra stress?
* They've also reported the tires have started dry-rotting, the usual failure mode for tires on my vehicles other than bicycles.  But I'll shop around for a new set, thank you very much.  There's also at least one "keep an eye on it" that might cost as much as I paid for the car, one of those cute little design issues that requires pulling the engine to change out a hundred-dollar part.  Makes me miss Checker automobiles, I'll tell ya.


  1. You and your sister driver demonstrated the sane way to approach driving under your given conditions. More power to you both!

    My being able to keep calm in traffic, I find, is in direct proportion to the confidence I have in being able to predict what other drivers will do. Back in the 1980s, while working in the LA area, I was quite calm driving - especially on the freeways. I knew what drivers would do. They signaled before making lane changes. They made abrupt lane changes. There needed to be only inches to spare between the two cars between which they wished to merge. They drove as fast as traffic would allow. Seriously. It was great - at that time. (I don't know how it is these days.)

  2. Roberta X: your brief conversation with your fellow driver warmed my shriveled little heart. Civility, communication, co-operation. How refreshing!

    Cop Car: I found myself in the late 70's driving my 400cc motorcycle around LA. OMG. I quickly realized I didn't WANNA go 70-80mph in a 55 in order to not get run over. No one should be in such a hurry. OTOH, using turn signals is definitely a plus. I wish drivers in my state knew about them.

  3. Cop Car, The traffic is noticeably heavier than it was in the late eighties, but otherwise the cars signal their changes. Or rather the drivers do. It's about the same, I think. I have to know where I'm going and what lanes to be in; otherwise it's hard to merge into the correct lane.


Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment will not be visible until approved. Arguing or use of insulting or derogatory language will result in your comment going unpublished: no name-calling. Comments I deem excessively partisan will not be published.