The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘California drivers’

Driving us crazy.

Posted by keithosaunders on November 10, 2010

Today’s special guest poster is none other than my esteemed and lovely wife, Debra.  She is here to give you a fresh take on the state of driving, as well as being a pedestrian in the great state of California.  Enjoy!


Ok, so I understand that driving, like slang, has its regional idiosyncrasies.  Certain unspoken local driving rules like lean on your horn when the guy in front of you fails to notice the right on red sign, are perfectly reasonable and to be expected, and while I have done business and spent countless hours in San Fran over the years, when it comes to driving I am a stranger in a strange land.

For instance, while driving around I have noticed that pedestrians have the right of way.  Indeed they have the moral high ground, stepping leisurely in front of cars and aiming a scarily perfected dirty look my way should I violate these cardinal rights.  Lamely pointing to my NY plates, hoping that would explain my audacity, is useless.   Traffic signals, crosswalks, and lights be damned, the driver must stop as the ped strolls across.   A friend told me that if you kill a pedestrian you can be charged with manslaughter.  Good enough for me.  I ease up on the gas (which will inevitably get me a special greeting from east coast drivers when in NY) and try to fit in.

Once after dropping Keith off on a corner and carefully turning the corner I congratulated myself on my newfound courtesy behind the wheel.  Imagine my dismay when I later learned that upon hearing a mild hurumph from a nearby pedestrian, Keith turned to the gentleman, shook his head and said “Boy, drivers in this city, huh!”  This was all the affronted pedestrian needed to launch into a sympatico tirade in which they both lamented the complete lack of regard for pedestrians and all their superiority.  Keith has claimed this his most successful Bay Area bonding experience so far.

So…you can imagine my excitement when the tables turned and I had occasion to don the mantle of pedestrianism.  I was in Berkeley of all places, with Lucy. [our daughter]  What luck!  At last I could lord my earth-friendly, self-propelled personage above those gas guzzling heathens.  “Watch this Lucy, its our turn,” I said, as I approached the curb, at the crosswalk.   Mind you, there are rules, you know, and I waited for the traffic to grind to a halt. 

Whizz whizz…I stepped maybe a foot off the curb.  Vroom, whizz.  What the…!?!?!  Both of us clucked, hurumphed, and looked in the eyes of the drivers.  Eventually, a break in the cars opened and we dashed across.  The cars were a half a block away, barreling down, and stopping was the furthest thing from their minds.

Clearly I am missing something.  The worst part is the looks and scolding that go with the infractions.  I miss the good ol’ middle finger and nasally epithet of New York drivers.  Quick, emotional, and easy to return in kind.  In fact, it would be an act of friendship when you see me in New York to forgo the wave and flip me a bird in greeting and we can exchange a few mild epithets as well.  Come on, make my day!

Deb and Lucy in Berkeley, temporarily safe from the traffic.

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