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People living along the North Shore have learned to accept, not always with appreciation, the entertainment provided by urban drivers. I’ll be first to say that outside my element and on a crowded freeway I am out of my league. I lack the seasoned responses and intuitions of a driver who can cut across multiple lanes like a bee on a nectar run. But you’d think (and be wrong) that decent city drivers would be a little less strange or at least not invent new forms of highway driving to test during tourist season. Bizarre driving and auto tricks should be taken to White Sands rather than be tried out on the route to Silver Cliff.
I don’t mean the ordinary rapid-Canadian who assumes immunity for traffic violations and further thinks (as do a great many visitors) that any place not called NYC or LA is part of the Great Plains where the pedal can press the metal and miles be blasted away same as one would drive in Saskatchewan. The Canadian is a special breed of driver. I don’t mean bad, just different from the average US style of widely individualistic driving quirks found in the US where theories of independence run riot over systems of sage judgment. An American will make up a new rule to fit the occasion/violation whereas a Canadian will follow form with customary excessive speed.
During a typical summer I’ll encounter one memorable driving incident involving a visitor every two to three weeks. (Considering the small percentage of time I actually spend driving each day this is more of a statistical reality than it appears.) So far this summer has been right on target but far better on the quality of potentially lethal strangeness seen on the highway. The season’s first gold award went to an exceptional display of impatience when a speeding driver adamantly held to their right to proceed (a driver will always pick floral expression “proceed” when doing a dumb thing because it sounds a whole lot better than a more truthful expression of the event) without pause by passing on the right when a car ahead was signaling to turn left across the highway. It’s wrong to pass on the right, but at times many of us do so in a slowed manner that doesn’t tie up more vehicles with a full stop while the turning car waits for the oncoming cars to pass. It is not right, but we do it. However, doing this without reducing your speed when the do-not-use right lane ends in a bridge abutment is a case of hasty judgment. So, not only did the in-a-hurry driver have to stop anyway, they had to do so in panic mode (the fishtailing boat trailer was quite spectacular to watch) and almost killed themselves in the time saving bargain. I’m sure there are examples as bad or worse, but the one given is reasonably good and set me into defense mode wondering where the flying car parts might go if Rocket Road didn’t stop before kissing the concrete buttress. It feels like a full day’s work when you see the potential of real multicar mayhem break into near reality on your way to the Post Office where a shot of oxygen would have been helpful.
Another automotive entertainment is one I call the car pee-pee dance. This is performed fairly often by drivers wishing to go and showing so by a zigzag left to right as they tailgate. This one, too, is understandable, though why a driver thinks hugging another bumper is constructive on a road full of twists and turns or in heavy two-way traffic is curious. Perhaps this is a sign of optimism for a future opportunity or they practice mimic magic where the pee-pee dance will open a passing opportunity if the road before them. Don’t we all feel the insane messages of people with an urgent need to go? Well, pee-pee drivers think we do and are to be given a respectful distance in recognition of that particular brand of behavior on the public streets.
Quite recently I watched a really accomplished pee-pee driver anxiously zigging behind me while one thing or another detained their move. Then at last they had the chance where open road would allow them to escape the tortures of my 55+ mph pace. The way was clear. They danced, but undecided, they did nothing. Only a short while later the odds of getting cleanly around me were less by half. With determination they could have done it. They did the dance again, but again they did nothing. This might seem odd to a reader, but if you drive the North Shore with any regularity it is not unusual to see drivers stymied by opportunity. And if you’ve driven the shore you can make bets that a pee-pee driver will answer the call at the most pants filling time possible as this one did. The first two sashays of the dance completed the third was a bold “I Got To GO” coming at the exact time when success was far less likely than it was ¾ of a mile ago. At the approach of a hill ten car lengths from the double yellow they shoot out to take the gamble pass. Having decided to make one bad decision they conclude they may as well make two and decide to include in their maneuver passing the vehicle 6 lengths ahead of me. They are going up the hill now in the wrong lane. What am I doing? I’m slowed down and edging aside in hope of avoiding the eighteen wheeler parts and pieces of passenger vehicles that will explode in chaos if there’s a truck cresting the opposite lane. If I could go home I would, but foremost is getting distance on the kill zone which gets more deadly because the pee-pee dancer has belatedly realized how idiotic it is to pass two cars on a hill and has seemingly slowed down to consider. This happens shortly before the “Please God don’t let it be” eighteen wheeler shows and veers right as the pee-pee driver recovers wits and tromps it. Know what? I bet the pee-pee driver proudly thinks they handled that maneuver very well.