Stop, Go, Panic

Posted on July 10, 2010

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I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m a great driver. And my boyfriend might go so far as to say I’m not a great driver (even though he has no problem riding around in the car with me and letting me drive him everywhere). But I’m at least not a complete menace to my fellow drivers because so far I’ve only gotten in one accident and it wasn’t my fault because this guy ran a red light. I have also never hit anyone or anything (besides maybe a curb here or there). I think that means I’m at least doing something right. 

I know that driving really does take a fair amount of skill. Like, you have to be able to sit for extended periods of time (which apparently is important according to some drug commercials, because if you can’t, then you may die), you also need to be able to steer, and to anticipate and react to unforeseen situations, while also adjusting your radio and talking to your passenger. And sometimes, if that passenger is perhaps a boyfriend, you have the added distraction of someone trying to tickle you. Which is funny because it’s very possible that he’s the same person who bitches about your driving. But that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, so you have to juggle a lot of stimuli and make split second decisions that could also be life or death.

For example, if a kid or dog runs out into the road you brake/swerve/honk, you know, whatever you need to do. If you’re waiting to turn onto a street and a car is coming towards you with it’s blinker on you have to decide whether to trust this person and pull out in front of them or assume they’re old and have been driving for 8 days with that blinker on and have no intention of turning before running right into you. Or, is that car ahead of you trying to change lanes really slowly or just too drunk/distracted to pay attention? And you’ll never know because they are also too lazy to use a turn signal.

(on a side note, i think that people tend to forget to use their turn signal so much when they are younger that they feel the need to make up for it when they are old by just leaving it on all the time)

It’s these sorts of decisions that set the good drivers apart from the bad ones. And for the most part, I do OK with these. It seems like the more random and unexpected the situation, the better I can deal with it. What is funny is that the one thing on the roads that happens all the time, and which I can pretty much count on happening every time I get in the car is the one situation I just can’t seem to master. It’s called “Yellow Light” and it is my kryptonite. (And that wasn’t supposed to rhyme.)

Yellow light has a way of crippling me with fear and indecision. This illustration demonstrates pretty much what happens:

 

Because, unlike when a kid or dog or other car suddenly does something stupid and I’m forced to act quickly, the yellow light is dangerous because it usually gives me just enough time to have options.

 Option #1: Speed up and hope to make it through before light turns red and a cop suddenly appears out of nowhere to arrest me for reckless driving,  or perhaps get T-boned by some huge pickup truck who’s really eager to get through the intersection.

 Option #2: Slam on brakes and hope to stop before I reach the intersection which, because I slowed down rather than speeding up will have turned red before I get there, but i’m not sure if I’ll have enough time to stop and might get T-boned by the huge pickup truck who’s already halfway through the intersection.

 Option #3: Continue along at current pace out of shear indecisiveness and look like a complete idiot, but am actually so happy I didn’t get T-boned by that huge pickup truck that I’m just glad to be alive.

 See? None of them are good options. And there’s just not a clear winner here. So, it’s sort of like when you’re taking a multiple choice test and all the choices sound right (because you didn’t study, and/or your teacher’s a dick). So you choose B or C. Because A is too obvious, and the teacher wants you to read all the options before deciding because he threw a trick in there somewhere. B and C are all inconspicuous and therefor probably right, and D can’t be the answer because it’s last and therefor like A but opposite. But wait…I only have 3 choices. So I guess it has to be B, since C has now taken the place of D and………well yeah. By then i’m DEAD.

 So now everyone in the car thinks I’m a bad, inattentive driver who wasn’t paying attention because I just slammed on my brakes and almost killed us all. Except I wasn’t because that damn yellow light played a trick on me. It waited until the last possible moment, when it knew I would be forced to choose. Like some cruel Nazi joke. (I don’t know why I wrote that).

 -Girl Normal

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