I drive my five children to and from 4 different schools, and a part-time job. My day is usually defined by who I drive when, and where.
Other than an occasional tailgating habit rearing its ugly head (oops!), or a once-in-a-while accidental cut-off (sorry, Sir!), I'm a model driving citizen. I've been pulled over three times in my 28 years of driving, but not once have I been given a ticket. At this point in my life, I'm finding myself compulsively following traffic laws...no need to break my own record now, especially when cities are seeing the benefit of increased revenue by upping ticket fees.
Adam goes to a year-round charter school 2 cities away, two days a week. Taking surface streets is the better way to go, since the street that his school is on is on a street that is only a half-block from our house. So I go the half-block and head west. It usually takes just under 10 minutes to get there, but on the way, something happens that is inexplicable. Curious. Baffling. Infuriating, even. We leave what is normal about 2 blocks en route, somehow, and enter into a place we call, "The Vortex." I'm going to try to explain.
The speed limit is 45 miles per hour. We have 2 lanes to travel...perfect, so that if you get behind someone slow, all you have to do is get in the other lane and pass them, right? Wrong.
We know we're not in Kansas anymore when we get behind someone going 35 in the aforementioned 45. Really?! So I merge onto the other lane with hopes of passing, only to be met by yet another motorist driving at 35 mph, a half car length ahead of the original car I was trying to pass, making my passing attempts impossible. I have to choose, at this point, which car driving 10 miles below the speed limit I want to follow.
In The Vortex, this is normal. Everyone drives slowly. Cautiously to the point of being dangerous, even. Doing things like stopping. Not at a light, not at a stop sign, not for a pedestrian or jay walker. Just stopping. No reason. Maybe to regroup? Re-think their route? Nobody knows. They just stop.
It's also the things we see when we travel The Vortex. Unusual things. Well, just take a look:
By the way, I waited to snap this picture until we were stopped at this intersection. After I picked up the lower half of my jaw. Just a normal day in The Vortex.
But while I'm on the subject of frustrations while driving, I'm going to take this opportunity to address something that drives me absolutely nutty, no matter where I am. Turn signals. They're a handy tool when used properly. We engage the turn signal before we decide we want to turn...not just as we're turning. Turning it on while we're turning is pointless. It's a communication tool to let our fellow drivers know of our intent to turn. Intent. Before we turn. Like, when I'm in a shopping center waiting to pull out onto the street, and I'm waiting for you to drive by. And then, just as you get to the entrance, you turn in. Your turn signal light starts flashing as you turn in. You saw me sitting there waiting for you so that I could pull out! If you engaged your turn signal sooner, I would have known I wasn't in danger of you smacking the side of my car, and I would have pulled out, rather than wait for you to drive past me.
This thing makes me crazy, no matter where I am...this lack of driver-communication sees itself in the Vortex too, but everywhere as well, unfortunately. One day, I'm going to take out an ad somewhere, or have my turn-signal-manifesto detailed on a bill board. Word needs to get out, right?
I'm really an otherwise very nice citizen. :)
The Vortex, however, has me by the throat. And I mentioned that Adam goes to his school two times a week, didn't I? And that his school is year round? Meaning I'm in The Vortex often? Is God testing my patience? Perhaps.
Admittedly, frustration wouldn't mount if I wasn't always late, getting Adam to school. Going 35 miles an hour in a 45 mile per hour zone isn't so bad when you have the time for it. It can be relaxing, even, I bet. Especially when we'd have such strange sights to take in. Like guys pedaling a three-wheeled bed. I might have enjoyed that one more, if I wasn't late that day.
California drivers. I suppose we're known for our impatience, aren't we. Our impatience, and our annoying habits. California stops. At least I don't pack heat, and neither has anyone in The Vortex. They're too slow. They'd never be quick enough on the draw.