Saturday, July 19, 2008

Driving ...

This is my last gripe – I promise – but a story about driving home wouldn’t be complete without a few words on driving. Let me be clear: I avoid the Autobahn. The Germans have perfected a system where the craziest drivers on the road are free to risk their lives and yours by all but eliminating the speed limit on sections of major highways. The twist in the German scheme is that almost everyone follows the local rules of the road. If you ride in the left lane, you will eventually have to move aside to let a faster car pass you – on the left. If you ride in the right lane you are fairly safe in assuming that you will be left alone to plod along with the trucks.

Driving on America highways isn’t that dissimilar from driving on a German Autobahn with the exception that that rules of the road have been thrown out the window. I have a suspicion that a group of Italian road warriors has secretly infiltrated the driving schools of America. Riding your neighbor’s rear at high speeds when there is absolutely no place to go because a tractor-trailer has decided to occupy the passing lane, was standard procedure. Drivers seemed possessed with the desire to push each other off the roadway. Now at this point you could say that the experience sounds a lot like the Autobahn. The difference is, that when there was no chance of moving out of the way these drivers persisted in extremely dangerous maneuvers, swinging in and out of lanes pushing for a hole to sprint through, riding dangerously close to the driver in front of them, rarely using turn signals and seeming to have no regard for their safety or yours.

If I had happened once or twice or even three or four times I might have passed it off as aberrant behavior, but it was relentless. When they finally managed to get by, these loco drivers would speed up to the next car and do the same thing. They rarely made much progress and maybe progress wasn’t the point, maybe they just had to do it, had to bully their way through the traffic. I don’t know but I was relieved when we made it home in one piece.