Boy, it has been a while

I do apologize for disappearing. Life has a way of making things disappear. Like my tolerance for traffic! But today on my ways to and from work, I attempted a new strategy — chilling the fuck out.

Normally I like to get to where I’m going at the fastest speed possible because, well, fast is fun. It’s not that I’m running late all the time, I just like to drive quickly all the time. But in the desperate need to break speed limit laws, I tend to get stuck falling down an endless pit of anger, frustration, profanity, hatred (and of course, despair). It’s probably bad for my overall well-being that I get trapped in a cycle of questioning the meaning of life every time I venture onto the roads. Thus, I attempted to chill the fuck out… and you know what… it actually worked. I’d be stuck in a line of people at a light, and where I would have angrily cut into the other lane to pass them all, I would just say to myself “that’s fine, no need to be anywhere this very second.” To my own amazement it worked, and my commute went relatively pain-free today.

So, I’ve decided to return to my blog with suggestions on how to remain calm in the face of terrifying, terrible, treacherous, and torpid traffic.

1.) Listen to music. It’s a lot nicer to sit at a light or be stuck behind a giant line of people for whatever reason when a good song is playing. Whether it’s music you bring yourself or something’s that playing on the radio, turn that shit up and calm the fuck down. Sing along if you want. Dance in your car if you want. Whatever takes you to a happy place, get on it.

2.) Affirmations. Just repeat to yourself “There is no reason I need to be at my destination this very minute” or “calm down, you’ll get to your destination eventually” or “this isn’t the Oregon Trail, you don’t have to rest for three days until conditions improve.” Of course, this only works if you’re legitimately not running late for anything. If you are running late for something incredibly important, then you’re s.o.l.

3.) Take in the sights. You’re probably not looking around much on your daily commute, so take those times when you’re stuck in traffic to look around you. You might find some cool things, like a pretty tree you never noticed before or a hole-in-the-wall shop that you might want to check out some time. Granted, not all commutes are pretty, but do your best.

4.) Meditate. If you’re into that kind of thing. Just don’t close your eyes for too long…

5.) Think about stuff. Happy or productive stuff, though. Things like what groceries you need to get, ideas for a project at work or school, clever ways to ask out that guy or girl you’ve been eyeing for a while, what to have to dinner, and where you’d want to go for vacation. Avoid things like how your life is being wasted away sitting in traffic or how you could have avoided being stuck behind that accident had you taken a different route home after work.

Try some of these techniques while out on the road… maybe it’ll make your drive a little less stressful.

Also, now that’s nice out, I need to try and not swear aloud so much while I drive because people might hear me when I have the windows down.

Also also:

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How to turn on the turn signal

Since it appears that a vast majority of drivers fail to use their turn signals, I figured I would take this time to help those drivers find the mechanism which turns the turn signal on and off.

The turn signal indicator stalk is always, and I mean ALWAYS, on the left side of the steering column, just behind the steering wheel.  This even holds true in right-hand drive cars! If you have more than one stick protruding from your steering column, the one that turns on your signal often has the controls for the windshield wiper on it as well. Just in case you are having difficulty locating the lever in your car, refer to the following pictures:

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How to use this excellent piece of engineering genius is very simple.  If you wish to go to the right, you simply push the stick upwards.  If you wish to go to the left, you simply push the stick downwards.  If you are having a hard time remembering which is which, just think of this neat little trick:  If you hold a finger out and turn the wheel to the right, your finger will hit the turn signal indicator from underneath, pushing it upwards.  Likewise, if you hold a finger out and turn the wheel to the left, your finger will hit the turn signal indicator from above, pushing it downwards.  You don’t even have to move it very far!  You only need to push the stalk up maybe an inch (possibly 2 at the most), which isn’t much trouble at all.

Turning off your signal, which is just as important, is done by returning the stalk to its original position.  Most cars automatically turn off the signal when you return the wheel to “straight” if you move the wheel far enough in the direction you have indicated you will turn.  However, when changing lanes, the signal does not automatically turn off, so it is your responsibility to return the stalk to where it started.

Lastly, the turn signal indicator is not very far away from your hands if you drive with a “9 and 3” hand position.  It is also not very far away in a “10 and 2” or an “8 and 4” hand position.  And, really, it’s not very difficult to reach even if you’re one of those idiots that drives with your wrist at the 12:00 position.  While the actual distance between the wheel and the far end of the turn signal indicator varies by make and model, it is usually within a finger’s length of the steering wheel (see below) so that you can keep your hand on the steering wheel at all times.

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If you are still having problems figuring out how to turn on your signals, go out to your car and play around until you have figured it out.  And once you know how to turn on your signals, APPLY THIS KNOWLEDGE IN REAL LIFE!

Make sure you look before backing up. Anywhere. Anytime.

So, yesterday I went to Einstein Bagels, looking to indulge in a delicious breakfast sandwich.  I was behind this god awful Camry with chrome 22’s and super low profile tires.  As we were moseying through the parking lot, the woman driving the Camry decided she wanted a parking space that happened to be behind her–where I was.  So, the woman proceeded to back up.  Quickly.  I honked my horn.  She did not brake.  I slammed the horn, for about 5 to 6 seconds, and about 6″ away from my car, she finally realized I was there and stopped.  How one doesn’t stop immediately at the sound of a car horn so close him/her is beyond me.  But the lesson learned from this is do not back up without looking behind you!  Better yet, don’t back up in areas where this can cause an accident, e.g., at a stop light.  If you’re too far out in the intersection, that’s just too damn bad.

This really should be common sense…

Here’s an idea

There should be a national mandate that the written driver’s test in every state must contain questions regarding vehicle maintenance.  Vehicle maintenance questions should comprise 15-20% of the test questions.  Part of road safety is driving a safe vehicle.  If someone has no idea how to tell if they need to change their brake pads, he or she may have significantly decreased their stopping power and therefore produced a much longer stopping distance for their car. This is obviously a danger to all the other drivers on the road.  If everyone had to know this kind of information in order to get their licenses, the dangers that unkempt cars cause could be greatly reduced (these dangers will be discussed in a future post).

Is it a turn lane?

The shoulder/bike lane is not a turn lane.  You can actually be ticketed for driving in a bike lane and/or on the shoulder.  Turn lanes are almost always signaled by a dashed line and often labeled with arrows painted on the pavement.  This may be one of those “patience is a virtue” situations. Don’t just go driving down the side of the road because you need to make a right turn but there are a lot of people in the way. Just chill. You’ll get there eventually.

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Importance of Proper Lane Assignments

So, I’ve already written a post on proper lane assignments, but while I was on my way to a meeting the other day, I realized that I never quite discussed why anyone should care about driving in the correct lane.  Consequently, I shall attempt to explain the rationale behind the idea of “lanes”.

Why have multiple lanes in the first place?  So that traffic can move as efficiently as possible.  If you’ve ever driven on rural highways, where it’s one lane each direction, you know how bad it is to get stuck behind a semi with too much oncoming traffic to pass them.  Passing lanes are supposed to prevent the roadway from becoming clogged and allow people to reach their destinations without too much hang-up.

People, apparently, do not understand this and feel that they are entitled to drive in whatever fucking lane they so choose.  This lane is often the left lane, which creates a bit of a issue on the roadway.  You have people driving slowly in the right lane–as they should be–and people driving slowly in the left lane just because they feel like they belong in that lane.  No one is able to pass these two cars, and a giant queue starts to form, with many drivers becoming angry and impatient at the asshole in the left lane who really shouldn’t be there and is holding up traffic.  This slow poke in the left lane represents plaque in your arteries.  Clogging shit up and making it difficult for the system to work.  If the clog remains for an extended period of time, then frustrated drivers start trying stupid shit to get around the slow cars.  These things range from tailgating to passing on the shoulder.  And you can end up  with a cardiac arrest of the roadway, so to speak.

Is it really that difficult to just hang-out in the right lane?  No.  If you stay in the right lane, you are less likely to be tailgated because the person behind you can just pass you, and you are less likely to be the target of road rage because you are staying out of people’s way and being courteous to the faster drivers.

By staying in the correct lane, not only are you getting to your destination in a happier place, all the other drivers traveling with you are also able to reach their destination without wanting to attach a bazooka to their vehicle.  As I’ve said before–driving is a group activity.  You have to think of others and take their actions and needs into consideration as well as your own….

But the more I think about the sentiment, the more I wonder if people just aren’t capable of that.