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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Slow vehicle turnouts

On a joyous, though unfortunately slow, drive through some mountains yesterday, my significant other and I came across a bunch of ass holes who, for reasons unknown, refused to use the slow vehicle turnouts kindly provided for them.

Why?  Why will people not use slow vehicle turnouts when they are clearly the slow vehicle causing a blockage of over 10 cars behind them, putsing along going 35 mph in a 40 mph zone?  WHYYYYYY?????!?!?!?!?!?!?!  Several posted signs say that slow traffic MUST use turnouts.  It really should be illegal to cause a blockage of over 5 cars on any given road.

Alas, today’s lesson is going to be about using slow vehicle turnouts (and the shoulder of a road if turnouts are not provided):

Part I.  The slow vehicle turnout

On many two-lane mountain passes, slow vehicle turnout areas are provided.  The purpose of the these areas is to allow slower moving traffic (the intended targets were/are probably trucks and larger vehicles) to get out of the way of faster traffic behind them.  This allows everyone to reach their destination safely and with their sanity still intact.

But, for some reason, painfully obviously slow drivers refuse to use these ingenious features.  It’s not as if they don’t know one is coming–there are signs alerting drivers to the presence of turnout areas many many yards in advance (plus it’s not like these people are really driving too fast to miss them).  Yet even with someone driving very close behind them, flashing the high beams a couple of times, and swerving behind them, these idiots we were driving behind (I wasn’t driving, by the way) would not pull into any one of the four turnouts we passed.  Eventually the driver I was with that day pulled a bit of an illegal maneuver and we got around the person in front of us.  But all this could have easily been avoided, like everything else,  if people would stop being such dicks.

If it is clear, or even slightly hinted at, that the person behind you wants to pass you and turnouts are provided, please use them.  This really should not hurt your ego and doesn’t mean you “lost” some mental battle you’re having with the driver behind you (both which I’m assuming are the main causes for driver dickness).

Signal about 500-1000 feet before the turnout to tell the person behind you that you do have a soul and will be out of their way as soon as you can.  Move into the turnout, look behind you to see if there are any other vehicles coming, then move back onto the road when it is safe and continue on your journey stress-free.

To the drivers behind the slow-movers:  As I always say, try your best not to tailgate or be overly rude.  Also, try not to cross a double-yellow line to pass someone…  not a good idea and is illegal.  But, I’m just going to leave that at try not to do it.

Part II.  Using the shoulder

Basically, this one applies to every other two lane road in the US.  These roads don’t say anything about slow traffic pulling over (though they’ll often have a sign that says “do not pass”).  Given there is an appropriately sized shoulder, there is, in essence, a turnout area everywhere.  If someone is following too closely behind you or if you are simply sightseeing and are driving slower than usual, you can always just signal, pull over onto the shoulder, allow the driver behind you to pass, and continue on your way when the coast is clear.  Way too many people forget this or refuse to do it.  As I said in the post about speed a couple of weeks ago, it is not your job to regulate the speed of people driving behind you.  Do not think “I am already driving fast enough.   You can just hold your horses, mister.”… or whatever version of that you actually say to yourself in those situations.  Pull over, let them pass, and everyone will have a much happier driving experience.

The same note for the faster driver seen in Part I applies here as well.

You could also wait for passing segments on the road you are driving on or passing lanes that may appear at some point.  Only pass when it is safe and when it is legal *cough*.

To be perfectly honest, this really is the fault of the slower driver if they refuse to take the opportunity to allow those behind them to pass.  It’s creating a volatile atmosphere on the road which rarely ends well.  You slow people know who you are and you carry the responsibility to drive slowly safely, just as those of us who drive quickly carry the responsibility of speeding safely.