Behind The Wheel

2/22/13
Driving is a privilege, right? I remember those words from my Drivers Ed class back in high school and even though I did not pay much attention to what that meant, exactly, I still remember those words. I am made fun of for my driving and speed. I have no speed in me. If the signs on the road say 45, I go 45! On the freeway (which is rare for me) if the speed limit is 65, guess what? I drive 65. But let me tell you, there are so many reckless citizens on the roads that it makes me wonder HOW they haven’t had their licenses stripped away – or their lives. (Well, multitudes of people do lose their lives each year here in Vegas in collisions or pedestrian fatalities). Las Vegas is not the only place with crazy-ass drivers but if we were in a contest with other states……. we’d rank right up there at the top.

When I see a person standing on the median on a 6 lane thoroughfare, What flashes through my mind is “Walk your lazy ass 200 feet to the crosswalk you lunatic!” Cars zip by at 45 mph (well me anyway) but most of the speedsters around town go 50 or more. All they have to do is swerve a couple inches and BOOM! Road kill. Not only do teens pull this malarkey, but I have seen ‘old’ codgers doing it….. while hauling a grocery bag or two. (Lake Mead and Rampart is notorious for this death defying action). Or women carrying a toddler while teetering on the median. What is wrong with them? Are they in that much of a hurry to get to Big Lots?

I can’t just blame the ‘total disregard for the law’ on the elderly, but believe you me….. these folks are an annoyance in their own right. I live a hop, skip and a jump away from a massive Del Webb community that is home to over 7700 (yes, seven thousand seventy- seven) homes in a senior development. If we are clipping along Rampart Blvd. and nearly hit the brakes approaching Del Webb Drive (a half mile back) we KNOW that the cars who are dilly-dallying ahead of us will be turning into ‘senior-ville’. The posted speed limit is 45 mph…. and these old timers are barely pedaling along. I bet if I had Jenni out there, she could walk faster than they drive. (It takes a half mile to slow down? C’mon people)! I have been behind some vehicles that I would swear have NO driver! The little old female drivers can’t be much taller than Jenni (who is 4’9) and can barely see over the dashboard. When I have safely changed lanes to escape these elderly pixies, I am amazed that they can even make it out of bed each morning, let alone hop into a car, seat belt up and hit the road. Me saying that they are “Long in the Tooth” is putting it kindly.

Parking lots have become a scary place to be in. I’ve seen young drivers, old drivers, and just complete boorish individuals whip into and out of parking stalls without any regard for an innocent passerby. I always wonder ‘What is the hurry?” Like ‘Wal Mart’ is going to shut down in 5 minutes (when it’s open 24 hours a day). If their impatience is any indication of the speed at which they tear up and down the parking aisles, having them throw the car in reverse and back out of a space can be just as terrifying. I was nicked- my hip- one time and the guy just kept barrelling back– never glancing at me (and I tapped on his trunk with no response).

Not a lot of people feel need the for turn signals either around town. (I do). People, it’s not much of an exertion to just do a flick of the wrist to signal left or right! Or the guy who makes a lane change when you are in the lane this impatient buffoon decides to swing into. I love it when I get passed on the right- going the speed limit- when I am in the far right lane (these inconsiderate drivers veer off into the bike lane or shoulder). Did they seriously just do that?

Then there are the tailgaters- and I am not referring to the UNLV crowd at a Rebel’s football game. The roads are 2 and 3 lanes around here, but for some reason, there is a population of miscreants that feel the need to drive as close to your back-end as possible. When I can see their face in my rear-view (and my vision isn’t all that spectacular on a good day of late) and not their car’s front end, I’ll switch lanes immediately.

AND God forbid you are a pedestrian. If you are attempting to cross at a marked crosswalk, you’d better be aware of the car who is going to make a right turn. I assume most of the drivers here are California transplants (like myself) because most drivers do the ‘California Roll’ at corners. (That’s a known term here use by Metro and others). Red Light? No need to stop, just ROLL through it, no one is going to notice. Ha, I notice. Every Time I go out and drive somewhere!

I have had people honk at me, after my signaling when I slow down at a traffic light, to make a right turn. Kimmi gets amused at the colorful words that somehow seem to seep through my lips! For someone who doesn’t really curse, when I am driving, some expletives just seem to escape my mouth and I can’t control it! She’ll smile and say “You should hear yourself.” (This is one of the areas where I have NO patience. With reckless imbeciles, NO! With Jenni, yes).

And never, ever , when stopped at a red light waiting to make a left turn (or heck, for that matter, traveling straight across the cross street) pull out as soon as the light turns GREEN! You are just a heartbeat away from making the Review-Journal’s Obituary page. Red light runners feel they own the road no matter what part of Las Vegas you are traveling in. A couple of summer’s ago, my friend Debbie was visiting from California and we had left Nicole’s house and were heading back to my house. We had just passed a couple of large casino resort areas where the is traffic and we were the first car to stop at a red light. I was in the fast lane and a beat up compact car pulled up next to me. We sat for about 45 seconds and then the fruit-bat next to us decides he’s waited enough, and just drives on through the red light, on his merry way. (I have an idea why his car looked like it was just towed from a figure 8 race at the speedway)! We laughed and looked at each other and said “What was that all about?” Waiting another 45 seconds would alter his schedule? Sheesh!

Now this one is creepy! At the end of summer last year, Kimmi and I were heading home one morning from the gym. I’m leisurely cruising along, heading home on Durango Drive, thinking of getting into the shower and cooling off. There were a couple vehicles way ahead of me and in my rear-view I could see a couple of cars a good distance back. I glanced up and see this behemoth, black monstrosity barreling closer behind me. I was doing my ’45 mph’ and I was in the slow lane so I was NOT going to move. No one was to my left….. let this speed demon go around. All of a sudden I glanced again in my rear-view mirror and I thought I was in a scene straight out of ’Jeepers Creepers!’ This faded black, strange looking vehicle with blacked out windows and I swear no bumpers or headlights anywhere -was almost in my backseat. Was this some ancient immortal demon from that movie who was ripping along the road in my neighborhood? I told Kimmi I was freaked out but she had NO clue what my near hysteria was all about (she never saw the movie). This tailgating machine passed me and pulled ahead of me, now he’s doing the 45 mph speed limit. He kept revving the engine and I was sure some dead bodies were about to fly out the back of the truck (or SUV) or what ever the heck this thing was. It looked like nothing I have seen, but then it could have been the way it was painted: oxidized, faded matte black, the engine revving, blacked out windows and it was raised so high off the ground, it was extremely daunting to look at! Creep Factor written all over it! Since that day last summer, I have seen this ‘Jeepers Creepers’ vehicle (which I refer to now when I see it) a handful of times on Durango Drive, so I assume this person lives around here or just haunts the roadway speeding up on people, then cutting in front of them to slow down. If I had ran into him in the dark, instead of broad daylight, I probably would have had a stroke and definitely would need to grab some Depends!

I remember one of the first times I was making a left turn at an intersection with NO turn arrow. I was 16, a little unsure of my driving capabilities and I didn’t really pull out into the intersection. I sat there in the lane, waiting for the oncoming traffic to let up. I had no idea that a sheriff’s vehicle was behind me until he used his PA and told me ” you CAN pull out into the intersection.” I did and was mortified. Now all these years later, I see people basically doing the opposite of what I did. I have been at lights, waiting to make a left and have seen cars ahead of me CUT right out in front of the oncoming traffic to hang a left. Some people must get out of bed in the mornings and just have a guardian angel or a lucky charm or something that is their saving grace. Or maybe it’s that they have their head so far up their backside, they don’t even notice what they are doing.

Eventually, stupidity will catch up with them! Or the grim reaper!

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