As I have not written an interesting post in almost a year I thought it was about time I sat down and typed out my experiences over the past year here in San Francisco.
Unfortunately, after a nice dinner and watching the first DVD of James Clavell’s Shogun, the time is now 10:00pm and I no longer have the urge to write the memoirs of my introductory year here in S.F.
I do, on the other hand, feel like writing about how bad Californian drivers are. They are not “bad” in the sense that they lack driving skill perse except for the semi-truck drivers who insist on flipping their loads on the main artery 101 on a bi-weekly basis. My theory is that after driving cross country and almost reaching their destination they cannot stay awake anymore. In one year in California, I’ve seen more semi-truck accidents than I have in driving 24 years in the great state of Ohio. Hell, one truck blew up part of the MacArthur Maze in my one year living here.
They are “bad” however in the sense that they all, and by “all” I mean 98% of them drive angrily. It must be some sort of Californian tribal instinct or perhaps biological phenomenon which causes otherwise decent people to turn so aggressive when behind the wheel. Let me offer a few examples to drive the point home:
1. Every single California driver believes the road is for their private use and should any other driver infringe on this God given right they better damn well stay out of their way, or not inconvenience them in the slightest bit. They act as spoiled children do and to date, I have counted 1,239 frowns, middle fingers, gun signs (made with fingers) bad words, and other un-pleasantries and only 3-4 kind acts such as letting someone into the lane.
Example: A middle aged soccer mom in her SUV was driving in front of me on the freeway. A car in the left lane decided to change lanes in front of this SUV which made this woman tap her breaks only so slightly. So in accordance with Californian instinct, she had to recklessly pull up alongside this driver and give him a very nasty look.
The reason (If your not Californian) is that the woman was slightly inconvenienced by having to tap her breaks and in California inconveniencing these Yuppies is punishable by death.
Yet, the lord said “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and boy, Californians take this to heart. No sooner than she gave one guy a nasty look, she tried to change lanes but did not see the Mercedes in her left blind spot. The Mercedes laid on it’s horn and the driver pulled up right beside her and gave her a very nasty look…….. and so it goes on in a never ending cycle on the freeways of California.
Example #2: A stoplight has just turned red and a taxi decides to change lanes into the one lane that has no cars waiting for the light. He does this 4 seconds before another car arrives whom I suppose wanted to be first in line due to their incessant honking, middle fingering and gun sign making. I think the fine ladies making these gestures actually belonged to a gang given their talent at color matching, but I could not be sure and did not want to interrupt their finger twisting party to find out.
Example #3: I’m driving on a 45mph road and slow down only slightly going through an intersection. Now being in California I knew this would drive the guy behind me berserk so I immediately looked in my rear view to watch the fun. Much to my amusement he made the “boy this guys an idiot” gesture and pounded his steering wheel.
If it wasn’t so dangerous out here break checking Californians could be an entertaining sport. You just break check them once and they go straight to boiling mad, will slam on the gas to pull up next to you and spew forth a litany of profanities. Then if one of your buddies was already in position in front of their car, you could break check them again and watch their heads explode.
But to bring this diatribe to a point, people here in the USA cannot understand why I love S.E. Asia so much. Let us use the example of driving. In Vietnam, you can have a damn near fatal wreck and so long as the injuries aren’t too serious the colliding parties will simply get up and drive off with usually only a stern look at the other. Sometimes there are fights but not usually and everything quickly returns tranquil.
However, here in California, when you get behind the wheel, you must stay angry for the entire journey, drive as though the road was built only for you and for God’s sakes, do not let the speedometer go below 80mph. That last bit really threw me on the driving test.
Question: If the speed limit is 65mph and the traffic is leveling at 72mph, how fast should you go?
Honest to God I thought the answer was 75mph given what I had seen in my first year here. And to get extra bonus points, I also wanted to write in “and flick off those f*ckers going 65!”
And those driving a luxury car will be the worst! There are spoiled people all over the USA but I have never met so many childish adults as I have in California. Most are decent people, but not the ones in the Luxury cars driving in Silicon Valley. The bald white guys in the hot convertible cars are especially fussy.