Friday, December 28, 2007

Holiday drivers

The driving on San Diego freeways and surface streets is appalling right now. It's never good, but this week it's as bad as I've seen. Several times tonight, and last night and the night before, I've had at least three near crashes caused by total incompetence.

Why is this? I know a lot of people are off of work this week. I never worked the last week of the year when I had a real job (read: had paid days off). Are these the weekend warriors? The people who normally don't drive much, or the out-of-towners? Traffic is light, but it's dangerous.

It's also slow, even though it's light. So many cars I see are driving half the posted speed limit. This should be a jailable offense. Thirty days for upsetting the thirty drivers stacked up behind you while you amble along in total oblivion. That's fair. One day behind bars for each person your existence has infuriated. Not you. You know what I mean. Them. Half the posted limit? That's sadism, isn't it?

Two bad ones tonight, which combined slow and dangerous, were Pennsylvania drivers. Each car tried to change lanes directly into my GIGANTIC, BRIGHT FUCKING YELLOW car, and I had to swerve and honk to avoid a major accident. Each car had a PA plate. Two incidents amounts to statistical insignificance, but I'm starting to form a hunch about Pennsylvania drivers. I'll give them plenty of room from now on. I'll be watchful for the "This ain't nothin' like Philly" blank stare. No offense to Philadelphians, but the drivers you've been sending out here are worse than native Californians, and that is not a compliment. Out here the bottle blondes snap their gum, chat on the cell phone, and somehow forget there are other people in the world.

A non-PA driver did what I think is the worst thing a driver can do. It has probably happened ten times so far this year, and it's harrowing every time. I'm following a guy on a surface street, with plenty of space between us. Speed limit is 25mph. Traffic is medium. He's going 15-18mph: anger level 5 out of 10. Head of driver is not swiveling back and forth (he doesn't appear lost or looking for an address). He pulls over to the curb. I speed up, as the driving lane is now clear. Just as I mash the gas, the guy pulls a U-turn right in front of me. I thank the ABS god as I come to a stop about six inches from his door. Who makes a U-ee without looking? Anger level is 10 out of 10 -- and I can't do or say anything or the guy will call the number on the side of the car and complain, and the company owner follows up on complaints.

I would truly love to have a switch on the dash that would, upon flipping, make the phone number and cab company name on the side of my car disappear for a minute or two. I'm going to grow a few extra middle fingers the day I get a button like that. The only positive thing was that the guy's eyes were the size of dinner plates when he realized I was going to T-bone him at 25mph. A 3750-lb car was going to smash into the driver door, with him sitting just on the other side. Fortunately, we didn't collide. He looked to be about 30 years old. It's a wonder he has survived to that age.

Now before you say, "This Ted Martin is a raving lunatic. Why doesn't he just relax a bit?" My insurance deductible is $1000. Crashing my car means a probable loss of two days wages, which, on average is...well...more than I can be without. Even if it's not my fault, the cab company owner usually does two things when he loses a car, even temporarily. No. 1, the driver gets a passive aggressive, demeaning treatment at the office. There's often a condescending speech about "How could we have possibly avoided this one?" No. 2, drivers involved in crashes generally get the worst car in the fleet, sometimes for the next year. It's godawful. The owner can be very petty about a crash, regardless of who's at fault, and I don't blame him. He loses so many cars, and has so many legal and insurance battles with the parties involved (it's actually a constant), that's he's tired of it. Rightfully so. On the other hand, the driver who will eventually smash me (it happened to me two years ago), files an insurance claim, gets a loaner car paid for by insurance, hires a lawyer who expertly makes his client's idiocy seem like a figment of my imagination, and goes about his merry life.

I can't wait for the true commuters to come back onto the streets and the holiday traffic to disappear from whence it came. Traffic is heavier with the regulars around, but a lower percentage of them try to take my life and livelihood.

Man, it's great to have a blog for venting. Now that it's all out of my system...

Countdown to cash

Only a couple of days until New Year's eve, our biggest single money maker of the year. Drivers are giddy about it. A lot of people are counting on that night to make their entire January 1 rent payment after a dismal December. I know my landlord is counting on me having a good New Year's eve, though he doesn't know it.

1 comment:

Brent McD. said...

be careful out there. and good luck with the new years fares!