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November 5th, 2009


When you’re in your car, changing lanes, what’s worse than being denied access to your desired lane by a rude person who is pretending to ignore you? You know what I’m talking about. Imagine you’re driving in the right lane, and you need to get into the left lane to make a turn that’s coming up. You have your blinker on, you’re maintaining a reasonable speed, and you’re checking your mirrors. How long does it take for you to find a driver in the left lane who is willing to let you in? Usually, it’s too long.

According to the California Driver’s Handbook, you’re really not supposed to expect the other driver to give you the right-of-way. But it seems like the blinker is a signal for any driver, no matter how far behind you he may be, to speed up and avoid letting you in. And, in an attempt to make it seem okay, the offending driver usually stares straight ahead, like you don’t even exist. “Oh, I’m sorry, Reasonable Driver,” they are saying.”I didn’t see you there with your blinker on, checking your blind spot. I just suddenly felt the need to speed up.” I may be overreacting, but I’ve long thought, short of purposely running over a toddler, it’s the worst driving behavior there is.

Today, though, I had things put into perspective for me by a little old man who looked like a walnut shell. He was in the left lane, the lane I needed to get into, driving what I can only assume is the Lincoln Tugboat, given its size, and the amount of smoke it was belching. In front of the Tugboat, and a couple of car lengths behind me, was a silver sedan, which sped up at the first sign of my turn signal. I silently cursed the driver and her family, and went about the business of getting in front of the Tugboat. This didn’t seem like it would be too difficult, as it was traveling at the remarkable speed of 7 miles an hour. As I looked in my mirror, however I noticed the Walnut Man shaking his head, and mouthing the word “no.” At first I thought he was singing that Amy Winehouse tune, but then he honked at me. “No,” he mouthed again, shaking his fist. I was too confused to do anything as he slowly gathered speed and barreled past me. What happened after that is kind of foggy, although I do remember arriving in the left lane and looking around sheepishly at the other drivers to make sure they hadn’t seen me get totally served.

Trying to remain positive, I choose to look at it this way: I may have been put in my place by man driving an ocean vessel 23 miles under the speed limit, but at least I got an answer to my question- What’s worse than being denied access to your desired lane by a rude person who is pretending to ignore you? Being bullied out of it.

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