October 13, 2008

on being a defensive driver...

I'm not a bad driver, per se. I've never been in an accident, never had a fender-bender, never gotten a ticket. (I was close to getting a speeding ticket once, but I got off with only a warning - probably because the man who pulled me over was a friend of my dad's and had literally helped refinish our basement a couple years before - oh, and I was dressed like I was Amish. Long story. Don't ask.) I think my problem comes from my being too anxious. For instance, when I get lost (note: I didn't say "if", I said "when"), I freak out. My heart races, I chew my fingernails down to the nubbins, I envision how I will somehow be murdered within the next the next five minutes because I do not recognize anything or anyone around me, and of course that means imminent death.

I must admit, I've gotten better. It just took a good, oh, four years living in Southern California to help me be a wee bit more comfortable on the freeways and the fact that I will drive through seventeen cities before reaching my destination, which is most likely only twenty minutes away. (And that fact still weirds me out, by the way. Sometimes I just want to go back to the city I grew up in, where you can find anything as long as you could reach Division. The one street that went alll the waaaayy through it. Pretty convenient, if you ask me.)

I still can't get over the rudeness of the drivers here, though. I can count on one hand the number of times I've used my horn. I usually feel too bad to use it. It makes me nervous. Maybe because I think everyone is like me. I'm the person who hears someone honk, and automatically thinks, "Sweet mother! Who? Where? WHAT DID I DO WRONG?" I don't know why I always assume people are honking at me, but I do. Call me narcissistic. Or paranoid. Or awesome. (It's kind of like how whenever I smell some weird smell while driving, I assume it's my car, and that it's on fire or something. I have to do this quick check of my entire car to see if I've been driving with my parking brake on, or if I see any smoke coming out of my hood, or if I have any "check engine" lights glaring at me. I don't know why I do these things. But I do.)

Yesterday, I was honked at, and it completely upset the rest of my drive. I take things entirely too personally; it's official. To me, if you honk at me, it's like a personal attack. I want to stick my head out the window and scream, "I AM A NICE PERSON! DON'T JUDGE ME!"

I was driving home from a visit with my married friend. (She is my one married friend who is close to me, and is a complete peach, by the way.) I was driving along, enjoying the crisp evening breeze, rocking out to Dear and the Headlights, when all of a sudden I totally blew past the street I was supposed to turn on. "Oh! Shoot! Eff!" I quickly turn into the first place I figure I can make a U-turn, make sure that there is no oncoming traffic, and flip my little nubbin of a car around.

Halfway through the turn, I become painfully aware than my decision was apparently not the best. Firstly, as I'm rounding the turn, I see a sign to my left that indicates U-turns aren't allowed. I'm sorry, but shouldn't you put that sign where one can see it BEFORE breaking the law? No? Fine, be that way. Secondly, a car that was at the intersection decided to lay on their horn. Like, LAY ON THEIR HORN. I quickly whip my head around, expecting to see some huge SUV barreling into the back of my car, but no. The person honking at me wasn't even going anywhere. They had a red light. They weren't moving. I was doing nothing to obstruct them or their driving space.

And how do I know that they were for sure honking at me? Well, there was absolutely no other movement going on at that time, excepting my vehicle. And the continuous honking lasted through my entire turn. It hurt my soul.

I was genuinely bitter. Who are you to honk at me, sir? You don't know me. (Insert hand snap here.) Why do you feel the need to make my ears bleed? Did my making a U-turn seriously bother you? Offend you? Did I enter your personal driving space? Did I throw off your groove? Did I ruin your very life, just then? I swear, it's as if you thought that your intense honking would somehow alert a wandering patrol car, to which you would make very large hand gestures in my direction, all like, "Oooh! Oooh! There she goes! Over there! Illegal U-turn!"


I think that I'm entirely too irritated by things like this. And my husband wonders why I always insist on him driving, no matter which car we're taking somewhere. Goodness gracious.

On a side note, I seriously can't figure out how to take a video on my husband's laptop. I think we need to purchase some program, considering we don't have iMovie. Boooo. So, we'll see if I can come up with anything grand before Tuesday, for Ashley's contest. Stay tuned.


  1. okay. so i'm the WORST driver in the history of the world. i've gotten in more accidents than i care to remember and i've even driven through a ladys front yard once, but that wasn't my fault. anyway...

    this made me laugh so hard i could die. see, when i was in california earlier this month (hello, whyyy didn't we get together for coffee or tea or whatever?!) and the marine and i drove to vegas, he decided to sleep on our return drive back to cali. it's not so bad because it's mostly all 1-15 through the desert, totally doable for this jersey girl.

    well, by the time we were nearing the point when we had to get back on the 5... his sweet little behind was still snoring. i took a deep breath and told myself i could SOOOO handle this. um. really? what was i THINKING!?!?! he was jolted awake somewhere around temecula when i missed our exit, cut off a lady in an explorer and barreled onto the off ramp in true jersey style.

    the lady was totally laying on her horn and giving me the finger. i felt SO BAD. i seriously wanted to stop and tell her i was sorry!! but seriously? california driving is ridiculous... you've made it four years and the worst you've gotten was a few horn honks? i wouldn't take it tooo personally love! (i got waaaay more than that on my first day!)

    oh, and then the marine made me pull the car over so he could drive the rest of the way. fantastic.

  2. I HATE being honked at. I take it personally, too... and I always come home to the beau and say, "JOE! I got HONKED at today! Hold me!" and he doesn't really get why it's such a big deal. Because I'm NICE and I aced driver's ed!

  3. Haha, my boyfriend (he's from Michigan) always comments about drivers here!!! But I agree, drivers here suck...although I really am used to it and have nothing else to compare to! Annnddd I might have minor road rage at times, though I don't yell it out, I do in my head. "Umm, wtf dude, you're going 30 in a 55!!!! Yes, I will ride your bum til you go faster!"

  4. just for clarifications sake, do you mind defining "ghetto hand snap" please. I'm not familiar with this term and I'd like to hear your definition. Is this something "ghetto" people do? What exactly is a "ghetto" person? Please, share.


  5. I take honking very personally. It's so painful! And honking almost always goes hand in hand with be being lost -- and that makes me want to die.

  6. Anonymous -

    I'll go ahead and take out the "ghetto" from the "ghetto hand snap" thing, so as not to offend. In saying that, I originally was thinking along the lines of the Flavor of Love girls (guilty pleasure, I must admit) when they get in those arguments with eachother and snap in eachother's faces. Obviously a sarcastic thing.

    I'm sure you are aware I meant no harm in saying this, but since you remain anonymous to ask these questions, I am not able to contact you directly.

    You're welcome! :)

  7. I am just like you in this respect. I always get lost, I freak out when someone honks (and even more so if it's at me), and I never want to drive. My dream car is anything with a chauffeur, and I am not even kidding.

    Oh, but I have gotten a speeding ticket. And I was mortified. And I now drive EXACTLY five over the limit.

  8. Ummm yeah, I hate driving! I hate driving on the freeway and often I just hate driving in general. Hate the U-turns and waiting for a space in traffic to pull into traffic ... And I'm totally like you -- If I smell something fishy on the road I think my car is going to explode like in 5 seconds and I'm going to die! AHH! Stupid driving. And stupid people honking! Oh, and I hate hate hate people running red lights! It seems like people doing this have increased over the years. what the heckers?!

  9. Hear hear!

    I get insanely stressed when I have to drive somewhere I don't know. Hence why GPS has saved my life. And my marriage. (No more of me badgering Mike: "WHEN AM I TURNING? WHAT STREET? HOW LONG?")

    I'm a slightly neurotic girl, I admit. Oh, and I take honking oh-so-personally as well.

    I've beeped a few "Hey there, you're drifting over, little buddy. Watch out, hon!" beeps, but seldom beyond that.

    (I once flicked a guy off who almost caused an accident. But...I may have not raised my hand from behind my steering because I'm just THAT passive agressive.)

  10. So I also pretty much hate driving, but I always end up being the one to drive. I don't get it. I hate when people honk at me and I'm quick to take it personally too. *sigh*

  11. "Sweet mother! Who? Where? WHAT DID I DO WRONG?"

    We are totally twins. I also take it as a personal attack.

  12. A while back I had a "moment". Whilst backing out of my parking space a young child decided to run behind my car.

    I saw the kid, stopped abruptly and let him continue on. His mother came sauntering up ( not exactly heels to ass, as I would have been) and just let loose on me about not looking and being careless blah, blah, blah...

    I asked her why wasn't she holding her kids hand in a busy lot? To which she replied, "That had nothing to do with anything and I was effing lucky nothing happened."

    Absolutely correct. But, actually 3of us were effing lucky nothing happened.


  13. This is hilarious and I have some of the same issues. I ALWAYS think people are honking at me. I bet my mom could tell a million stories of being on the phone with me and I'm accusing everyone of honking at me whether they are or not.

    This also reminds me of the time that I went the wrong way down a one way driveway. At the end some guy honked at me and yelled "it's one way" to which I replied "no shit, should I reverse now - isnt it a bit too LATE seeing as I am at the END of the driveway?" (oh, and he had enough room to go around me in case anyone was wondering).

    And I get lost. A lot. In my own neighborhood. I need a GPS soon or my husband may divorce me. Or at least start ignoring my calls.

  14. I feel your pain on this one!

    A few years back I was trying to make my way to a left turn lane, but traffic going straight was way backed up. I finally inched my way up to the beginning of the left lane and slowly made my way into it. There was just enough space for me to fit my vehicle through, but as I did it the woman in the car next to me screamed "WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU????" at me. I could not for the life of me figure out why she was so ticked. I was going very slow and being careful to avoid all other vehicles and I did so just fine.

    I was so shaken up by this incident that I had to call my mom and a friend or two just to talk about it and get it out of my system. Why do we let complete strangers ruin our day? I dunno!

  15. I totally think that every funny smell is coming out of my car, every bump I hit is going to bring me a flat tire and busted rim, and that my check engine light will be going on any time soon. Good to know I am not the only one.

  16. I can have some serious anxiety when driving too. I can't drive next to any center divider...it freaks me out, or in lanes that are too narrow - I need my space. And, I can't drive somewhere I've never been before, because it makes me nervous, and then my husband yells at me, "You're going to get us killed!!!" So, he drives (all the way to Arizona), or on Thursday, he'll drive us all the way to San Francisco, while I'm passed out, and useless.

  17. Ugg, I hate when I get honked at, and I NEVER honk even when people almost kill me! We are too nice, and um I want to see HSM 3 too, we should go together...if only you were in TX :D

  18. If your husband has a mac, just use Photobooth and to take video :)

  19. I hate driving and I'm terrible at it. I'm always afraid I'm doing something wrong, and totally feel bad when I do.

    Police sirens always freak me out, too. Whenever I hear one I automatically think I'm getting pulled over. Even when I can't visibly see a police car. I'm totally ok having people drive me around.

  20. I just learned to drive in June and I have serious anxiety when it comes to people honking at me. I also panic whenever I need to get out of a parking spot.

    I use photobooth to make videos on my mac.

  21. I've been in one accident (and it wasn't my fault), I've never had a speeding ticket, and I consider myself to be a great driver! Though, this one time I HAD to merge. I HAD to. And it was rushhour and nobody would let me in, so I was forced to semi- cut someone off. And they didn't even seem to care. But a random car pulled up beside me, and this lady made eye contact with me and mouth-worded this: "That was WRONG". It ruined my day. My week, even. This was, not even kidding, about 3 years ago, and I am still affected by it. I'm not sure what I wanted to achieve by sharing this comment with you, but I do feel much better now.
    Anyways, I found this great post on bad drivers...I think you would really enjoy it!

  22. I hear ya on the honking! I honked at my fiance's car yesterday as he got off the highway, to say goodbye, and felt a little bad because of all of the people around me who might think I was honking at them.

    Maybe they knew you and were honking "hello" at you! Or maybe it was more of a "YEAHHHHHH ILLEGAL U-TURN!!! WHOO HOO!" kinda honk. Maybe it was a guy who thought you were cute. There are all sorts of possiblities. :)

  23. so i can totally relate on the cop's kid thing, but i am ALSO the child of a driver's examiner. I AM A GOOD DRIVER. so i get hella upset when people honk at me and make some sort of gesture indicating that i effed up because i was on the phone. Nine times out of ten (not that this happens often, because it doesn't) I eff up because of some other reason -- like they're in my blind spot or something. anyway. i always take it personally. also hate it when people try to blame stuff on me when THEY eff up just because I'm on the phone. Sorry, how does ME being on the phone make YOU a shitty driver? jerks. and yes. i'm ALWAYS on the phone when i drive.

    the bff moved to dallas from the tiny town we grew up in, so that was a bit of culture shock -- apparently, texans are terrible drivers. no bueno. i've been on the phone with him a few times when he's had a little road rage episode. ;)

    also, with your little nubbin of a car comment -- i have this total mental image of something between a clown car and the car that urkel drove on "family matters" getting whipped around on a big pole like a bumper car. ;)

    also, to the poor girl with the parking lot incident -- i too almost hit a kid once -- because he was about 2 feet tall and i couldn't see him in my rear-view. his dad of COURSE blamed the fact that i was on the phone. that time I DID say something to the effect of "I'm sorry, i'm not sure how my 'hanging the fuck up and driving' would make your kid grow tall enough to be seen out of my rear-view?"

    i always feel a little bad, though. Catholic guilt or something. :)

  24. Okay omg! I am EXACTLY THE SAME WAY with driving! I freak out when people honk, even if they're not honking at me, always think that funny smell is MY CAR ON FIRE, OH LORDY!, and always, and I know this is weird, think that SOMEHOW I cause any accidents that happen while I'm driving. Like if I pass a stoplight and the person behind me gets in a fender bender I automatically think it must be my fault.

    Lol. Just discovered your blog. Love it. Will stick around.

  25. To honk or not to honk, I hear you! The worst honking that ever happened to me, was when I was in a left-hand turning lane, that was the only lane I could turn left in, and would explain why there was another lane, the right lane, for those that don't want to turn. Ugh, WTH, getting honked out for wanting to go where I want to go, seriously, rude. There is also a time a woman driving in in front of me was annoyed, I guess with me behind her?! I still will never know. She slammed her breaks, parked her car, and came over to my hood and pounded on it. And yes, I thought imminent death in SoCool SoCal, imminent death!!! Yikes.

    But my original thought of what Cali drivers would be like (hailing from Canada, where the drivers are very nice), had nothing to do with honking per se, but you know that scene in Clueless, with Dionne and Cher and Murray "accidentally" get on to the freeway and the big rig pulls up and all they can do is scream? Yeah, I imagined that my first freeway experience would be something of the sort. Sadly it was very calm and quiet. Pooh.

    Thanks for sharing, I am still getting through your blog (day 4 although not consecutively, cause that might be a little crazy, just a little. maybe) and I may, or may not be, enjoying more wine whilst perusing. Cheers!


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