Thursday, April 05, 2007

Traffic Diversions

by Kristine Coblitz

As any Working Stiff will tell you, the commute to work can be the most tiresome and frustrating part of the work day. When I worked outside the home, I drove nearly 30 miles each way to my office. That was about 90 minutes of my life each day spent behind the wheel of my car. During bad weather or when there was a car accident on the highway, I could easily tack on another hour…or two.

It’s the spring season in Pittsburgh, which means orange construction barrels as far as the eye can see. Nearly every main roadway has orange signs signaling upcoming projects. You know it’s bad when the majority of the television newscasts are consumed with detour instructions and roadside interviews with disgruntled drivers. Let’s not even get started on the rising gas prices.

I rather enjoy my life as a hermit now, but I do have to get out once in a while.

I don’t listen to the radio when I'm driving. Too many advertisements and too much mindless chatter for my taste. When I get into my car, the first thing I do is turn on my CD player and lose myself in my music selections. Singing along to tunes takes my mind off reckless drivers and traffic snarls, at least to some degree. When I’m planning a long road trip, such as my recent hike to Cleveland a few weeks ago, I take a book on tape to keep my mind stimulated. If I can’t read a book while I’m driving (too dangerous), at least I can listen to one, right?

I try to be a responsible driver. I don’t talk on my cell phone unless I’m lost or running late. I don’t eat greasy hamburgers while I drive, although I will sip a drink from my water bottle once in a while. I don’t put on my make-up, unless it’s a quick coat of lipstick while stopped at a red light. I use my turn signal.

And I always sing along (loudly) to my music.

Drivers who can’t control their road rage infuriate me. So do distracted drivers. A few nights ago, I was driving in the parking lot of the grocery store behind a woman cruising in the opposing lane of traffic because she was fussing with something (or someone perhaps?) in the front seat. Gotta love it. Perhaps it’s Spring Stupidity (Thanks for the snappy catch phrase, Joyce!).

Tell me I’m not alone in this. What are your driving pet peeves? I want to hear what really gets under your skin when behind the wheel.


Joyce Tremel said...

My biggest pet peeve is people talking on their cell phones while they're driving. I understand that sometimes there's an emergency, but pull over!

Have you ever seen someone driving with a cell phone who also talks with their hands? I don't think these people even realize what they're doing. I've actually seen a driver with a cell phone in one hand, smoking a cigarette with the other. I wondered how they were steering the car.

A couple of years ago, there was a woman in Ohio who drove right INTO A MOVING TRAIN. She was talking on her cell phone and witnesses stated she never even braked.

Annette said...

Oh, Kristine, I could go on forever! People who speed through parking lots are right up there at the top of my list. Especially those who speed through the pedestrian cross walks in front of the store.

Last weekend, I had a guy behind me blow his horn at me and make nasty hand signals because I was slowing down, approaching a red light and stopped traffic. As if speeding up to it and slamming on my brakes at the last second would have gotten either of us anywhere sooner.

Annette said...

Joyce, the other part of that is text messaging. Someone I know and love (no, I won't name names) wrecked into a parked car because she was reading a text message.

Cathy said...

Cell phones are the number one pet peeve. Joyce, I've seen them drinking a cup of coffee, talking on the phone, and driving. I'm not sure how.

Number two pet peeve is tailgating. I get all perturbed when someone rides the back bumper of my car, lights blazing. On our little two lane road, I have been known to slow way down in response.
Please forgive me.

Fun post, Kristine. Thanks!

Joyce Tremel said...

Cathy, I do that too! Usually I drive pretty fast, but if there's someone behind me in a hurry, you can bet I slow down to about 5 miles UNDER the speed limit.

Anonymous said...

I hate this time of year, when there are big chucks missing in the road some places. Sometimes, from sight, you can't see whether they're big or little indents. What I hate worst is when you unexpectedly hit a big pothole and you get bumped so hard you bite your tongue!

Anonymous said...

Great responses! Looks like cell phones top the list.

Anonymous said...

Like Joyce and Cathy, I so enjoy slowing down on a two-lane road when someone is riding my tail, (especially because I am rarely traveling under the speed limit). I love to watch the silent expletives fly as the driver then zooms past me when the road opens to four lanes!

Two years ago, we had to evacuate the Florida panhandle so that a hurricane could come in. We followed a swerving woman in 30 mph bumper-to-bumper traffic for about two hours. When we were finally able to pass her, we found out what was causing her to swerve. She was reading, no kidding, to her kids. Now, that's a great mother, huh?

Fun post, Kristine! Thanks!