driving

There is More

Since I have been lucky enough to continue going into the office for work, I am among the (far fewer) commuters in the morning and afternoon. And lately on my way home, I have been taking the freeway a few exits past my own, and then driving up and down the side streets around my neighborhood, just listening to music and decompressing. I like looking at the different houses—especially the front doors, I love a pop of color on a front door—and seeing which roads wind into each other, which ones dead end, and which go up into the hills.

I also like driving around and finding the little spots that hold memories for me, some good, some bad, some from over a decade ago, and some from only a few months before everything shut down.

I can drive down the street where the food trucks park on Friday nights, where my cousin once jogged down the very windy, cold street to get a churro for us to split before the cart closed.

I can drive past the pancake restaurant my friends and I use to eat at once a week in high school, before we spent the night driving around blasting music—sometimes with added choreography.

I can drive past the front lawn where I saw the boy I liked take prom pictures with another girl.

I can drive past the park where I ate cake with my best friend the week before she moved away.

I can drive past the house with the orange tree out front, where my grandparents use to live and my papa used to let me sit on his lap while he pulled into the driveway.

On some streets I can hear myself laughing so hard with my friends that I can’t breathe; on other streets I can feel the heaviness of a hard day and hear the sad songs carrying me home; and on some streets I think of a specific person, specific food, specific weather pattern or specific song for reasons I can’t remember anymore.

More than anything, the driving around reminds me that the world is still out there. It reminds me that I’m alive—that I’ve lived a life. And it gives me hope that I still have lots of life left to live.

There are more memories to make out there, more spots to claim pieces of my mind and my memory. There is more than what I see from inside my house, more than what I feel inside my own head, and more than what we hear on the news or social media. There is more out there and we will find it.

A Passive Aggressive List of All the Bad Driving Habits We Should Leave in 2019 (List-cember #4)

We are nearing the end of a decade.

Thus, when the ball drops this New Years Eve, that feeling of potential and newness will undoubtedly be a little magnified. We might be inspired to try new things, make big changes, and find exciting ways to kickstart 2020.

In that spirit, I thought I would mention something we should leave in 2019. It’s something that I think has scarred this decade (and many before it), and something I believe we can only benefit from eradicating, both from our year, our decade, and ultimately, our world.

I am of course referring to bad driving.

I personally do a lot of driving, so it could be argued that I’m hyper-sensitive/completely fed up/a borderline road rage-aholic, but I also think there are things that simply need to stop.

Maybe you’ll agree with me, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll feel personally attacked, I don’t know. Regardless, let us all take a deep, cleansing breath and DO BETTER.

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1) When changing lanes or making a turn, turn on your damn blinkers.

2) When you’ve completed said turn or lane change, turn OFF your damn blinkers.

3) Also, in regards to said turn—JUST TURN. You can do it. Just crank that wheel and step on that gas. Go!

4) Stop texting and driving. Seriously. It’s dumb, you’re not “better” at it than other people, and there is absolutely nothing important enough to put every single driver, including yourself, at risk.

5) When the light turns green, GO. As in NOW.

6) ESPECIALLY on green arrows. If you are the first car in a line of cars waiting to turn on a green arrow, the moment that light turns green I need you to drive as if the car behind you is on fire.

7) Stop at stop signs. This one seems pretty obvious but, you know, APPARENTLY IT’S NOT.

8) Merge like a gentleman. I get it. Merging sucks. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk. Just wait your turn, take your turn, and then we can all move on.

9) Drive faster. I understand there is a speed limit. I respect the speed limit. I don’t always obey it, but I respect it. You should too. And by that I mean, at least drive the speed limit. I’ve got things to do, I’m sure you’ve got things to do, so why not drive faster than the powerwalking senior who just passed us?

10) Drive slower. I get it, time is money and traffic is awful. But weaving in and out, speeding down the shoulder or a bike lane, or just driving 30 or 40 miles an hour over the speed limit does not make you cool, or in any way make me feel like you are more important than me. Again, just respect the speed limit, and maybe the lives of your fellow drivers (and peds!)

11) Do not slam on your breaks unless it is absolutely necessary. Examples of things that are not absolutely necessary: being nosy about an accident on the side of the road, realizing you just passed a cop, seeing a billboard, trying to wake up your friend in the passenger’s seat, dropping a french fry.

12) Get over for service vehicles. When an ambulance, firetruck or police car has their sirens on, pull over. As in alllll the way over.

13) Park in between the lines. They are not suggestions, they are requirements, y’all.

14) Turn your lights on. The sun is down, you are now a ghost death machine, take a second and turn your lights on, please.

15) This might be specific to Southern California drivers, but rain is NOT a sign of the apocalypse. So while caution is recommended, a complete and total forfeit of all driving abilities is not.

16) Don’t litter. Or, written another way, stop throwing shit out the window of your car.

17) Say thank you. A wave, a nod, a grateful burst of eye contact is all I ask. Something that says, “hey, I noticed you were a decent human who let me make the driving maneuver I was hoping to make, may we both live out the rest of our day peacefully!”

18) Approach the limit line. Hey, it’s me, behind you. This light is never going to change unless you pull forward and activate the sensor. So please, for the love of everything, pull up.

19) Speaking of pulling up, if you are making a left hand turn, PULL OUT INTO THE INTERSECTION. DO NOT. I repeat. DO NOT WAIT BEHIND THE LINE UNTIL THE LIGHT TURNS RED AND THEN TURN, LEAVING THE REST OF US STUCK AT THE LIGHT.

20) Speaking of speaking of pulling up, when parallel parking, PULL. THE. HELL. UP. There is no reason for there to be half a car length in front and/or behind you. Pull up close to that car and leave room for, I don’t know, EVERYONE ELSE, who might want to park on this street.

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Wow. That felt good.

I think I just added a year or two to my life (and saved money on therapy) by getting that off my chest.


 

Check out more List-cember posts here.

A Quick (Life) Driving Lesson

Hello and welcome to your driving lesson. Please take a seat and buckle up.

There is a lot to learn, but don’t be afraid. Like anything else, driving just takes practice and patience.

Firstly, let’s start the car.

Excellent. How did that feel? I really want you to soak it in because while it’s a simple skill, it’s also very important. On any drive you might make, it is both your responsibility and your freedom to start the car. Sometimes it may be difficult. Some days, perhaps due to factors out of your control, it might even seem impossible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is always a friendly face close by that can give you a jump-start, should you ever need one.

Now, with the car still in park, I want you to lightly step on the gas. Do you hear that? The rev of the engine? That is a reminder that you are in control of your own speed. You determine how fast or slow you go. You.

You see the brake pedal along side it? That is also at your disposal. Learning to take control of and responsibility for these two pedals is one of the most important parts of both becoming a good driver and enjoying your drive.

Good. Now, let’s put our foot on the brake and put the car in drive. Good. Now let’s ease on the gas pedal. Excellent.

On any given day, when and if you should you choose to start the car, you are in charge of your own destination. Granted, there are times when there are going to be specific places you have to be and specific times you have to be there. However, you should never forget that the way to get there has always and will always be up to you.

On days when you do not have a required destination on your agenda, know that the roads, no matter how open or congested they may be, have a place for you. If you want to get somewhere, you can, it might just take some patience. It may even take so much patience that you’ll try a few alternate routes along the way, just for a change of pace. You might even like one of those alternate routes so much you’ll change your destination all together! And that’s okay! Like I said, it’s up to you. You are the driver, don’t forget that.

Now, you might be thinking about passengers. While driving, it is crucial to surround yourself with beneficial passengers. People who will help make your drive more pleasant. Whether that be by giving advice when you come to a crossroads, enduring bumpy roads with you, or discovering new places neither of you ever expected.

Some passengers, even though they seem valuable based on their knowledge of certain terrain or experience in different traffic jams, will not provide you the assistance you need, and can often lead you down the wrong path. Understand that you do not have to keep anyone in your car that makes you feel uncomfortable or underappreciated. Simply pull over and let them out, you can continue your drive without them.

Okay, go ahead and move into the left lane here. Good.

While driving, you will consistently be given options as to which lane you’d like to drive in. You may start in one lane, find yourself unsatisfied, and then try another. This is totally normal. It is also possible that while you are perfectly comfortable in one lane, another driver will abruptly enter that lane, almost without warning. This may interrupt plans you had regarding speed, destination, timing, etc., and at times may even result in a harmful collision. Understand that surrounding drivers all have their own trips in progress, and while it may seem as though they intentionally throw off yours, that is not always the case. Sometimes your sudden presence is just as surprising to them as they are to you. Other times however, it does appear as though surrounding drivers control their cars recklessly and often leave a trail of destruction, be it actual, physical collisions, or residual emotional distress, in their wake. It is crucial to your driving experience that you absorb these experiences, allow them to teach you something, and then move on. Do not let the driving habits of others prevent you from continuing your drive all together.

Alright, pull over up here. Excellent. I believe that is all the time we have for today, but know that there are many lessons to be learned behind the wheel. And just when you think you’ve learned them all, you’ll make a turn down a road you’ve never been down before and find it has something entirely new to teach you. Don’t get discouraged. Embrace every turn and every lesson. For there is always something incredible just over the next hill or right behind the next building. There are always new tricks and new treats. You simply must be patient and keep driving.