Sunday, September 21, 2008

Courtesy on the Highways (or NOT)

My recent business trip involved travelling to St. Petersburg. My options were driving or Southern Trailways, so I drove. I do not like to drive, but the timing was such that I should not have had much traffic in either direction. That was true, but "light traffic" is a relative term. On the way to St. Pete, traffic was relatively light (as light as it ever gets in Central Florida) and there were no delays, so I made great time.

Even without any actual mishaps, I was a nervous wreck, by the time I reached my hotel because of the idiots on the road!

I think they must put drugs in the water in Orlando. Those people over there are absolute menaces on the highways. At one point, I was in the middle lane (of three). An Orlando police cruiser passed me on the left. A guy in front of me suddenly decided to change lanes with no signal or effort to determine whether or not there was room -- and he very nearly ran the cop into the wall! It looked just like Kyle Busch and Robbie Gordon (or anybody) pretty much any Sunday afternoon. What was amazing to me was that the cop did not pull the guy over! He just drove away. Maybe he had to go back to the police station and go to the bathroom. I know it scared the shit out of me because I was right behind them and would not have been able to avoid getting involved if they had collided.

It appears that in Orlando the traffic rules are different from other places in America. Those people drive like Italians: they decide where they're going and everybody else just needs to deal with it.

I am never going to look in my rear view mirror again when driving through Orlando! Every time I glanced in my mirror there was some bastard in a SUV or a big old redneck truck right on my ass. Scared the hell out of me every time I peeked back there, so I quit.

I didn't worry about the trip home on Sunday morning. I expected traffic to be light. The church traffic would be on the surface streets. Truck traffic should be light (WRONG!). I hoped to make it home without any undue trauma. Just outside of Tampa I came across a multi-car accident that had apparently just happened. I did not stop partly because there were a bunch of people helping who appeared to know what they were doing, and because there was some Cruella DeVille look-alike in a Mercedes about a half inch from my rear bumper, talking on the phone. I was too scared to even begin to slow down. Once we passed the accident and she realized any cop the area was likely to be busy for a while, she whipped around me and roared down the left lane like the Roadrunner.

My hopes about getting through Orlando without any undue freaking out were dashed when I passed the Disney ramp. What the hell all those people were doing getting ON the highway at 11:00 AM, I have no freaking idea, but a lot of people were leaving Disney early today. Traffic never came to a stop (which it typically does at that point when the Parks are busy), but it got heavy and hairy for a while.

Just past downtown Orlando, in pretty steady traffic, I saw something I have never seen before outside of the movies: street racers. A white Honda Civic and a red car that was probably some kind of sport scar I should recognize were racing, weaving in and out of traffic and cutting people off in every lane. It looked like a scene from The Fast and the Furious. A few miles down the road, I was gratified to see the red car on the side of the road with the hood up. It appeared to have a mechanical problem. I was pleasantly surprised. I had rather feared that if I saw either of those two cars again, they would be strewn in pieces down the center median, hopefully not intermixed with bits and pieces of the drivers.

My car arrived home in one piece, but I was kind of a wreck.

Oh, and by the way, my 'weekend' consisted of Sunday afternoon only. I will try to refrain from writing much this week as a mercy to the reading public.

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