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Fish Or Cut Bait

Drivers Ed
by Bob Ciminel

October 21, 2005

I've only been driving about 45 years, so I don't consider myself an expert; experienced, yes, but an expert, no. I've driven the Los Angeles freeways at rush hour, Highway One in the fog, the Mohave Desert in the heat, and the West Virginia turnpike when it was only a three-lane road. I've passed snowplows in winter storms, done Three-Sixties on ice-covered two-lane roads in Pennsylvania, dealt with black ice in the high desert of Idaho, and dodged oak trees driving under the influence on the back roads of coastal South Carolina. But I've never driven "from Tucson to Tucumcari, or Tehachapi to Tonopah." So I'm not an expert.

I've been driving in Atlanta for about 11 years. I go to work at 6 a.m. because nobody schedules meetings at 6 a.m. You get no points for coming in early, only for leaving late. The reason people leave late is because they spend all day in meetings and can't get any work done. I go in at 6, finish most of my must-do work by 8, and have the rest of the day to attend meetings, where nothing is accomplished. I know you're wondering how I can get my work done in two hours. Well, how long should it take to answer, forward, or delete email messages? What's difficult about listening to voicemail messages? The bulk of my work is done out in the field at the power plants where the real work is going on.

gif Idiot drivers

Idiot drivers
By Larry Wright, The Detroit News
Distributed exclusively to subscribers by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

Driving to work at 6 a.m. means I'm in the dark most of the time, both figuratively and literally. So my other drivers are dehumanized into oncoming headlights and receding taillights - or sometimes rapidly approaching taillights if I'm not paying attention.

Once in awhile, someone may even use a turn signal, usually after they have cut in front of me. People fly around me all the time. They want to be ahead of me at the next light. I don't know why. They can't go any faster than the guy in front of me is going. In general though, people in Atlanta do not use their turn signals the way they were meant to be used.

We have turn signals on our cars to tell other drivers what we are about to do, not what we did. Cutting someone off and then turning on your turn signal is a victory sign, not a warning. It's a way of saying, "Screw you," courteously, I guess. But the worst things people do with their turn signals is leave them on.

Most of our major intersections in Atlanta have left turn lanes and lights that provide a green arrow so lefties can make their turns safe from oncoming traffic. It is a simple concept; they paint big white arrows on the pavement to show it is a turn lane; and they put signs overhead saying "Left Turn Only." So it's obvious that if your car is in the lanes painted with big white left arrows, under signs saying "Left Turn Only," in front of traffic lights with green arrows pointing left, you are probably going to make a left turn when the light changes. Then why would you want to keep your left turn signal flashing the whole time you are sitting there waiting for the light to change? What could you possibly communicate to the driver behind you that he or she hasn't already figured out?

Maybe they've changed the driver education courses since I learned to drive. I asked my son if they taught him he had to have his turn signal on in order to turn at an intersection. Was there some kind of interlock between the steering wheel and the turn signal stalk that prevented turning the wheel unless the turn signal was on? He said, no. Good, because if there was, it didn't work on any of my cars.

I've developed a bad habit since I began driving in Atlanta. I don't use my turn signals much. Oh, I did when I first started driving here, but quickly learned that if you signal you're going to make a right turn, drivers making left turns will cut you off. It's safer to pretend you are going to go straight and then turn at the last minute. The driver behind you might get upset, but that's what brake lights are for. He was probably following too closely anyway. Now, if the fellow in the oncoming lane decides to turn in front of you, you have a problem. And that's why God gave man the ability to invent collapsing steering wheels, airbags and seatbelts. Even if you never take a risk, the probability of death is still 100 percent.


Bob Ciminel's articles may include satire and parody, and mix fact with fiction.
He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.

Bob Ciminel lives in Roswell, Georgia, and works for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.  Bob is also a conductor on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.


Bob Ciminel ©2001 - 2005
All Rights Reserved

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