motoring madness

… beep beep … beep beep … yeah …

I was driving home the other night and while sitting at a red light, the driver behind me starting randomly honking his horn. I looked in the mirror and the guy wasn’t even looking in my direction. I tried to work out why he might have been doing it, but had no idea — the light was still red, there was nowhere for me to go, my lights were on, no indicator flashing. I was stumped, and he seemed focused on something on his passenger seat anyway.

When the light changed, we took off, and the random honking continued for a little bit and then stopped. At the next light, it started up again, but now he was in the lane next to me. I turned off that road, cut through some back streets to make a stop at an ATM, and when I pulled back on to a main road closer to home, I hit another red light. All of a sudden, this honking starts again, I look up and there is the same car.

At that moment, it dawned on me that it wasn’t the driver (who had both hands on the top of the steering wheel), his car had Tourette’s!

tat for ticket

… lovely Rita … meter maid … where would I be without you? …

Have you ever got a parking ticket? Have you ever begged a parking inspector to not ticket your car, only to have them give it to you anyway?

I’ve been the lucky winner of three parking tickets in my life. I don’t remember why I got the first one, but it was back in Melbourne — think it might have been an expired meter. I got the second one for parking on a street that turns to permit-only after 7pm — there are far too many permit-only streets in L.A. The third one was a beauty. I parked in a spot with a meter four minutes before the meters turned off for the evening. I didn’t have any change in my pocket and thought to myself, “Four minutes? No-one will give me a ticket for that.” Sure enough, the ticket was time-stamped 5:59pm, one measly minute before 6!! The judge agreed it was silly and I didn’t have to pay that one. But, I can still hear the evil laughter spewing from the parking inspector as he slid the ticket under my wiper, thinking what a funny guy he was and how much he loved his job.

Today, I got a little sweet revenge.

A couple of months ago, I was driving on a street in my neighborhood when I saw one of those cars with “parking enforcement” emblazoned on it. It was parked on the side of the road, under a tree, nicely shaded. As I got closer, I realized there was someone in the driver’s seat, laid back, taking a nap. It was 9:30am, so I don’t think he was on his lunch break. I decided that even though it was my tax dollars he was snoring away, I would show a little mercy, give him the benefit of the doubt and let him sleep off whatever he’d gotten up to the night before. I figured that showing him the courtesy that he has probably denied so many others was a friendly gesture.

When I drove past the same spot late this afternoon and the same guy was in the same spot catching another forty winks, I decided it was time for a little action. The nice lady at the City Department of Transportation happily took down the license plate and said she would investigate. She even understood why I might not want to give her my name — apparently, there is no “blue wall” as far as parking inspectors go.

It might have been petty, and I might have felt like a snitch for a moment or two, but that passed quick. I figure that karma balanced itself out just that little bit more, and I’m glad I could help.

driving miss dangerously

… when I go driving I stay in my lane … getting cut off, it makes me insane …

The saying goes that “things get better with age” — wine, whiskey (hang on, is it just alcohol?), music (although that can skip decades at a time!)

The one area that that rule doesn’t apply to is … drum roll, please … driving!

It never surprises me that the people dawdling along in the left lane on the freeway are typically older than, say, 40. Sure, there are other stereotypically bad drivers, but I’m not going to get into that right now. I just don’t understand why your abilities become so much worse, as you gain more and more experience. I don’t think it has anything to do with declining reaction times or anything typically physical. I actually believe that it has more to do with attitude. As people get older, they get less and less tolerable of younger people doing things the same way as, or better than, them. And, if by their progressed age, they happen to be driving a big luxury car, their feeling of owning the road is even greater. They will plod along in the left lane, ignoring everything else going on around them — you just have to go around them, which is just silly.

No, I’d say that driving abilities tend to follow a curve pattern, a bit like playing pool and drinking. You get better and better the more you drink, until you reach a certain point, and from there it just falls away to nothing and you can’t even see the far pocket, less hit a ball into it! Teenage drivers are idiots, in general, and, like so many things in life, most people seem to regress when they get to a certain age.

My grandfather went to get his license back — at age 94. They gave it to him without hesitation.


… the highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive …

Stuff from the road:

  • I’m used to seeing people driving with their seats laid back. It’s usually young guys in their Acuras or the like, with their music cranked. But what do you make of a guy laying right back while driving a minivan? I guess he thought he was cool. I just chuckled.
  • Does the yield law apply when you’re in the parking lot of a fast food joint trying to get in to the drive-thru lane? If you’re the girl who arrived and then pulled in ahead of me after I’d been waiting for a few minutes to turn left into the lane, then I guess it does. For everyone else, I’m going to assume that it’s first-come, first-served. All I could do was stare at her, shake my head and laugh. I’m not sure if she was rude, ignorant or just made a silly mistake. Regardless, I shouldn’t have been getting fast food, even if it was the healthiest stuff on their menu. Perhaps, it was “carma”.


… inhale … inhale … you’re the victim …

I was driving home from a football match yesterday, down the busy 405. Traffic was banked up pretty tightly and I looked across at the car and driver on my right side. The driver, a woman about 60-ish, was wearing a respirator. No, not one of those full-on gas masks, more the kind that someone who works with chemicals might wear. While I’m guessing it was probably so that she could handle some kind of serious allergy to the pollution that hangs over this city, I was more worried by the fact that she must have had very limited visibility with that thing on her noggin. Honestly, I hate having the slightest thing hindering my vision when I’m driving, so to have a respirator on would be very difficult.

I just hope she doesn’t hit someone that she can’t see. Might be time to find someone else to drive, methinks.