There are few things I love more than barreling down the open road at 80+ MPH, blaring some of my favorite tunes, watching the scenery scroll past as the stars and moon in the rural nighttime sky illuminate the way. However, city driving is a completely different animal, especially here in New Orleans. I don’t know any more than the next guy why anyone thought it would be a good idea to suddenly choose to expand and “improve” several hectic thoroughfares at once, while simultaneously installing a new streetcar line. Rumor has it that they were striving to have all this done in time for the Superbowl. Does anyone else get the feeling they may have misjudged the time these grueling projects will take? Perhaps they didn’t realize just how many decades of patchwork “repair” lay beneath the surface of the concrete. At any rate, I considered doing a little research to try to find some answers or excuses for my readers. Then I remembered I’m a columnist, not a journalist.
There’s a saying that “sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better.. Well, no other city exemplifies that statement quite like New Orleans, to the point that it could be an official motto. Driving conditions in the city have always been far from optimal and our drivers are terrifyingly ignorant of the rules of the road and of drivers’ etiquette. Apparently, if you can start your car, you can get a driver’s license. For example, a blinking yellow traffic light does not mean “stop.” It means “proceed with caution;” so slow down, but if you want to be a nice guy and let someone out into traffic from a side street, don’t do it when there are a dozen cars behind you waiting to go, for Christ’s sake!
By the way, when you’re sitting at the steering wheel, there’s a stick coming out of the left side of the steering column. If you push it down, it activates your turning signal (or “blinker” in layman’s terms), indicating to other drivers that you’re about to make a left turn or switch to the left lane. Guess what? If you push up on that little stick (gasp), it signals to the right! Wow, what an ingenious invention! Start using it, goddammit!
As a habitually less-than-punctual person, I’m typically speeding somewhere (within reason, of course); and although I’m always cautious and observant, I’m also a very aggressive driver. I can’t stand it when someone plays games with me on the road. Everyone knows the game; I call it “automotive leapfrog.” Nothing gets me screaming profanities quite like it. It’s when someone passes you and decides to creep along once they cut you off. You get tired of lagging behind them, so you try to pass them, but they speed up just enough to where you can’t get by. If you eventually get ahead of them again, they never fail to choose that moment to decide they want to drive fast now, so they pass you again. I really, really hate that. I want a Mad Max-style car or a demolition derby vehicle. How I wish it were legal to affix a Gatling gun to the roof of the car, a battering ram to the front and enormous spikes on the hubcaps! It would also be a great source of fun and stress release to be able to drop explosives out of the back of the vehicle too, like Mario Kart banana peels and Koopa shells, but more like grenades and mines. Sometimes I just want to yank shitty drivers out of their cars and bitch-slap some sense into them. Sadly, the world does not live by punk-rock barroom rules.