Friday, April 1, 2011

Richmond Drivers

I'm not sure how your car pertains to a higher being.

I love driving, on highways and parkways and expressways and toll roads and any other place that doesn't have stop lights and stop signs. I am great at driving in those places. I have a tiny car that's relatively low to the ground. It's only a four-cylinder, thankfully. If I had anything with a larger engine I'm sure I would have had my license suspended by now. I like speeding, not because I'm in a hurry, but because I like getting wherever I'm going as fast as possible. I drive as though I have to pee really badly, all the time.

This type of driving doesn't really work in Richmond. People here are not in a hurry to get anywhere, ever. They take their time. They're okay with not honking at people who take more than ten seconds to go at a green light. They also don't mind going ten under the speed limit on heavily trafficed roads. I don't understand it, I'm anxious to get where I'm going, whether it's the grocery store, to meet friends, to get to DC - it doesn't matter. This also applies to drives I take on late nights to nowhere, it's nice to move as fast as my mind is moving sometimes.

While discussing our upcoming trip to Savannah, my friend says to me, "It's supposed to take what eight hours to get there? So, that means you'll have us there in six."

I grew up in Northern Virginia. I know traffic. I know my way around it. And I know like 92473 ways to get wherever I need to go. I have no concept of what a mile is, but I can tell you how long it will take to get somewhere. Since moving to Richmond I don't like driving anywhere that takes more than fifteen minutes to drive to (unless it's another city's limits). If it takes more than fifteen minutes to get to, it's probably not worth going to anyway, i.e. the suburbs.

These are my issues with Richmond drivers:

1. Signals

Every car made ever has two of them. They work when you push a lever up or down. They allow people around you to anticipate your turn. It's a courtesy to those around you, prevents accidents, and when both are flashing they let people know that they should go around you. Anyway, they're really great, and I highly recommend using them.

Though, they can be used improperly, like when you need to change lanes and you do so, but you forget to turn your signal off after your move and proceed to irritate everyone around you. Stop it.

2. Speed Limits

No one in Richmond seems to be aware of what they mean or how they work. Sure, you're not supposed to go faster than they say, but you're also not supposed to got ten under the speed limit. I get it, if you do this you're probably really stupid and not sure where you are (get a GPS) and aren't stopping for directions, or you're really old. I don't care, just think of all the people that have to pee and get out of their way.

3. Abrupt Stops

Oh! Hi! I see that you're a chick my age and apparently a terrible driver. You've stopped in the middle of a main street, cool. You're picking up your friend? They're taking forever? I know how that goes. I also know that you have a button on your dashboard with a little red triangle on it, you should push it. See what happens. Oh, crazy, it turns both your signals on. Thanks! Now I know to drive around you when the other lane is clear. That was like so easy.

4. Parallel Parking

Richmond has shit public transportation. The buses are undependable, and...oh wait, there is no other form of public transportation, so we drive everywhere. That's fine, but we live in a city and there are a lot of us. You don't need six feet between you and the other cars to pull out properly. Really. You are part of the parking problem. Don't complain about not being able to not find a spot if you typically take up two.

If you don't live in the city and aren't accustomed to parallel parking, please stay in the suburbs with your giant car. We live here, and we park on the street and you're wasting space.

5. Cobblestone

There is a particular stretch of cobblestone called "Shockoe Slip." I have to drive down it every day on my way home. The speed limit is still 25 MPH there, and it is still two lanes. I promise.

6. Lanes

These are conveniently marked in contrasting white or yellow on the black asphalt. In most areas there are two lanes. Pick one! Stay in it. And if for some reason you need to change lanes, use your signal!

7. One-Way streets

I get it, you're drunk. We all are. I assume that you know how to read arrows. Follow them.

8. Trucks/SUVs/Other giant vehicles

You (I'm assuming) live in the city. Why would you need a giant car? Do you transport things frequently? If you do, it's probably a company car, in which case there's probably a company lot you can leave it in. Do that.

9. Magnets

Your car is covered in them. They support some really noble cause, I'm sure. But you're not really raising awareness, you're saying, "Hi, I feel the need to advertise everything I'm associated with in public, all the time." We don't care. And I will remove them from your car when I'm drunk. You are welcome.

10. Vanity Plates!

Virginia has an inordinate amount of these because they're really cheap here. Cheap also sometimes (most of the time) implies tacky. It's great that you're "OPNYN8D" or "AWWWSUM" - we all feel this way about ourselves, but the rest of us let other people find out in a personal, less public way.

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