Posts Tagged ‘idiot drivers’

One Of Those Days

September 16, 2009

My job doesn’t always require me to get all dressed up, boardroom style.  As long as I look professional and am not dealing with a client at a formal meeting, I can dress a bit more casually.  Since most of my customer dealings are by phone or more informal, I don’t often wear a suit.  Today was not one of those days.  I put on one of my nice suits and went into the office where I was met with stares of incredulity and questions about whether I was interviewing elsewhere for a new job—buttheads.

My meeting with big muckety-mucks (a technical business term for over paid, high ego senior managers) was set for 1 pm.  I went home for a light lunch and headed back for the 10 minute drive to the meeting at 12:30.  Lots of time, right?

Nope.

Turning onto a busy street and getting into the far left lane to make my next turn, my car sputtered and lost power.  Frantically looking over my shoulder to see if I could get back to the berm on the right side of the road, my gaze was met by a solid wall of two lanes worth of cars.  And, seconds later, the engine gave up the ghost and quit.

I put on the emergency blinkers and attempted to restart the car.  No luck.

What’s that smell?  Gasoline?

Getting out of the car, I opened the hood to help, along with the emergency blinkers, to let oncoming traffic know I was stalled out.  I was amazed to see how many people stayed in the lane, accelerating towards me.  I feel lucky not to have been creamed by one of them.

Called good old AAA…there has to be some reason I continue to pay them year after year for other than a map and a 10% off coupon to Willy’s World of Wombats down the way.  Told the lady on the phone I was blocking traffic and she said that would bump my priority way up.  So, I waited.

Called the police, too, to let them know I was blocking traffic.  Especially after the third or fourth clueless driver almost accelerated into the back of the car.  They said they’d send a car.  So, I waited.

A few kind souls driving by asked if I needed help.  One guy even offered to block the three lanes of traffic with his jeep and help push the car over to the right side.  I declined, fearing for his life as well as my own.

My barber pulled up behind me, laughing.  Going back to punch him in the face (okay, not really…I was laughing by this time, too), I noticed a pool of gasoline on the road at the back of the car.  Uh-oh.

Called the police back and asked if they could connect me to the fire department…just in case.  Found out there was a severe car accident up the way and no one was available.

I started suspiciously eyeballing every passing driver with a cigarette butt, hoping they wouldn’t flick it out at my car.

AAA tow truck finally arrived and we headed off to my car repair shop. But, that severe car accident?  Right on the way we were going and traffic was already backed up a mile.  Took the back roads to the repair shop and took their courtesy shuttle back to my place – – – a half hour after my important meeting was supposed to have ended.

So, I declare victory.  I’m staying home.  I’m writing a blog post.  I’m texting my girlfriend to come over (nope, busy at work…damn!  oh well…another time!).  I’m going to take a nap…or otherwise cocoon myself and hide from the afternoon.

As to the meeting?   I’ll find out tomorrow if I was really missed at that meeting…or if I still have a job.  And I’ll find out tomorrow how much a new fuel pump…or whatever else in the fuel system crapped out…costs to repair.

[sigh]

Roads of Death

January 13, 2009

It’s that time of year again. When the cold winds of The Wilds of Ohio bring all forms of dreaded precipitation…all usually in the same storm – – rain, freezing rain, sleet, snow, cats, dogs, locusts, etc. And, despite valiant efforts by road crews to clear them, the roads usually become festive playgrounds for cars to slip and slide about.

icy conga line of dents

icy conga line of dents

This also usually means the drivers here switch over to “Idiot Mode”. There are two main ways this manifests.

Most will start driving over-defensively… even if there is plenty of traction, this form of idiot driver will immediately slow to walking speed. And get in the left lane. And the center lane. And the right lane. Aggravating.

A few will continue driving as if nothing happened. If the speed limit is 65 miles per hour? That’s the speed they go. And they’ll weave in and out of traffic to keep going that fast.

The accidents start happening when the over-defensive driver meets the under-defensive driver. An over-defensive driving at walking speed will pull slowly into the left lane to pass an over-defensive who’s driving at crawling speed not noticing that under-defensive is ripping up behind him at 65 mph. under-defensive, unable to weave into the next lane because crawler is there, slams on the brakes. Wheeee!!!! And you thought the Ice Capades had lots of spins and turns.

Now, I do admit to occasionally letting myself slip into idiot mode. Primarily the under-defensive, go fast guy. But that’s not often. I’d LIKE to think I’m a good, defensive ice and snow driver. When I was learning to drive, I was also working at the local regional airport. Now, don’t tell anyone (shhhh), but I would sneak onto the snowy runway*, get up some speed, and purposely try and put the car out of control (braking hard, turning tightly, combinations, writing bad checks…). Then, I could see what did or didn’t work to get the car back into control. It was great practice. Especially since I wasn’t caught…

And, finally, a word about winter weather from a work perspective – – –

Trying to find the good in this, I began a tradition in our office some 10 years ago. I was, and continue to be, pleased to see new people coming into the office quickly embracing that tradition. Basically, whenever the snow started to fall, or even hint at some freezing rain in the weather reports, people will start proclaiming loudly about the office: “Roads of Death! A good supervisor who cared about his workers would send them home early!”

Some of the new kids have even embellished on this. Some are simplistic, but effective, addition of qualifiers: “Icy Roads of Death!”. Others are more elaborate, but equally effective: “Yeah, I heard that the human resource branch already sent all of their people home!” I have actually seen supervisors consider the latter, trying to decide whether to send people home safely, without checking to see if human resources really did send their people home. Great fun.

Unfortunately, rarely have I seen bosses actually send us home early. Rather, they wait until the roads ARE impassable, then make the magnanimous decision to send us home. At which time “Idiot Mode” clicks on in many heads and the roads leading away from the parking lots become parking lots themselves.

Me? I’ll have another cup of coffee and wait for the snow plows to clear a path.

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*…okay, it was a smaller airport with not a lot of traffic on good days, let alone snowy days.