Posts Tagged ‘driving’

I was travelling to New York with my mom to see my sister.  I had been to her house once before, but I had printed MapQuest directions that took me through a roller coaster of back roads that made no sense.

This time, I was going to use my Garmin GPS.

I hardly use it.  I am a man.  I KNOW where I am going.  I also don’t travel much.  I can find my office, the surgical center, and McDonald’s without the help of 21st century technology.


Now my mom has made this trip multiple times–even having driven it herself for years before ministrokes and poor reflexes led to her losing her license.

As we passed Tyrone, she points.

“Isn’t that where you should have turned off to go to Philipsburg?”

First of all, even if it was, pointing to it after we have passed the exit isn’t helpful.  And secondly, it was not the exit we wanted.  She was off by one.  Close but no cigar.

Now because I don’t use my GPS very often, I actually had to spend a fair amount of time to find it.  The charge was dead so I recharged it.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the car charger that plugs into the lighter so I would have to depend on a fully charged unit lasting me 3 hours.  I didn’t look all that hard figuring it would last a three hour tour with Gilligan, mom and the doctor too, and I had more important things to do before I left like watching Penn State lose to Temple for the first time in 74 years.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

The GPS died just as we entered Bradford, PA.  My sister lives across the border.  We are probably twenty minutes or less from her house.  But this is the most critical 20 minutes of the whole trip–it is the final set of turns and roads that I am not familiar with.

If I had known the battery wouldn’t last, I would have waited till I got here to turn it on.

If I knew Penn State was going to play like crap, I would have left three hours earlier.  The damned GPS would still have died, but at least it wouldn’t be dark out.

I pulled off to the side of the road.  I was going to throw a Hail Mary.  I was hoping the cord to connect it to the cigarette lighter was in the glove box.  I was pretty sure it wasn’t but I was desperate.  I didn’t even have the bad directions from MapQuest.

“I know how to get there,” my mom insists.

This from the woman who would have had me get off the wrong exit two and a half hours ago if she had pointed sooner and I was an idiot that didn’t know where I was going.

I don’t know where I am going right now, and I can’t find the car charger.  Kettle meet pot.  I am an idiot.

So at 10:30 at night, on a remote stretch of highway, I am going to let my 78 year old mom guide me.

What’s below idiot?

So I cautiously get back on the road thinking we are never going to get there.  Maybe I should just call my sister and have her give directions.  With my luck, the phone would die.  And that option would entail me having to give her meaningful landmarks of where we were (um, it’s a dark road, with some dark trees, does that help?) and hoping that she could guide us in for a safe landing.  She’s had benign brain tumors–three craniotomies, two gamma knives and a radiation treatment in a pear tree.

I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque.

So down the road of perdition I go.  As I come up to an exit, marked with a flashing light, I stop.  I have the yellow flashes; I don’t need to stop.  Fortunately there is no traffic behind me.  I am pretty sure this was the next target destination according to the GPS before it died.  It’s final words so to speak.

Rosebud.  Or I-86/Rte. 17.  Something like that.

I look at my mom.

She looks at me.

Abbot and Costello have nothing on us.  I almost want to ask her “Who’s on first?”

Instead I ask, “Are we supposed to turn here?”

She looks around.  This is quite an ordeal, because of arthritis in her neck.

“Yes,” she finally replies.

“And when were you going to tell me that?  If I didn’t stop here, we’d be past it before you told me.”

So this is how it went.  Every intersection, I had to come to a stop and ask if we were supposed to turn here or not.

At one point, we come to an intersection with only three roads.  You can go straight or right.

“Go left,” she says.

There isn’t a road to the left.  There is someone’s house.  I’m sure they don’t want me to drive through their lawn.

“You mean right?”  I am so optimistic she will correct herself.  I also thought Penn State would win.

“No left,” she insists.  (She knows where she is going!  She has insisted this to me several times now, probably because I am questioning her choices and my sanity. I am beginning to have my doubts.)

I point out that I can’t turn left.  She looks.  Another ordeal.  It looks painful.

Then, she looks the other way and points (to the right,) “go left.”


We did eventually make it to my sister’s house.  God only knows how this was accomplished.  But score a victory for the Geriatric Pointing System.

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I saw this sign along a highway cautioning drivers not to text and drive . . .

But maybe they should be more specific . . .

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Note:  I do not carry Progressive Auto Insurance, am not a spokesperson for the company and have received no financial incentive for this post.  Further, no automobiles, name-your-own-price tools or annoying Flo’s were injured in the creation of this post.  Thank you.

After hearing a Progressive Insurance commercial for the one millionth time ( I might be exaggerating, but probably not), I was finally intrigued enough to do some research on this Snapshot Discount thingy they keep promoting to save me money.

Seriously folks, what kind of company really wants to save you money?  Taking your money is how they make money.  It’s like the government, but the IRS doesn’t have to advertise.

So after a thorough Google search, I found this review from a year ago–hey, I never promised you timely information.  I never promised you anything, for that matter.  But I digress.

According to this source, the way the Snapshot gizmo works is to track your miles, when you are driving, and how many “hard brakes” you do while driving.  Now hasn’t that cleared everything up for you?

Time of day: The reason Progressive tracks what time of day you is simple: if you drive during peak hours for accidents, such as between midnight and 4 a.m., the likelihood you’ll get in an accident is much higher than if you drive during off-peak hours. If the majority of your driving is during less accident-prone hours, you may see a larger discount.

Miles driven: Many insurance companies ask drivers to supply this data, meaning that drivers track their own mileage and report that amount. Because Progressive tracks mileage digitally through the Snapshot device, the chance of an accident can be better predicted. The general idea is that the more miles you drive, the more likely you’ll get into  an accident.

Hard brakes: A hard brake is when the car’s speed decreases at a rate greater than 7 mph per second. More hard brakes per day may indicate less cautious driving. Progressive will give higher discounts to drivers with fewer hard brakes.

The more miles you drive the more likely you’ll get into an accident?  I have taken that logic one step further.  The more time you spend on the road, the more likely you are to be in an accident.  So go faster so that you get there faster.  You’ll be off the road faster and less likely to get hit.

I still have no idea what that hard brake means.  I run about 7 mph.  I can stop in less than a second.  That doesn’t sound like very much to me–in other words, I probably commit more hard brakes pulling into my garage than any discount they would allow.  And is it really my fault if some idiot pulls out in front of me?  Isn’t a hard brake better and more cost-effective for my insurance company than plowing into said idiot?  I should be rewarded for that kind of attention and reflexes.

Is it really worth a few bucks for someone I don’t know, in an office somewhere I don’t go, to know how often I am in my car, when I’m in my car, and how badly I might be driving?

Honestly, I thought the thing would track speed as well.  Maybe it does and they don’t tell you that.  Maybe they have GPS capabilities–and they don’t tell you that.  They promise they won’t give out the information to anyone else, but how do we know that?  Do I sound paranoid?  Why are you reading this anyway?  Who are you?  How did you get here?  I’m not paranoid, but I’m not sure I like the tone of your questions?

I also thought that with the way I drive, I’d probably not only not get a discount, but they would make me pay more.  According to what I’ve read, that is not true.  But you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet, except for this sentence of course.

And having that little transmitter in the car would kind of creep me out.  It would be like having Flo sitting right there with me, riding shotgun.

The face only an insurance company could love.
At least she’s not a Gecko.
I wouldn’t drive with a Gecko in my car.
I’m not a Geckophobe. It’s more a religious thing. Or not.

So do you have a Snapshot thingy in your car, and have you seen up to 30% in savings?

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A Park in the Walk

Last Sunday, being Easter, parking spaces near our church were at a premium.  I’m not the world’s best parallel parker to begin with.  I desperately need a Focus.  But I did finally manage to squeeze my jeep into a parking space big enough for a Cadillac.  I only went up on the curb twice.  But in the end, it was a passable park job and hopefully no one else was watching.

As we were leaving church to go home, though, we saw this parking fail.

His other car is a Ford Focus.

I don’t feel so bad after all.

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Most people are familiar with Sigmund Freud and his impact on the world of psychiatry.  But not many people have heard of Sigmund Ford, Henry Ford’s estranged and imaginary brother who psychoanalyzed the personality of American drivers.

The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.  ~Dave Barry, “Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn”

But you needn’t travel far on any road, anywhere, before you encounter a psychotic driver, a neurotic driver, a passive-aggressive driver, a Callaway Driver, or any other plethora of psychiatric illness drivers.  For me, it’s about half a mile from my home when I drive by Wal-Mart.  For some reason, that place attracts neurotic drivers like a flame draws moths. 

Some would argue it occurs much sooner than that . . .  like when I get into the car.  For the record, I am an assertive driver–not an aggressive driver.  The basic difference is that assertive drivers know what they are doing.  An aggressive driver is the other guy.

It takes 8,460 bolts to assemble an automobile, and one nut to scatter it all over the road.  ~Author Unknown

This should be standard equipment on all cars!

So there I am going to work.  I am late.  I’m a doctor, so that is expected of me.  If I could have left earlier I wouldn’t be late now, would I?  I’m driving along, minding my own business, probably violating a traffic law or two if not a couple of Laws of Physics as well, when I come to the traffic light at Wal-Mart.  I have a green light ,which to those of us that do not suffer mental illness, means I have the right-of-way.  At the crossing intersection, there is a lane for drivers going straight from Wal-Mart or turning left.  Those cars now have a red light.  There is a right hand turning lane that is marked with a YIELD sign.  Mentally challenged drivers have no idea what this sign means.  It is written in some foreign language and it never applies to them.

So Case Study #1 in Sigmund Ford’s treatise on Driving Personalities, proceeds to enter traffic in front of me . . . right in front of me . . . going up on two wheels as they careen and the centripetal force lifts their car off the road surface.  I don’t have a radar gun, but I estimate they must have been doing about fifty.  Anything less, and they would have hit me.

But then a funny thing occurs.  Their right foot goes numb, comes off the accelerator, and the vehicle slows down to 25 mph.  For all I know, they are completely paralyzed on the right side.  Their right foot might have fallen off and rolled back under the seat.  They are smoking but this is not a specific clinical clue to any specific disorder. It is commonly seen in slow erratic drivers and is probably due to shortness of breath on exertion.  They can’t breathe well at high speeds.

The posted speed limit on this road is 40.  There are two lanes going in my direction but alas, there is traffic in the other lane.  These are the people who always travel in the left lane, even though they are generally not passing anyone or making a left hand turn within the next 20 miles.  They just hang out there because it makes them feel comfortable.  They are right brain people who are drawn to the left side.  Maybe they are British.  They might have a turn signal blinking (does it really matter which one since we all know they are not turning anywhere soon) and they are almost always on the phone.  Again, phone calls and texting are not specific to any driving disorder, but they are frequently seen in association with a variety of driving illnesses.

I am now tailgating this Case Study, primarily because my antilock brakes have prevented me from joining them in their beat up Oldsmobile, and because the traffic behind me is trying to do the same.

Natives who beat drums to drive off evil spirits are objects of scorn to smart Americans who blow horns to break up traffic jams.  ~Mary Ellen Kelly

I see a flicker in the rear view mirror of Case Study #1.  Not enough to tell you her eye color, but enough to know that she is now aware of my presence.  She has signalled that I am number one, but her choice of appendages is unusual. 

Now it was certainly possible that she could not see me before she pulled out into traffic.  Maybe she has lost vision to that side.  She could have a brain tumor or a stroke.  I may be having a stroke at this very minute thanks to her.  If visually impaired, she shouldn’t be driving, but let me tell you this as an ophthalmologist who has been practicing for 17 years:  POOR VISION IS NOT A DETERRENT TO DRIVING.  Some of the people with the worst vision are the most insistent that they are still SAFE DRIVERS.

I only drive to church and the store.  I don’t recommend you join their church or shop at that store.

One woman, who couldn’t even read the big E (that’s worse than 20/400 and in case you were wondering that would make her legally blind) begged in tears with me not to report her to the DOT because she could still drive safely.  I pointed out that she couldn’t read street signs.  She agreed, but she didn’t need to.  She KNEW where she was going.  Don’t we all?  I asked her what she would do if there was road construction and a detour.  Like that’s never happened!   Sometimes I think they just set those orange barrels up alongside the road because they have nowhere to store them.

With a perfectly straight face and with all honesty in her little heart, she told me that she had a friend that rode with her and her “friend” read the street signs for her!  (I know what you are thinking.  Why doesn’t the friend do the driving?  It’s because her friend is disabled and not able to physically manage driving.)

A sad situation really, but I digress.

I don’t think the problem here was visual.  And now that I have seen her beady little eyes in her mirror, I know that she knows that I’m here.  And she knows that I know that she knows that I am here.

There is a little burst of speed.  She suffers intimacy issues and does not want me on her bumper.

I speed  up as well.  She slows down.  More evil glares in the rear view mirror.  Smoke is coming out her nostrils.  Well, she is smoking after all.  It’s hard to tell, but it might be coming out her ears.

So let’s recap.  She pulls out in front of me.  She proceeds to then go slower than me.  And this is my fault?  In psychology, this is called transference.  She is transferring her feelings of anxiety and poor driving onto me.

This is not unusual.  There appear to be many people on the road that are in a hurry to get in front of you–but not in a hurry to go anywhere once this goal is achieved.  Had I been able to pass her, we could have determined whether or not she also suffered passive-aggressive driving personality disorder.  These poor wretches will accelerate as soon as you try to pass them.  The surest way to slow them down is to pull in behind them.

Unfortunately for Case Study #1, there is no effective treatment.  The condition is often terminal–eventually they will pull out in front of the wrong person.  Horn honking is typically ineffective and in fact, often produces adverse effects, including even slower driving (worsening of the right-sided paralysis,) seizure activity in the form of random and often obscene gesturing, and significant glaring.  Sigmund Ford wanted to try electroconvulsive shock therapy for this condition, but it is still waiting FDA approval.

* Driving Quotes from QuoteGarden.

* Image from I am an aggressive driver, I admit it.

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