Baby you can drive my car

big-golf-cart

The move to Atlanta, Georgia (pop = 5.7 million) in 2006 from Cincinnati, Ohio (pop = 2.1 million.) in 2006 wasn’t easy. While not as drastic as, say, moving to Los Angeles, California (pop = 18.5 million) from South Point, Ohio (pop = 4000), it was still a shock.

AGMA’s always lived in smaller, friendlier cities. Cities that are easy to navigate. Cities where, for the most part, drivers are courteous. Cities that have defined, relatively short rush hours.

My first six months in Atlanta were traumatic. This was before Google Maps. And I didn’t have a GPS unit. I couldn’t seem to naviagate the roads, the heavy traffic was intimidating and people drove batsh*t crazy.

I ended up only going out in my car between the hours of 10 AM and 2 PM.

This did not make for a seamless, joyful integration into my new home city.

Then one day, I got a “hobby job”.

Hobby Job (HJ) = an interesting, fun job with fun people that pays minimum wage. You’d better have somebody else paying the rent…

My HJ forced me out onto the Atlanta roads before 10 AM and after 2 PM.

You remember that old saying, “I you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”…. Well – AGMA joined them. I got brave and bold.

Just in time to have my car totaled by another driver. On the interstate. At 50 mph.

Other than some bruising and minor whiplash, I was fine. Bluie, my first Prius, wasn’t.

A lesser AGMA would have thrown in the towel, curled up in a fetal position and gone back to the 10 AM – 2PM protocol. But no. I got my new Prius, Goldie (are you seeing the theme…?) and got right back into the saddle. Or the bucket seat.

For better or worse, I was becoming an Atlanta driver.

Fast forward to 2016. I go out driving any damn time I want. Speed limits and traffic signals…merely suggestions. Going the wrong way? Just do a U-turn in the middle of the road. Zipping in and out of lanes to jockey for a better position in traffic. And don’t even think of trying to cut in on me…

Survival of the fittest. That’s the tagline of Atlanta driving.

I don’t really notice how “assertive” my driving has gotten until I’m back in one of those smaller cities I used to live in. I notice that people are actually driving the speed limit. And people don’t consider the berm as an extra lane. And there is a lot less honking.

People living in those cities complain about their traffic. I just laugh at them. “Traffic?? You don’t know what real traffic is….”

Tora, Tora, Tora!

But every now and then, something happens to remind AGMA she needs to dial it down a notch. Or two. Or three.

Earlier this week, I got behind an “elderly” driver. I realize that the term “elderly “ is relative. And 18 year old would consider me, AGMA,  an elderly driver. Ouch.

My 32 year old son calls them Geezers. I think that’s a better term. A Geezer can be any age although the vast majority of Geezers are up in years.

This guy I was behind was the classic Geezer. Driving a big old Chrysler 15 mph on a 30 mph road. Most people go 40 mph on that road. Coming to a complete stop before making a turn. Seriously?? Slowing down for a stop sign 100 feet before the sign. Keep in mind he’s already going 15 mph. And then actually coming to a complete stop.

Total Geezer.

“It’s a good thing I’m not in a hurry or I’d lay on my horn.” I huffed.

He stopped – very, very slowly – at a stop sign that dead ended our road onto a very busy road. Right turn only. There was an opening and I saw him slowly pulling out. I turned to look at traffic and saw there was another opening. I pressed the accelerator.

You know what’s coming.

Yup – AGMA hit his bumper. Turns out he decided not to turn and stopped again.

He was obviously flustered by my bumping him. He turn onto the road right in front of a big truck who laid on his horn but thankfully pulled into the other lane. I was holding my breath as I watched.

Mr. Geezer pulled into the closest parking lot and got out to inspect his bumper. I pulled in, expecting to be yelled at (as is the Atlanta way), and possibly give him my insurance information.

AGMA didn’t expect what actually happened…

He smiled a big ol’ sweet smile at me and said, “Don’t worry. There’s no damage. This dent here was already there.” He was charming and lovely and didn’t try to scam me for his already damaged car.

I was stunned and humbled.

AGMA apologized profusely. He assured me he has bumped other people’s bumpers in the past so he understands. No doubt. I asked if he was okay. He said yes.

Then he thanked me for stopping.

I assured him that I always stopped when I hit somebody. Which very rarely happens I added quickly.

He smiled that sweet,lovely smile at me and said., “I think what you’re trying to say is that you always try to do the right thing.”

Gulp.  AGMA was ashamed for labeling him.

We said our goodbyes and as he pulled out onto the busy road, he cut off a car.  They laid on their horn.

I said a prayer of safety for him.

And a prayer for me to be a bit more tolerant. Maybe a lot more tolerant.

And for AGMA to know when it is time to give up the car keys before Geezerdom is in full force.

I hear golf carts are loads of fun!

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29 thoughts on “Baby you can drive my car

  1. Hahaha … love this. The same thing happened to me, only she claimed her back and neck hurt. This all happened at about 3 miles an hour. She wouldn’t leave until the police came. When he got there, he inspected both cars, saw no damage on either vehicle and told her to be on her way. She argued, but he just gave her that “cop” look. I really expected something further to come of it, but luckily it did not. Your old man was not of this era.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s nice to hear a good story about a traffic encounter. They are rare. I used to be one of those folks who flip people off if I felt violated. I no longer do that. I am older, more patient, and very aware that a lot of folks are packing heat today. It’s just not worth the risk. I smile and let them do their thing, mostly. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    • Especially in Georgia – they are definitely packing heat down here! I went to a seminar on safety for runners given by a retired cop and somehow it morphed to driving safety. His advice was never make eye contact and don’t flash your headlights at somebody who’s being a jerk.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. In the East Tennessee city where I live now, there are as many people over 65 as there are under 18, which qualifies a good chunk of my fellow citizens here as old geezers. But even us old farts have trouble keeping under the speed limit of 35 mph on the main drag occasionally, which is why we’re all thankful the city removed the traffic cams!
    As a native Angeleno, I can attest that the traffic jams, at least, in Atlanta are comparable to those in L.A., though I don’t have enough first hand experience driving in bit ATL to evaluate the craziness of the drivers there in comparison to my hometown. I was shocked to discover, on my first drive down there from Nashville, how different the drivers were in comparison between those two large Southern cities. Specifically I mean the “charming” (read infuriating) custom I observed in my early years in the South, that of allowing space for someone to turn out of a driveway into traffic EVEN THOUGH THAT “CONSIDERATE” ACT HOLDS UP A WHOLE LINE OF CARS BEHIND THE VERY POLITE SOUTHERNER! Worst case, I have seen this “kindness” cause more near accidents than any other.
    I have heard recently that Nashville is becoming a lot like Los Angeles. If I was still living and driving in Music City, I would say “It’s about time!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the traffic in Atlanta is as bad as LA – it (LA) just covers a smaller geographical area. I drove from Cincinnati, OH to LA back in 2005 to bring my son to live with a friend for the summer. He had an internship out there. Once I hit the greater LA area, it took me an hour to get to my friends’ house near LAX. When I got there, I curled up in a fetal position. Then I had a few stiff drinks.

      I drive through Nashville maybe twice a year and traffic is getting really bad there compared to the early 2000’s. My son went to Vanderbilt so we were there quite a bit. Now, it’s like a little Atlanta!

      And good news (or bad news depending…) – the drivers in Atlanta aren’t nearly a courteous now so you can grow old and die waiting for somebody to let you in the flow of traffic.

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  4. There have been several times when I have driven on the freeways from Atlanta Airport all the way to Murphy, North Carolina. I fear for my life. It seems to me that Georgia drivers are trying to run over anyone in front of them. I am elderly, but I am not a Geezer. I usually try to stay within 5 miles of the speed limit, but in Georgia, I am forced to drive faster just to get out of the way of charging drivers. Good luck to you in your driving adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! And you are so right about the speed limit. If you actually go the speed limit on the interstate, you get eaten alive! They are freakin’ nuts! At least I always try to use my turn signal when I change lanes and I make sure I’m in the right lane for the exit (or avoid the exit only lanes if I don’t want to exit), which is way more than 80% of the driver down here do! I have been known to drive 10 minutes out of my way just to avoid a nasty freeway entrance where I have to move over 3 lanes in a short distance to get into the right lane. Better 10 minutes late than dead, I always say….

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    • Thanks!! And you are so right about the speed limit thing… The drivers chew you up and spit out if you try to go the speed limit!

      At least I use my turn signals (a novel idea for most ATL drivers) and get into the correct lanes for exiting or not exiting (meaning I’m not in the “exit only” lane if I don’t intend to exit) which is also a novelty. I have been known to drive 10 minutes out of my way to avoid a particularly difficult interstate entrance that might involve having to move over 3 lanes in a relatively short distance. Better 10 minutes late than dead, I always say…

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  5. I got quite a chuckle out of this post—I went to school in Atlanta for two years back in the ’60s—and identify with the “Geezers”. In Florida we called them “Cotton Heads” because that was all that you could see of them above the car seats. As an aging Geezer-Prius driver myself I, too, tend to stay off the roads during morning and evening commute times.
    Have a great day (if you haven’t already).
    Ω

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your comment and welcome to AGMA!! And it has been a great day so far – thanks again!

      I never hear the term “cotton heads” before and I love it! I’m more a “salt n peppa” head but the day is coming… And yes – if at all possible, I try to avoid the worst of the commute hours (although those hours are difficult to figure out…) If I do have to drive during the 15 hours of “rush hour” we have every day, I try to leave plenty of time to get there (or get back) so I don’t become one of those raging lunatics honking at everybody, and swerving in and out of traffic. You know – the typical Atlanta driver.

      But it does take some amount of courage to get out in the fray no matter when it is… Ha!

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      • Hey, Y’all—I’ve been waiting to say that to somebody—thanks for the reply. I look forward to reading about life in Hotlanta. I was back there last year for a short visit and enjoyed it tremendously.
        Ω

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