Sunday, December 18, 2011

Paa(r)k the Caa(r) in Haa(r)va(r)d Yaa(r)d

Well, friends, after a long absence from D.C. Driving Blog, I have returned. I've moved from D.C. to Utah to Boston, and the driving has been pretty terrible all around. I despair that Americans will ever really know how to drive. D.C. may have the worst traffic in the nation right now, but the stress I felt from observing the stupidity of Utah Valley drivers surpassed the anxiety of traffic in D.C. That's some serious stuff. There are a lot of self-righteous people in Utah Valley who actually think they are supporting God's plan by getting boxing people in and making them drive below the speed limit. I'm not just saying that; people have born testimony of their belief they'll be saved because of their efforts in that arena. No joke.
I definitely have something to say about Boston drivers, though. I'm not exactly a world traveler, but I've been a few places, and Boston drivers are BY FAR the CRAZIEST I have EVER seen. EVER. I can't decide if I like it or hate it, though I'm pretty sure it's the latter. I've seen things here that are nothing short of insane. People turning right from the far left lane of 4 lanes of traffic (and vice versa), people driving the wrong way on a one-way, people making extra lanes where there are none or taking up two lanes for miles at a time, cars stopped in the middle of the road for no reason... And all this is on the daily. People here honk at you for following traffic laws.
I'm nannying again (although after this week, I think my job title should be "Personal Slave to the Momma's Whim"), and more that half of my time on the job is spent driving kids around Boston. A few weeks ago, after riding in the car with each of the parents (one nearly rear-ending every car we drove behind, the other nearly side-swiping every car we passed) and listening to the kids (none old enough to drive) complain about my driving, I came to the conclusion that no one in this family can criticize my driving. In fact, I kind of feel that no one in all of Boston can criticize my driving, since they've nearly killed me 2-7 times daily since I moved here in September. That's approximately 515 near-death experiences in 3 months. It's taking years off my life. You owe me, Boston. You owe me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

By Special Request: Reflections on the Pothole

Apparently, it is pothole season! I guess I never realized there was a season for them before, like they are deer or geese or elk and we're hunting them. The more likely scenario is that they are hunting us! They sneak up on you out from behind the bus, Honda or other spaz-face driven car in front of you and break your tires, your suspension and your tailbone. The DC driver finds him/herself in an interesting dilemma: do you want them (them being the ever-elusive powers that be) to fix the potholes, which they will inevitably do during rush-hour for some unknown stupid reason, and block off at least one lane of traffic (setting off the radar of every spastic driver in a twelve mile radius, causing them to choose to take that road on the day it happens, destroying your commute, your day, and maybe even your life); OR do you want them to leave the potholes there, which will continue the destruction of your car, your bone structure and your morale?

In DC (as in most cities), it is difficult to avoid potholes. Where I'm from, it's totally possible to avoid a pothole because: a) The roads are super-wide so you can avoid a pothole and still be in your own lane, b) If the road is not wide enough, there are rarely other cars around, so you can just swerve and miss the pothole, c) The other people in town also know the pothole is there and move over to make enough space on the road for everyone to avoid the pothole, and d) A lot of people drive trucks and aim for the pothole; it makes the day more interesting, ya know. In fact, some people where I'm from will spend several hours in search for the perfect pothole to drive over. Not that I would know. I would never. ;-) Also, why is it called a pot hole? Is it because it's like a hole all tripped out on pot? It is because it's like getting your tire stuck in a pot? Is it because it's like a person with a potbelly fell on the road and left a "pothole"? Why???

Anyway, back to the point: in DC, the roads may be wide, but the lanes are narrow. No one knows where the potholes are; yes, we can memorize some of them, but potholes here have superpowers and can appear and disappear and reappear in a matter of minutes. If you try to miss a pothole, it is more than likely you will hit a car, a bus, a curb, a human being or a cyclist (not included in the human being category on purpose). Also, driving a truck in the city isn't totally reasonable, so most of us have cars that really can't be driven over the pothole without serious damage. You think I exaggerate, but I do not. My friend Megan actually had to have her rear suspension replaced because one of those poor little rear spring coils just couldn't handle the severity of a pothole. Seriously. The mechanic told her, "Just avoid bumps and potholes and this won't happen." Megan says, "Thanks for the winning advice, buddy..." He has to be kidding. There are some sections of road here that are so worn down where tires go that sometimes I wonder if my car is going to bottom out on what should be a flat surface. Potholes are just one issue of many, but they are a pretty big issue.

My poor tires have had the wind knocked out of them on a few occasions by these pothole buggers. I personally think we pay enough state and local tax to have some sort of night crew that packs some asphalt into the monstrous holes while we're sleeping. Or at least while we're working. Just sayin'. Give me the asphalt and I'll do it myself! (For my commute, anyway. I can't do everyone's because at some point I'd pass out and become pothole filler myself. Nobody loves DC THAT much.) On the off chance you don't want to fix it yourself, here are some other options:

You can report a pothole in Montgomery County online here. tells you how to report a pothole in D.C.

I don't really love Virginia, so I didn't try very hard to find resources for Virginians. You'll get over it. If you're as awesome as my friend Brandon thinks you are, you'll figure it out for yourself. For Arlingtonians, try here. I know you need extra help.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lesson One: Your Driving Space--My Driving Space

Dear Vehicle Operator, I would like to introduce you to the not-so-new but oh-so-wonderful concept of the lane.

According to, the word "lane" is defined as "a longitudinally marked part of a [roadway] wide enough to accommodate one vehicle, often set off from adjacent lanes by painted lines" [emphasis added]. I realize this definition contains many words longer than seven letters, so I've linked these words to their respective definitions; if you still don't understand, please please PLEASE--I beg you--turn your license in to the nearest DMV and never drive again.

One of the main goals of each driver should be to stay in his/her own lane for the entire duration of his/her journey, so as not to encroach on another driver's driving space. While one should use his/her turn signal to indicate one is moving to an adjacent lane (adjacent means the one next to the one you're in, not three lanes over), using one's turn signal does not give one the right to move one's vehicle into a space that is already occupied by another driver and his/her motor vehicle. In this way, driving is much like a dance; each car has a frame, and if one is going to maintain the frame of one's vehicle, one must keep one's driving space separate from the driving space of others. This will help each operator maintain the frame of his/her car as well. (Yes, I just made a Dirty Dancing movie reference in a driving blog. Deal with it.)

A turning lane is a lane designated for vehicles which will be turning so they may exit a roadway with minimal effect on the flow of traffic. As such, a vehicle entering a turning lane should not slow down excessively until one has entered the turning lane if it can at all be avoided. (Yes, Buick drivers of the world, I mean you. You, too, Honda drivers. You should just assume I'm always talking to you.)

These things being defined, I have something to say: Nissan lady from Thursday, I don't believe that you "accidentally" got into the turning lane and passed a bunch of cars that were legitimately waiting at a light and then realized it was a turning lane and needed to cut me off; your Maryland plates with "Bethesda" frames are a pretty good indicator you're familiar with the area. You're little innocent face and shrugging shoulders don't fool me. Just be aware that karma is a bigger biotch than you are, and she'll get you when you least expect it *ahem*flat tire*. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Waste Services

Let us discuss for a moment [insert fanfare here] The Garbage Truck... I grew up in a small town on a street that is considered an alley; therefore, if we wanted our garbage picked up from the "curb", we had to pay extra (I put "curb" in quotations because we didn't really have a curb. We had gravel.). As a result, my parents decided that having five kids had to have its perks (right?), and promptly put my siblings and I to work taking our waste to the dump in the family truck. (Well, not so much me at first. I wasn't really of driving age until thirteen years after moving into that house.) It worked well for us and saved plenty of money, I'm sure. Money that went directly into keeping the five of us clothed, fed and sometimes even bathed. =) I kid. Sort of.

Flash forward to 2002: I'm in college, and I discover the magic of putting the can at the curb in the morning before school/work and coming home to an emptied bin you can drag back up your driveway and fill again. This is what I call progress.

Jump to 2009: I move to Maryland and am introduced to the wonder that is recycling. Now I not only have a great trash can with wheels to cart back and forth, but a big blue can with wheels for paper products and a smaller bin for plastic and glass. I feel a little bit like I've digressed, because now I'm sorting my own trash, and I'm starting to feel like I work for waste management, instead of the other way around... But I enjoy feeling like I can make a difference for the environment (even though some argue this is an illusion and most of the things I put in the recycling bin end up in a landfill, anyway).

Present day: I realize now that garbage trucks are the bane of my existence. As I leave my house for work this morning, I hear the garbage truck coming up the road. Last week they parked at the foot of my driveway and stayed there for a few minutes, though it was obvious I was trying to leave, so today I book it out of my driveway in the opposite direction to avoid them. I think I'm in the clear, but I've got another think coming. As turn the corner onto the next street, another garbage truck is coming towards me and there are cars parked on both sides of the road. There's not room for both of us, so I try to move over enough to let this garbage-truck driving fool go past. I figure he's not going to stop, because I saw him coming for over a block, and surely he would have stopped already, right? Wrong. This man drives his big fat truck to the very center of the road, where he's sure I can't possibly get past him, and not only parks it, but then gets out of the truck and starts walking up driveways without actually collecting trash. I'm more than annoyed at this point, and he's looking pretty smug. He apparently thinks I'm just going to wait for him to do whatever pointless thing it is that he's doing, but he's just as wrong as I was when I thought he would keep driving like an actual human being. I maneuver my car between his astronomically sized truck and a few bins, nearly knocking one bin over, but it rocks back into place as I pass. I look in my rearview mirror to see him standing by the side of the road looking shocked I've managed to escape. Haha! Until we meet again, Garbage Man!

As I continue down the street, a cyclist comes careening around the corner on my side of the road and nearly hits me head-on, which would be a problem for him in and of itself, but I imagine the damage would be at least quadrupled by the fact that he is not wearing a helmet. Luckily I slam on my brakes and he swerves in time, but seriously? All this and I've not yet made it out of my sub-division. In fact, I'm no more than two blocks from home. It's tempting to just turn around and go home, but that would mean the same two garbage trucks and kamikaze cyclist all over again. I guess I'll go to work.
On the plus side, no nose-pickers today! (Knock on wood...)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


It's no news that the DC Metro Area has traffic congestion that is out of this world; anyone who has set foot (or tire) in our nation's fair capital knows this sad fact. I just don't think traffic here has to be nearly as bad as it is!

Let me give you a little background: I hail from Central Utah (or Southern Utah, if you're from Salt Lake City, and you think anything south of you is considered Southern--which it's not, BTW). I grew up in a magical land where you can see for a hundred miles and drive for even longer without spotting another vehicle, with the exception of maybe a train or a tractor. Despite this fact, when driving, I was always taught to be very aware; you never know when a rogue deer, cow, antelope or big-rig will cross your path without warning.
Now, I understand that such a pleasant scenario is ridiculously unrealistic for an area as densely populated as D.C. What I want to know is: how is it that here, in an area overrun by millions of motorists, pedestrians and the ever-hated cyclist, people think it is okay to go on autopilot and be completely ignorant of everything but the six square-feet area immediately in front of their faces (if that)? That's not even your whole windshield, friends. And remember the other three sides of your car? Don't you want to keep those intact and as shapely as the day your car left the factory floor, too? Last Friday alone I saw three bumpers detached from their respective homes, and one of those detachments was witnessed in person. Is anyone else as disturbed by that little tidbit as I am?

And another thing, just because you are stuck in traffic alone in your car does NOT mean that you are invisible! Yes, I mean you, lady in the van in my rearview mirror who picked your nose AND ATE IT this morning on Old Georgetown Road. I SAW you, you nasty hag! At least have the decency to wipe it under your seat or flick it out the window. I don't want to see you relish it for the full five minutes we're stuck for two cycles at the same traffic light.

In other news, I hate Hondas. Why, you ask? Well, because, 90% of the time if there is a car in front of me pissing me off (pardon the chromatics), it is a freaking HONDA. For those who are curious about the other 10%--- 5% of it is Toyotas, 4% would be luxury cars and 1% is reserved for everyone else. Stupid DC Metro buses and vans are a category of their own and can't really be qualified as vehicles so much as weapons of mass destruction. (I'm sure you'll hear more from me about Hondas later.)

So, this little blog will be dedicated to helping me vent my angst about driving in the DC Metro Area. For those of you who live here, you can read and commiserate. Those of you who don't live here can read and be grateful you only have your village idiot to worry about, and not the world-class, life-sucking, poopy drivers of D.C. I can practically hear you laughing and saying, "Suckers!" from here.

P.S. Just saw ANOTHER person pick his nose and eat it in his car outside my office window. REALLY?