Car Wars

“Hey look, that driver is waving at you, but he’s only using one finger.”

My dearest aunt, who is 91 years old and no longer drives, asked me to drive her to a medical appointment.

To a 91-year-old, getting out of the house, even if only for a doctor’s appointment, makes their day. The way she talked about it, it was if she were going on a journey. I was surprised she didn’t bring luggage.

Anyway, I picked her up and off we went. Traffic was very heavy that day and I was forced to drive a little more aggressively than usual. Needless to say, I bent a couple of road rules along the way.

As it would happen, I didn’t yield or merge or yerge or mield or whatever it is you’re supposed to do when you see one of these bothersome road signs. Personally, I always thought a yield sign meant ‘hurry up and merge.’ So, in very thick traffic, I abruptly zipped into the traffic flow. My auntie was not amused.

“My dear, dear boy!” (Translation: You stupid, stupid boy). “You’re not supposed to do that.” (Translation: You are an idiot!).

“I have to get a little aggressive auntie to get you there on time.” I replied.

“If you don’t get me to an early grave first.”

To be sure, a “Merge” sign is very important as it indicates that two lanes of traffic must blend into one. This is a very important road sign because the laws of physics clearly state that two cars cannot occupy the same space at the same time – unless of course, you’re in parallel universes.

Now, my aunt has always been a little apprehensive when it came to my driving. You see, as a teenager I developed a “reputation” of being a bit uncultivated behind the wheel.

OK true, but back then, like most other testosterone toxic teenaged twits, only three of the cars’ controls seemed to matter to me; the gas pedal, the steering wheel and volume control on the radio.

As for things like signal indicators, hazard lights and this pedal thing on the floor that, from what it says in the manual, will actually make the car slow down, well…

Traffic was heavier than usual as I checked my rear and side view mirrors for an opportunity. I needed to make a lane change to get over to my exit. All I needed was the smallest gap so that I could nose my car in. I seized the first opportunity, swiftly butting my car into the next lane to the dismayed honk of another driver.

“Oh my gawd!” my auntie gushed. “Only crazy people do things like that. Have you completely lost your mind?”

“But I had plenty of room auntie.” I pleaded.

“You may think so, but that driver is waving at you – and he’s only using one finger.” She retorted. “You didn’t even signal.”

My aunt comes from the old school of driving – the one where they still give right away to horse drawn carts and always use their signal indicator. If you’re not sure what that is, it’s that annoying little doo-hicky thing attached to the steering column that seems to be related to that irritating little green arrow light that flashes on your dash display.

In defence of my failure to signal, years ago while commuting daily into Toronto, I learned that while negotiating bumper-to-bumper traffic, it was better not to signal your intent. If you do, all the other drivers immediately know what you’re up to and they’ll close up all the gaps.

“Stop him!” They’ll shout in their cars as they point accusingly at you. “He’s trying to make a lane change!” Then, gnashing their teeth in anger, they’ll all squeeze together, pretend not to notice you and you wont get to exit until you’re 250 miles down the road, in Detroit!

If you want to get anywhere in heavy traffic, it’s best to take the other drivers by surprise with a swift, spur-of-the-moment lane change. Seriously, in the rare occurrence when the traffic gods smile upon you and some guy actually lets you in, it doesn’t mean he’s a nice guy. It probably means he wasn’t paying attention.

Anyway, as we neared the doctors’ office, it seemed that every car on the road was in an awful hurry. Then, a traffic light turned yellow as one, two, three and finally our car zipped through the intersection as I watched the light change to red.

“To think, I survived a Nazi occupation in World War II but it will be a trip to the doctors in 2013 that will be the end of me.”

“Oh auntie, it’s not so bad.” I defended.

“Oh nothing!” She argued. “I shouldn’t have had that bran muffin for breakfast because now, because of your maniacal driving, things are moving. There’s a Denny’s, I’m going to need a pit stop.”

I stopped and my aunt went inside.

These days, we modern day road warriors must battle for every inch of pavement we can get. Courteous driving only bewilders the other drivers. Trust me, it’s better if you just yell, flip them the bird and then try to run them off the road.

Anyways, I got my aunt to her appointment expediently and safely, if you don’t count her elevated blood pressure. It seems that my aunt’s blood pressure was a bit on the high side when her doctor checked.

Auntie said the doctor was pleased with her over all condition, but was a bit concerned about her high blood pressure – not to mention the pale, wild-eyed look of terror on her face. My aunt assured him that she was fine and it was merely her choice of chauffeurs. Her blood pressure will abate next time when she takes the bus.

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