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Car Troubles

When I used to occasionally rent a car in San Francisco I would make a vain attempt to drive through the city, have a nervous breakdown, and the next day give kudos to everyone I knew in SF who owned — and drove — a car. I used to get a kick out of driving, even back in high school when my only choice of vehicles were the giant blue Ford station wagon (affectionately named "The Boat"&#41 or the brown and red 1973 AMC Matador station wagon (which was simply called "The Matador"&#41. The Matador was the one I was stuck with most frequently. It had windshield wipers that only worked once in a blue moon, a hole in the floor of the passenger's side (conveniently hidden by the floormat&#41, a driver's side door that stuck so bad that you had to kick it open to get out and then kick it closed again. It guzzled gas like nobody's business. It required a dose of dry gas every other day, especially in the winter. It embarrassed me by making my clothes smell like exhaust fumes.

But enough moseying down Nightmare Car From Hell Memory Lane…now I've got a new car and evidently all the stress that goes along with being a full-time driver. I have discovered that I definitely have the symptoms of Road Rage. Why all the anger, you ask? For one thing, people here drive fast. Though the speed limit on the highway is 65, there is rarely anyone going 65 or 70 (except for me, of course&#41 — 85 or 90 is more like it. Even when not on the highway, people like to tailgate if the person driving in front of them is going anywhere near the vicinity of the speed limit. Where do these people think we are, the straightaway stretches of a Wyoming highway? 65 MPH on a back road of West Hartford where there are traffic lights, not to mention the threat of a hyperactive squirrel scurrying out in front of the car at any moment, I might add, is just too damn fast for me. Source of Rage: the leadfoot drivers who get pissed at me for driving at or 5 miles above the posted speed limit.

While these people are pretending to be the stars of the Indy 500, they often like to throw trash out their car windows. Perhaps they are trying to make their vehicle a little lighter, hence faster; I'm not quite sure. I recently followed a woman on the highway who was going about 75 MPH. White things kept flying out of her open window towards my car. As I got closer to her, I could see her dabbing at her eyes with tissues while looking in the rearview mirror, then throwing the tissues out her window. She must have — and I kid you not — gone through half of a box of Kleenex, one by one. Source of Rage: a.&#41 I'm no Save The Earth fanatic, but Jesus! Just because your car is no longer littered with 3-month-old soda cups and assorted candy bar wrappers doesn't mean the trash itself has disappeared. No one's following you around picking it up either. No, there are no "people for that." and b.&#41 When you throw things out your window, they then come flying towards my window, placing me directly in the 4-Car Pileup Just Waiting To Happen camp. Well, ya better bring some marshmallows, honey, 'cuz the tissues that don't make it out your window and instead fly into your backseat and start swirling around and blocking your view out the back window will help put you right next to me at the 4-Car Pileup Just Waiting To Happen campfire.

 I've saved the best for last: the highway systems of the Greater Hartford area. There are no straight parts of the highway roads here. Every ramp onto or off of the highway proper is a hairpin turn; consequently, you either have to enter the highway at 30 MPH, or risk loss of life and/or limb by taking the on/off-ramp on two wheels at a speed closer to the speed that those leadfoot drivers are going to be going once you get onto I-84. Additionally, every lane on the highway serves a different purpose: one is for people going to 91 South, one is for the people going to 91 North, one is for the people staying on I-84 East or West, and the other is, of course, an Exit Only Lane. You literally need to be in the correct lane within 30 seconds of getting onto the highway or, to put it bluntly, you're fucked. If you want to get to I-84, which is the farthest left lane, and you, of course having just entered onto the highway are in the farthest right lane, you sure as hell better get over there right quick. Of course, not only are you in the wrong lane, the majority of everyone else is also in the wrong lane, and everyone's going 80, and some people are panicking and swerving because they're in the Exit Only lane, and so on.

I have found this strict one-lane-for-one-purpose theory of building roads to be true throughout the area. There is a relatively new big-ass mall in Manchester which has been turned into the Center of the Universe for Shopping — Connecticut Chapter by having every single mega-store in existence (WalMart, Home Depot, Borders, PetCo, Big KMart, Bernie's, Christmas Tree Shop, Marshalls, Circuit City, etc.&#41 each build an outpost around the mall itself. All of these stores are connected by an intricate spiderweb of service roads which, if you drive around long enough, are supposed to connect you, the gentle shopper, with all of the stores. Each and every time we go there we end up in the wrong lane, or turn down the wrong road, or get on the highway by accident, or fail to get on the highway at all, causing us to drive several extra miles trying to find a place to turn around, or all of the above in one single trip. This doesn't include the time and energy spent cursing the Buckland Hills Mall Development People for not putting up better signs or maybe even a map, for god's sake, or the Buckland Hills-induced arguments-turned-shouting matches between Avery and me over which lane is the correct lane to get to the Bernie's part of the complex, or where the hell PetCo even is ("It's near the KMart part." "No, dumbass, it's nowhere near the KMart part." "Don't call me a dumbass, you're the shitty driver!" and so on and so forth.&#41 I think that the last time we visited the Buckland Hills Mall area I burst a blood vessel in the front of my head, I really do. Source of Rage: the retards who built these highways in the first place. Why did you need to erect a six-lane highway that heads into a city which for the most part no one even wants to be in?

My mother-in-law says that she would never walk up to someone and call them an fucking asshole, but when she's in the car it just comes blurting forth. I think this is true for a lot of us…Road Ragers Anonymous, anyone?

Posted in Scowls.

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