Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Seattle School of Driving; Or, How to Drive Like an Asshole

I've learned a lot in the year I've lived in Seattle about driving. I did most of my driving before either in my hometown of Las Vegas, or Lafayette, IN. The former didn't really have a "style," as it's a city of mostly transplants from other places, so your best method is just to drive super defensively (to the point where it can actually get kind of aggressive; more on that later) to avoid the douchebags bringing in more erratic or dangerous driving styles from their place of origin. The latter is pretty laid back and calm; you may get oddly passed every now and then, but I found I got angry at pedestrians more than drivers when I was in grad school. 

Seattle drivers are from an entirely different school altogether. Some new techniques I've learned from them:

1) Try to avoid using your blinker whenever possible while changing lanes. Also try not to use it if you're turning anywhere (be it onto another street, leaving or entering a parking space, whatever). People don't actually need turning signals to know what's going on; they should be watching your tires!

2) If you do use your turning signal, make sure it's when you're already 2/3 done with whatever action it would indicate (i.e. once over half of your vehicle is into the next lane or your nose is already in the parking space). Just in case they were too stupid to think your turn signal matters. 

3) Go right on through a four-way stop if someone right in front of you is going, even if someone else in the cross-traffic is waiting. It's just one extra car, it won't make them any later or earlier, right?

4) Wait until the very last second to merge if your lane is ending, and never ever ever let anyone else merge if you're in the lane being merged into at any given time. There's no zipper, it's first-come, first-serve, dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest, bitchez!

5) Don't use your mirrors when merging or changing lanes. It's their responsibility to move for you, after all- and you have every right to honk back and flip them the birdy if they honk at you to stop you. 

6) Don't wait for the lines between lanes to break, just cross over a solid if there's room. What  if someone else takes the space!?

7) If traffic on a side street is congested, it's totally okay to block an intersection when the light ahead of you is red. Just go forward as far as you can, no matter what. Every foot counts!

8) If the light ahead is red and the person in front of you is slowing down, you should totally crank it and pass them really fast. First to the light is the first to go once it's green, after all!

9) Red arrows don't mean shit. 

10) It matters not what direction you're driving when the spaces in a parking lot are angles, so long as you're getting a space. 

11) When spaces aren't angled, always block both directions to wait for a space. You don't want some asshole to take it!

12) And don't use a turn signal while waiting; again, you don't want some asshole to realize you're waiting for a space and sneak into yours!

13) And also wait as close as possible to the car about to leave its space so the driver has to guess and hope they have room; and wave an angry fist if they indicate they need you to back up a bit or if you end up realizing you're too close. It's their fault for being in your space, damnit! 

14) If someone isn't going more than five miles per hour over the speed limit, even if they're in the right lane, tailgate them. They shouldn't be driving that slow, you have places to be, gorrammit!

15) If there's traffic and  it looks at all like the lane next to yours is moving even a few more inches per hour than yours, merge into it, remembering the first two rules. Gotta get there faster, and they should know about blinkers. 

16) If someone ever has the gall to not make space for you to get into their lane, find a way to get in front of them, then break-check their ass as many times as possible. That's what they get for not letting you in earlier!

17) Because after all, less than 1/3 of a car's length is more than enough room to switch into the next lane. 

18) Speed. All the time. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!

19) There are no rules for traffic circles. Just do what you want, whether you were first or not; the other person will always yield to you.

20) But actual yield signs don't mean shit. 

Ron is every Seattliete ever in Driver's Ed
I'm sure I forgot some, but the basic idea is that Seattle drivers are assholes, and I encounter over half of all of these every time I'm in my car. Sometimes all of them in one day (and a few times, it has happened on one trip). And I see people do more than one of them in a row. Just the other day, a gal cut me off without her turn signal and when not even half of a car length was open between myself and the car in front of me, switched into the new, emerging lane when the line was still solid, again cutting someone off, and then refused to let anyone else in. I should add the second person she cut off honked to try to warn her they were too close to each other, and her response was to stick her middle finger out the window and keep going (so we both had to break-slam). All of that shit is typical. I'm not surprised by seeing it anymore, but that doesn't mean it doesn't piss me off any less. Not only is a lot of shit these people here do illegal, it's DANGEROUS (which yes, is why so much of it is illegal). 

This shit is why I was in not one but two accidents. Mostly because of the last rule. My first accident was because a dude was going at least 60 in a 30 and t-boned me; the second was because a dude was going probably 70 on a 45 exchange that curved really suddenly, so he fishtailed and I went into the ditch to avoid a head-on collision (which the insurance company thus said was my fault, which is an entirely different rant- what's the point of having insurance to "protect" myself when I'm penalized for... protecting myself!?). I gotmy first ticket for doing that aggressively-defensive thing I picked up on in Vegas, too: I was being tailgated by a huge Escalade (and remember, I drive Subaru Impreza), and I kept speeding up to increase the distance, but the asshole eventually pushed me into the blind spot behind a huge 18-wheeler, so I sped up more to pass the 18-wheeler (that was also speeding) and got clocked at my max as I was getting around it. 

But if I had a nickel for every accident I avoided because I got out of the way of some asshole not using their blinker or that insisted on right-of-way somewhere, I could buy tickets to Hawaii for me and my boyfriend. And probably a hotel for a few nights, too. And some pina coladas.

Seriously, this was me my first couple months here:

I can drive defensively enough that I do get honked at a lot, but nowadays, my attitude is more like this:

Now don't get me wrong, Seattle traffic is terrible. Honestly, I think  it's worse since that study. It takes me over an hour to go 12 miles in the middle of traffic on a route that can take me 17 minutes when there isn't. I've lost way more than 63 hours in my year here. I kind of hate that I have to be out the door before 8am in order to be positive I won't be late for a 9:30am shift. And while the assholery isn't the sole cause of the problems (there are far too many choke points on each highway, and none of them were designed anticipating the volume of drivers during peak hours using  them now), it certainly doesn't help (the choke points wouldn't be as bad if people zipper merged, for example).