Friday, November 25, 2005

Zoom. Zoom Zoom. Zoom zoom zoom.

So as I said, I just had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in relatively sunny San Diego, the kind of city where there should be a sign greeting arriving airline passengers that reads: "Aren't you glad you just left someplace else?"

(Not that life around the 19 Minutes World Media Headquarters isn't sunny. It's tough to complain about Flagstaff's 300+ days of sunshine a year.)

The other key indication that San Diego was not the place I had just left came on the freeways. The drivers on I-8, I-5, Highway 163? They're not kidding. The guy at the rent-a-car place suggested I go with the Chevrolet Cobalt, rather than the Kia Whatever, so I'd be more viable on the freeways. He wasn't kidding, either. (Although I'm still a little confused about how a red car can be called a "cobalt", which -- last I checked -- was a shade of blue.)

For a long time, I've lamented driving in Arizona. My theory is this: The copious amounts of sunshine sufficiently bake the brain of the average driver so that they're aware of nothing but their car stereos. They don't notice stop signs, they don't notice yield signs, and they certainly don't notice other cars, as they stray into other lanes.

I actually prefer driving the Washington Beltway, because although you're routinely cut off (and as often as not, flipped off) by other drivers, you're at least pretty sure they driver meant to cut you off. In Arizona, you can be cut off, sent into a ditch, and your car could flip over, and the other driver would continue searching for his Coldplay CD on the passenger side floor.

California still has me mystified. The traffic moves along at no more than 30 or 40 mph above the posted limit, and people seem perfectly happy to cut you off. But they all seem too busy talking on their cell phones to be changing their CDs. And judging from the traffic reports on the radio and TV, they're all busy calling in the accidents they've seen. It seemed almost as exhilerating as the Washington Beltway, only with the thrill of the unknown thrown in.

Truth be told, I enjoyed driving back in rural Iowa the best - where you weren't so much worried about whether someone would cut you off as much as whether to wave at that person with your whole hand, or with just the two finger, off-the-steering-wheel maneuver. The latter move still left one with eight fingers left over to change the CD.


The Motor Moron said...

I have always thought that the most gifted drivers were in California. From personal experience I have witnessed a Ford Excursion being moved into a space with little more than 6 inches in front and back while travelling over 50 mph on the interstate. You can't do that and wave with 2 fingers though, guess that is why they only use one most of the time.

Anonymous said...

It's called a "Cobalt" because it runs on radioactive Cobalt-60. And they don't need to change CDs because they all have their iPods plugged into their BMW sound systems.

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