Monday, April 21, 2008

The Stir Star Awards (Surface Streets)

The sheep all getting into the left lane.

Several weeks ago, TX-DOT closed the freeway flyover from the eastbound I-10 to the northbound Sam Houston Toll Road because of construction. Now, this former flyover traffic must take a new, temporary, exit and run along a 2-lane feeder road, beneath the Sam Houston, wait at a traffic signal light, then left turn to the Sam Houston feeder for about a mile to the first old northbound entrance ramp.

This temporary I-10 exit and the 2-lane feeder back up every morning. The worst time is when I’m usually on it, 7:30am. But there is a really interesting behavior of The Sheep that I get to take advantage of, every day, week after week after week.

Darn near everybody fights to get into the left lane of the feeder: everyone from all of the cars streaming off of I-10 to the many cars riding the feeder road from somewhere back to the west. Yet, the right lane consistently moves far faster. I now make it a game to pick out some distinctive vehicle in the left lane, as soon as I get to the right lane and then I watch that vehicle fade into the distance behind me as I move up and turn left through the traffic light.

Are these left lane people all asleep? They win 1 Stir.

Don’t you dare tell any of The Sheep that you know. I don’t want them coming over into my lane.

Having no idea how big your car is or where your bumper is.

If these people weren’t an occasional danger to me and to themselves, this would only be a 1-star award because they usually are simply funny to watch.

I get a real bang out of seeing “Mom” in her Nissan Armada or Toyota Sequoia (what obscene names) try to inch her way past a “tight” spot in traffic. We other drivers can all see that she has 2 feet clearance on either side of her car but she’s convinced that she’s about to scrape an expensive wheel against a curb or scuff the paint on her precious Land Barge.

It happens with far smaller vehicles too. Some people simply have zero concept of the perimeter extents of their vehicles. What a hoot. Maybe they should go back to the days of little vertical wands mounted on the tips of all 4 bumper corners so that they can get a clue.

When the light turns green, waiting for the car in front to open up a full gap before touching the gas pedal.

This population of ding-dongs thinks that they need to sit, stopped dead, at a traffic signal that has turned green, until the vehicle in front of them has opened up a gap equivalent to the gap that they think is proper for when both vehicles are moving at full speed.

This almost always happens at intersections where the green light is ridiculously short and in the best of times, only a handful of cars will get through on any given light change cycle.

Here’s a driving lesson: Everybody needs to ease away from zero mph and get the hell across the intersection as close as reasonably possible to the slow moving car in front of you so that the maximum number of poor slobs behind you can also get through the light, YOU DUMB APE. Once you’re up a few car lengths beyond the intersection you can ease off and let a little gap open up. Take a deep breath and take a chance.

Leaving a car length or more between you and the car in front when people are trying to squeeze in behind you.

This, for example, is an issue at any intersection where there is near-gridlock or there is a short left turn lane that a lot of people want to get into.

Let’s say that you get a chance to get through an intersection on a green light but there is only room on the other side to fit two more tightly packed cars because of a traffic backup. But you, in all your mental magnificence, stop way back from the car in front of you causing the car behind you to hang in the middle of the intersection, impeding traffic. Why?

This is freakin’ Houston. It’s flat. The chances of some old manual transmission dope rolling backwards into your front end are really slim. Pull the heck up.

To make matters worse, I’ve noticed that a bunch of these Big-Gappers are folk with missing rear view mirrors or intact mirrors that haven’t experienced a glance from your eyeballs in over a year. Wake up.

Poking away from a stop when the light turns green when the green is short.

“Hey,” you say, “This is the same as the guy waiting for a gap to open up before starting to move.” Not quite.

These people aren’t roped into their stupidity by misguided “safe” driving habits. Gaps are important. Moving away from your stop just a little faster than a speeding glacier has nothing to do with safety.

Put your foot in it, Uncle Stupid. Some of us have some place to be. We really don’t want to sit through another one or three 4-minute signal light cycles at Westheimer.

Not moving into the intersection for a left turn.

This antic seems to be uniquely Houston. Maybe it occurs in other parts of Texas and I just don’t know about it.

These darlings have never been taught that when the light is green in front of your simpleton eyes, and you’re going to make a left turn, and there is oncoming traffic, it is perfectly allowable and safe for you to move forward, up to the middle of the intersection so that I can also move forward, behind you, and maybe get through this light, you stupid funk. (Whoops! Bet you thought I was getting nasty there. Fooled ya.)

Not pulling up in an esplanade when making a turn or when crossing.

These mental midgets are similar to the fine folk that don’t know where the back end of their car is, in relation to their butts and the front end of their car (or, more often, pickup trucks.)

They pull into the cross-over area of a boulevard or other esplanaded roadway but they only pull a teensy way in. That leaves a foot or more of their vehicle still sticking out into the active traffic lane. I love this. And, if you honk at them … oh, the indignant looks you’ll get. How dare you. They have every right in the world to block your ass and perhaps get you run into by the car behind you. So there.

Driving in the dusk with no lights on.

What, are you Egyptian or something?**

When’s the last time you had to replace a headlamp or taillight because you used it too much and burned it out? Get real and get the damn lights on.

You’re a danger to yourself and everyone around you.

And, here’s something to rant about the good ol’ USA. Why aren’t driving lights mandatory here, 24 hours per day. This safety issue has been so proven that virtually all States finally now require motorcycles to run with driving lights burning in daylight. Uh, what’s the big difference with cars? They’re bigger? So’s your fat head.

** For those of you that have never experienced the sheer terror of driving at night in Egypt … in most (all?) of the cities – even busy Cairo – everyone drives with their headlights OFF. Fast. Aggressively. At first I thought that it was optional. Then I experimented by turning my lights on one night. Oooooo. Egyptian drivers can get really ugly to other drivers that are “blinding” them with those stupid headlights. Unimaginable? Yes, but strangely true.

Driving in the fog with no lights; just parking lights; or high beams.

Yeah, you swami’s get the big 7. Didn’t you at least start out your life with the power to think? Can’t you do exercises for the brain damaged and try to get at least a tiny little bit of grey matter action going?

No lights: Do they glare a little? Well how are you going to like the glare of MY headlights up your nose as I t-bone you in some intersection because I didn’t have a prayer of seeing you coming.

Just parking lights: Saving those headlamps for something? Or maybe you’re part of the, “It glares,” group. See previous.

High beams: Sure it glares, Brain-Boy. It blinds you, just like every driving instructor and publication on earth told you. Now you’re blinded so that you can drive right through that red light and …. see above.

Drifting in lanes during a multi-lane turn.

Multi-lane turning areas are dangerous. Haven’t you figured that out? You really need to pay special attention at EVERY multi-lane turn so that:
a). You don’t accidentally drift into somebody else’s lane; or
b). Somebody else doesn’t drift into your lane.

Helloooooo. (knock knock knock) Anybody home upstairs?

Last week I saw the ultimate in a brainless multi-lane crash. The ornamental babe in the Corolla in front of me turns left, short, from the left-turning lane on the right and the boob in the pickup turns long from the left-turning lane to our left. Wham!!! Fortunately for them, they were both turning at about 5 mph when they hit so there wasn’t more than a few thousand in damage between them.

Big trucks in the #1 lane.

I can’t see. Get the hell out of the fast lane. I don’t care how fast you WANT to go. You shouldn’t be going that fast with all that freakin’ weight on your brakes anyway. Stupid.

Slow drivers in the #1 lane.

I keeeell you. Get out of the fast lane. What? Are you from Japan or the U.K. or something? This is Uhmurika and the right-most lane is where you belong if you want to go 50.

Keeping the Kirkwood exit lane closed for a year.

So … they took the Sam Houston southbound flyover to the westbound I-10 and did 5 years of improvements. Construction everywhere. Lane closures and interruptions to traffic flow everywhere. We went from 2 lousy lanes to ………… uh, 2 lousy lanes.

Yeah, the flyover was totally closed for 6 months while they tore the old one out and put up the new one. And they, in their infinite wisdom, gave us zero new capacity.

But the best came later.

They did construct an extra exit lane for the Kirkwood exit from westbound I-10. Two lanes. Cool. And one of those two lines up with the right-most lane of the new flyover. Think about it! I can zoom over the big flyover (except in rush hour, when I creep over the flyover) and dash right down the new 2nd exit lane to home – NOT.

TX-DOT has not snapped to the idea of opening the new 2nd lane. The lane that has been finished for almost a year now. (Even the feeder road lanes have been re-striped to accommodate the new 2nd exit traffic.) The lane that has collected an inch of dirt and trash just building up as we longingly look over there. The lane that causes the Big Pinch at the bottom of the flyover because the big orange barrels are set across the front of the new lane.

What’s the matter with your skulls at TX-DOT?

Construction workers crossing/closing/blocking lanes during rush hour.

Who the heck writes the TX-DOT contracts. Fire that dolt.

Other States don’t allow disruptive work on freeways or main surface streets during rush hours. Even the City of Houston is smart enough to ban permit loads from 610 during the rush hours.

Dummkopfs, it’s really simple to write into the highway construction contracts that they either work at night or that they cannot move equipment or otherwise cause disruptions of the active traffic lanes during rush hours. Is this really that hard to understand? Don’t you read our trade journals or go to road engineering conferences?

Oh. Yeah. I assumed somebody at TX-DOT could read. Sorry.

Pulling out from a side street when oncoming cars are 100 feet away.

Here’s a Houston goody for you. This is a true story.

Years ago, I saw my 20 year old secretary pull out from our parking lot directly into the path of an oncoming truck. I sucked wind, bracing for the inevitable crash, but the truck managed to lock ‘em up and missed her “by that much.”

The next day I asked her about it. Her honest to god response was, “Well, my daddy taught me that it’s my right to just pull out. He says that ‘they’ll stop.’ “

That girl has grown up now and has her own kids that are driving age. I see them and their generation all the time. And they’ve learned the tricks of Houston driving from their parents – and learned them well. They know you’ll stop.

Or at least we all better hope you do.

If you’re going to joy ride, go do it somewhere you won’t be impeding traffic.

I can’t be clever or droll with these turds.

Listen up, Feces-Face. Just stay off the busier roads and stay away from me. Go out into the country and knock yourself out, tooting along and sniffing the pollen in the air.

Doing your makeup while you’re driving to work.

I hope you poke your eye out.

How can you people have that much to talk about?

Now, goddamnit, once upon a time, I was a pretty important dude, and I had dozens of employees clamoring for my opinion or approval or whatever. I had a cell phone back then. And a radio car phone before that. And I NEVER had to have the blippin damn phone up to my bleepin damn ear all the flukin time!

What are you people talking about? Who are you talking to? Whatsamatter with you?

Oh, I know … it’s 6am here and you’re getting a last quick call into your office in Bahrain before they go home for the day. Yeah, right, you look like you have an office in Bahrain.

Turn your “music” down.

Here you go kids. The old bastard rags on your tunes and your “rights.”

You can’t shit a turd. I played my music loud when I was your age. I did it to piss off “the man.” And I knew damn well that it wasn’t some god-given right. So do you.

But here’s the bad news, stupid.

We only had little tiny, tinny car radios that put out, oh, maybe 10 watts of big booming power. So when we “cranked ‘er up” all we got for our efforts were dirty looks from Old Man Peterson when we went by his hardware store. There wasn’t enough power to do anything permanently damaging to our ear bones.

You, on the other hand, are going to be deaf, Dude. Hee hee. Stone Cold Steven Deaf.

And that, my little bubbas, is what I tell myself every time I hear your boom boom boom shaking my car as you roll up behind me at the traffic light. I laugh maniacally to myself and gleefully form a mental picture of your future wherein you miserably suffer along, unable to hear your wife, your grandchildren, the television or the really cool sound effects of your latest 6-dimensional VR game.

Mmwah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaa!!!!!

P.S.: Hearing aids can’t fix that kind of deafness, Slick. Giggle.

Sit up, jerk.

What cultural elements caused certain ethnicities to think that it is cool to drive along “Doing the Lean”? You look so stupid. We know you ain’t tough. Same goes for “The Slouch” where you drive along like some 90 year old woman, with your nose just barely up to the steering wheel.

But, really, don’t stop. You brighten up my day with your comedy. Thank you.

Pull over for emergency vehicles.

This one totally caught me by surprise. I didn’t think that there was any culture or any location on Earth that didn’t know that the rule (and the undeniable right thing to do) is to pull over to the right and stop your vehicle when you become aware that an emergency vehicle is approaching with lights and siren going.

In Houston almost every time I encounter an emergency vehicle answering a call, I also am sure to encounter at least one hump head that seems either confused as to what to do or completely ignores the emergency.

I really think that the cops should put down their donuts and travel behind every moving emergency vehicle and nail these chig├╝irotos to the wall. In short order, word would get out and the scofflaws would stop whereas the truly stupid would learn the rules of life.

Hey, old guy, do you know how ridiculous you look in that Corvette?

Clue: If you’re over 50, do not buy a Corvette, WRX, Evo, or any non-classic road sports car. You look ridiculous driving it.

Here’s what you’re thinking (please correct me if I’m wrong): “Oooo, this car makes me look so studly and some gorgeous babe is going to come on to me at the next traffic light!”

Here’s what everyone that sees you is really thinking: “Oooo, what a sad, pitiful old person that can’t let go of his youth and is out trolling like some old lecher. I wonder how he can treat his wife like that.”

If you can’t turn your head & torso enough to look behind yourself, stop driving.

Oh, yeah, here I go. The AARP’ers are going to go for my throat.

Dear Driver, if you cannot turn your damn torso and neck far enough around to look behind your car:
a). Never put the car into reverse; or,
b). Quit driving, damn you.

Chariot wheels or “Twenny Foh Dees”.

Oooo. Let’s get some. Or 26’s. Or 28’s. Oh, fluk, just go for foaties.

Well, that's it for today, campers. Get on back here in a day or two and I'll reward you with more Pudding Head ratings in the greater metro Houston area!

1 comment:

The Girl in the Office said...

Bahahahahaha! Dad, I'm sure glad I went to the bathroom before reading this. My poor, poor bladder wouldn't have been able to handle the humor.
Seriously though, do they ever stop construction on I-10 in Texas?
I have another little addition that probably requires a 7-stir. Here in Louisiana on any given weekend we have can shakers. They stand IN TRAFFIC, on the main boulevard and shake cans at you, collecting money for whatever cause. They usually stand right on the dotted lane lines. I'll let you in on something, Louisiana is NOT known for average weight people. I'm going to, at the very least, skim one of them real soon now.