Thursday, February 12, 2015

Well, back in the good ol' U. S. of A. it came to pass, fairly frequently, that I would get a bad case of the redass at other drivers. Sometimes I would begin shouting at them in tongues, (within the safety of my own car.)

But, here in Pura Vida land, I have turned over a new leaf and I try not to get torqued up over traffic events ... until this week.

It started right away as I passed through the toll booth of Hwy 27, in Atenas, headed to San Jose. Another little car came out of an adjacent toll booth a few seconds before I left mine and he started down the entrance ramp ahead of me. Down hill. Steeply. All set up so that you could easily get up to speed (only 70 kph at this location) to merge with any traffic.

Nah. This phenom of the driving arts poked down the hill and then at the Ceda (yield) sign CAME TO A COMPLETE STOP.

Me? I was flying down that hill, looking to the side for traffic (there was none) so that I could make the decision to merge ahead or behind any traffic. Instead, as I finally paid attention to what was supposed to be an empty ramp in front of me, I had to slam on the brakes to avoid ramming Einstein. 

From his dead stop the clown swiveled around in his seat to gawk up the road to see if some nasty car or truck was fixin to try to hit him. Only after he had triple checked the emptiness of the roadway did he risk brushing against the accelerator pedal and he oozed out onto the road.

Some evil spirit tried to fire me into a state of rage but I resisted and simply commented on the other driver's mother's occupation as I blew past him. Oh, well, into every life a little rain ... and all that stuff.

Have you noticed how unbelievably slowly many many trucks plod up the hills on the highways here? I mean, hey, I lived in California for quite a few years and on those serious mountain highways, if you weren't breaking the speed limit, semis would run right over you. It can be done. Those really big trucks can go really fast uphill. Does this mean that the truck drivers are just doing the snail act to piss me off? Well, maybe, but shouldn't they try to make up for lost time when going downhill on the other side?

No. I think they generally go slower downhill than they do going uphill. How? Why? DRIVE, dammit! If that piece of junk you're piloting has such crappy brakes that you can't control it going downhill at any speed above 10 kph, then: a). your rolling scrap heap cannot possibly have passed its RITEVE (safety) inspection this year, so, b). just drive that piece of shit off the road and wreck it. Maybe you can buy a real truck with the insurance money.

Fortunately, the tollroad has frequent passing lanes allowing all of us driving at the blazing maximum speed of 80 kph (50 by god miles per hour!) an opportunity to scoot around the highway sloths. 

Speaking of passing lanes, here in Costa Rica, they always end with plenty of notification coming at you from both road signs and from warning lines painted on the pavement. In other words, unless you are asleep (or on your fucking phone, you shithead) there is no way to not know that your lane is about to vanish. You'd think.

All of this end-of-lane awareness stuff doesn't really work though if the rutabega operating a vehicle has zero sense of depth perception. Yeah, on this fine day a turd in a BMW SUV was riding my tail and he kept waiting until all of the "Lane Ends" warnings and the Yield markings had flown by. Then he'd jerk his jerk-wagon over into the right lane, floor it, and get about 2/3 of the way past me before he realized that he was staring directly at a guard rail, whereupon he'd toss out the anchor and drop back on my tail. Over and over. Don't animals learn from their errors?

Well, I don't know ... because we all rolled into the tollgate complex near MultiPlaza. He went left for a booth and I went to the far right QuickPass lane.

As I picked my booth/lane, tightly surrounded by traffic all around, a box truck was slowly pulling through ahead of me. Too slowly. So slowly that just as the nose of his truck reached the gate, it lowered onto his bumper and he continued for about two feet, snapping the gate off.

Now, people, in case you don't know it, these gates are made out of soft plastic and they're designed to snap off cleanly without doing significant damage to their mechanism or to your vehicle. If it happens, let it go. It happens every day. Move along.

This truck stops dead in the lane and I'm trapped behind him. Two, three, four, a dozen cars and trucks pile up behind me. "Hey man ... move the truck over to the side." *beep beep*

Nothing. Then the driver's door on the truck opens. "No! Don't get out. There's no booth attendant. Just get out of the way." *HONK HONK*

Sir Thinksalot, the driver, moseys up to the front and stands there staring at the gate, like a goat looking at a watch. Everybody is honking. A cop rolls up in the next lane ... and watches. Oh, yeah, I forgot -- cops are hired to drive around in their cool cars with the emergency lights all flashing, going nowhere in particular. They don't even do donuts. They just drive around. Then the passenger door of the truck opens.

"No! Don't get out. Get out of the way you flaming cretins!" Now everybody is honking.

The passenger s-l-o-w-l-y walks to the back of the truck AND OPENS THE DAMN BACK DOORS! He's going to inspect the load for damage!

That ripped it. I was full tilt boogy flipped out. I was ready to pop a blood vessel. The cops seemed amused. Patricia, my co-pilot, seemed aghast that the Incredible Hulk had just materialized in the seat next to her.

And suddenly ...

The little voices in my head said, "Pura Vida, Mae. Tranquilo." That's right. I had no place to be. What do I care if that DUMB SHIT sits there for the rest of the day?

I'm tellin' ya. This Costa Rica life is really making me into a nice person. As I eventually rolled past the plodding former lane blocker I almost didn't flip him off. Pura Vida indeed!