Friday, July 10, 2009

Spin Cycle: Driving

The topic this week at Sprite's Keeper is driving. Hmm, broad topic but with so much potential.

I learned to drive in Houston, Texas in the late 70s. Like Pseudo, I learned to drive when high schools still offered driver's ed as part of their curriculum. Oi, the hassles we had to go through to get our daughter's license! Anyway, I had the single wide trailer with the driving simulators and the whole ball of wax.

The first time I got to drive on the highway was in driver's ed during a thunderstorm. We'd driven out I-10 to Katy (west of Houston, or it was then. Now it's all part of the same suburban sprawl. I digress.) I got to drive back. It wasn't just a light sprinkle. No this was a full fledged, the heaven's have opened up and are dumping on your head, thunderstorm. We survived but I have to say it was unpleasant.

So I had my license. Even though I didn't do so hot on the parallel parking part of the test. I think it was telling the DPS guy that I was within walking distance to the curb that sealed the deal. I don't generally hit the cars, or in this case the poles, in front or back of me, I just can't get the damn car close to the curb. To this day.

Any way, I got to drive the family station wagon. No doubt because it was a big-ass piece of shit that my parents' felt was going to protect me in case of an accident. It was a boat. The best part about driving that car was the fact that on the day it was to be traded in for a new car for my Mom, I totalled it. Some ass hat ran a stop sign cause they thought I had one (I didn't), took one look at the behemoth bearing down on them and stopped dead in the intersection.

I T-boned him.

Lovely green goo leaking out of my radiator. My door wouldn't open. I was hysterical. I was also off campus for lunch and my companion in the car was not a Senior. She boogied. My parents were no where near as upset as I thought they would be. Probably because I acted like the world was about to end and they felt sorry for me. Plus it wasn't my fault.

My mother still got her car. I got her old one. A lovely 1976 Mercury Monarch. I drove that car to college. That was back in the day when I thought it was fun to see how fast I could get from UT campus in Austin to my house in west Houston. It's miracle I didn't die. I never really found out the top speed of that car since at about a 110 it developed a disturbing vibration in the right front windshield frame. If I recall correctly it was a visiable vibration. I never made it home in under 3 hours though I had friends who swore they could.

In self defense this car started to literally fall apart. First it was the rear view mirror falling off, then the driver's door inside handle broke off in my hand as I was getting out. I did get a new car out of it.

So, as I said at the beginning, I learned to drive in Houston. Like most large cities, traffic in Houston is nuts. When I got to Austin, things were quite different. First of all, Austin has a section of I-35 that is split into two decks. The upper deck is a by-pass of sorts. It skips past UT and dumps you downtown. The entrance and exit ramps on the lower deck are ridiculously short with really crappy sight lines. Pseudo jokes that her entrance ramps were designed by someone on weed. We say that the upper/lower deck was built by Aggie engineers. (Just google Texas and Aggies and jokes and see what most UT grads think of their rival.)

As if the maddness of the upper and lower deck wasn't enough, in the early 80s Austin was still a small town. And people drove like they'd never been on an Interstate before. I once was entered I-35 at Riverside Drive (where the entrance ramp was appropriately long) and encountered an idiot who got to the end of the ramp and stopped. I might have locked up the brakes attempting to avoid him. I sat behind this nit wit and cursed as he let holes in the traffic pass him that a Mac truck could merge into. I finally got so pissed off that I pulled around him, into one of the many holes in traffic he was too chicken shit to merge with, while honking my horn and giving him the single finger salute. Can't say I had the empathy for him that Pseudo had for hers.

Austin is now much more like Houston. Lots of idiots. You know, the people who drive in a downpour the same way they do when it's 102 and sunny (like today). Weaving in and out of traffic at 75. Tailgating. You know the type.

These days, I don't do much driving. With only one vehicle, I don't get much chance. Though there are times when I'd like to take over from Hubby. He makes me nervous. He's not a bad driver, really, it's just not me behind the wheel and some day the lack of control gets to me.

Drop by Sprite's Keeper for more tales of driving woe.

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Sprite's Keeper said...

That's too funny! I've never had a major accident before, hopefully never will, mostly bumper brushing, but I did take out John's rearview mirror on the right side when backing out of the garage one morning. He kept the broken one as a reminder long after we replaced it. You're linked!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Texas and California don't sound all that different in this post.

Wonder what they did with those single wides?