It's a shame that tourist season has to
coincide with road rage season, but it does. I see stupid driving
and near accidents every day now, and not just involving the cars
with out-of-state plates driving 8 mph down Main. People are
driving the wrong way on one-way streets and blowing through stop
signs. Speeding and unsafe passing continue to fill me with
paranoia; I'm scared of what other drivers are going to
See, I learned to drive
in Los Angeles, so defensive driving was ingrained at an early age.
It helped that I turned 16 in the '80s, when all the highway
shootings were taking place. Someone even shot at my high school
boyfriend Greg, who saw the bullet go through his windshield,
crouched down and drove straight to the police station. (In the
shooter's defense, Greg drove a '77 Chevy Citation with the license
plate 2FAST4U. He drove like a maniac, and his life ambition which,
incidentally, he realized was to become a highway patrol man. It
was not so he could hang with cool guys like Ponch and Jon, but
because "then nobody can give me a ticket for driving too
Years later, after
blissfully spending time on the subway in Washington, D.C., and on
the bus in Seattle, I ended up in Taiwan, the scariest place to
drive on Earth (with the possible exception of India, from what I'm
told). The Taiwanese driving philosophy seems to be "anything
goes." Feel free to make a U-turn across several lanes of traffic,
and as soon as the light turns green, turn left without waiting for
through traffic to pass. I feared for my life and
So it was a relief to
return to the States with the plan to move to Durango, a happy
little mountain town where surely no one would be in a hurry. My
best driving experience had been living on Maui where drivers are
mellow and Durango is the mountain equivalent of Maui.
I soon realized my
mistake. Because I commute from Durango West and have a job that
requires driving around delivering newspapers, I spend more time in
the car than I'd like. But I also walk around town harassing our
wonderful advertisers, and frequently find myself yelling at
vehicles for almost killing me. A few months ago I went into a
retail store and the cashier exclaimed, "I saw you almost get hit
by a car yesterday!" But it happens so often that I wasn't able to
recall which incident she'd seen. "Where was I?" was all I could
muster. She looked at me like I was nuts and cautioned, "Be careful
That's not to say that
pedestrians are faultless. Last week I had to slam on my brakes on
College when I noticed the car to my left and slightly ahead of me
do the same. We were nowhere near a crosswalk. As I did, a man
sprinted right in front of me pushing a stroller ahead of him. I
almost fainted. And don't get me started on the DHS kids on North
Main at lunchtime.
But cars have infinitely
more power to inflict damage, and that's what really scares me. A
few days ago, my husband and I were driving home and a car suddenly
started merging into us. The driver hadn't turned on his blinker or
even bothered to check to make sure it was safe to change lanes.
Luckily, he responded instantly to Bryan's horn honking and my
obscenity yelling, and we didn't have to shoot him. But if I owned
a gun and weren't a pacifist, I might have.
My paranoia in the car
has turned me into a backseat driver at the ripe old age of 31.
It's also turned me into the person who drives 35 in a 65 if
there's a possibility of black ice, and the person who doesn't try
to pass the slowpoke RV if it means passing into oncoming traffic.
But try to understand why, and the next time you feel the urge to
flip me off, please reconsider and maybe even slow down.