Said suckage is something I’ve wanted to comment on for a while now. I delayed while debating whether to expand the topic to California suckage in general, but I think I’ll bring that see-saw down on the side of confining this to drivers and how they illustrate my point that the Golden State is full of crazies, just as you have always suspected (present company excluded, of course). Apparently, there are folks out there in the ether who share my frustration; in their honor I humbly submit this list as an addition to the growing oeuvre of California driver bashing.
1. No one uses their blinkin’ signals.
If turn signals are used at all, they’re generally turned on at the last possible second when they have absolutely no chance of doing what they’re intended to do: signaling to other drivers an intent to turn.
In truth, this is but a symptom of a larger California problem, namely that the entire state is passive aggressive.
2. The decoder ring for what to do at a four-way stop has been lost in a cave somewhere near the Dead Sea.
Remember that scene from the movie L.A. Story where four drivers pull up to a four-way at the same time and graciously attempt to yield the right of way to each other, then all drive into the intersection at the same time and crash? It’s like that. Seriously. What the hell are they teaching in California drivers’ ed courses if not something as basic as this? How to text while driving?
The lost art of the four-way stop is, too, merely a symptom of a larger California problem, namely the entire state operates under a delusional veneer of politesse that only barely covers a manic dedication to looking out for number one.
3. Red lights give people the shakes.
I thought Boston was bad in the red light department. Basically, in Boston, they were optional.
But at least in Boston, no one bugged you if you decided to exercise your inalienable option to stop. In California, if you’re at a red light and there is even the slightest hint that it isn’t working properly, i.e., it lasts for more than 10 seconds, or other traffic directions seem to be getting two turns to your one, Californians will start to blow their horns at you until you are shamed into giving up your option to stop.
Note that this is the only time when it is, apparently, permissible to blow your horn at someone in California without getting a look so filthy-dirty it would require lemon-freshened borax and a sandblaster to remove, even if you’re headed for a head-on collision.
This total inability to sit still for more than a second is emblematic of a massive California problem, namely that the entire state has ADHD. It figures, when you consider that California has long been at the forefront of the movie, television and computing industries, which together have caused the brain cells responsible for attention span in the collective consciousness to atrophy to the point of becoming vestigial.
4. The car wouldn’t have reverse unless you can use it anywhere, any time.
I have seen California drivers backing into intersections, including some of the aforementioned four-way stops. I have seen them back through parking lots against one-way arrows, to snatch those last parking spots away from the person going the correct direction and having the legitimate claim on them: me.
I have seen backing at a stop light into an adjoining lane. Backing up abreast to another car so as to be able to have a little chat through opened windows, while a line of cars grows behind waiting to get by. But God forbid someone should blow his or her horn -- there is no red light involved.
And I have seen, on more than one occasion, some idiot backing off of a freeway exit-ramp ONTO THE FREEWAY.
I am at a loss as to what this says about the entire state’s psychological condition, except perhaps a tendency toward the psychotic. But the implications for the IQ of the average Californian are staggering.
5. Tailgating for fun and profit
Apparently, the California version of the driver’s ed class also completely omits the lesson on the appropriate number of car lengths between cars at a given speed. I have heard an otherwise intelligent person attempt to explain to me that as long as you match the speed of the car in front of you, space between cars just doesn’t matter. Yeah, until the driver in front of you slams on his brakes. Which happens all the damned time on the freeways of California, sometimes because the mow and blow guy’s pickup truck has had a tarp or some other item blow onto the road, sometimes because some idiot is backing off the freeway, and sometimes for no identifiable reason at all.
Plus, having a car, or worse, an SUV so close it is basically driving up my tailpipe gives me a really icky feeling. Sort of like how I felt as a young commuter in New York City when some guy on the subway would take the opportunity presented by a rush-hour crammed car to rub himself up against my butt and hope I won’t notice.
The tailgating addiction is to be expected, I suppose, when the entire state suffers from borderline personality disorder.
6. Lane changes in zombie land
This is the worst by far, and the reason I first contemplated venting my spleen on the subject of California drivers. It makes me homesick for New York, where lane changes were not simply announced well ahead of time through blinkers, they often became mini social events. Drivers and passengers alike would roll down their windows and wave their arms, heads, and sometimes half their bodies to let you know they or their driver was planning a move, and by George, we were all pleased to accommodate them because it meant someone would do the same for us. It was almost homey, like we were all in it together and would be meeting up for a brewsky or two later.
Give me Vito or Mohan with his body half out the car letting me know he means business any day over the abomination that is California driver behavior when it comes to lane changes. In California, if you signal a lane change on the freeway, the car behind you in the lane you want to move to will SPEED UP, preventing you from changing into the lane in front of him or her. (This may explain why Californians, if they use turn signals, only do so at the last possible second. Explain, perhaps; not excuse.)
Not only that, the next car behind them will do the same. And the next. While this solid line of cars speeds up to prevent you from getting where you need to go, the drivers will avoid eye contact with you at all costs. They just pretend they don’t see you and enter some parallel universe in which magical thinking comes true. You’re just not there to them at all, and since you’re not there, they don’t have to even consider extending a common courtesy to another human being.
Where is it written that the world will come to a furious and fiery end if you let a car ahead of you change into your lane? New Yorkers, for all their faults and subway groping, don’t buy into this crap. Bostonians, color blind though they may be don’t either.
Californians, though, the very same people who will swear to you that if you match speed to the car in front you can tailgate with impunity just don’t get that allowing another car into your lane at constant speed doesn’t make you go any slower. (Actually, I suspect they do get it, but they just don’t care, which is even worse.) Even assuming that you’ll get where you’re going a fraction of a second later while you make up that lost car length, is this really going to have a material impact on your life?
Yes, if you’re a freakin’ narcissist, like the entire state of California.