Lessons in Defensive Driving

I’m a bad driver. It took me three times to pass the driver’s test. On my first try, I ran through a flashing red light. The flashing befuddled me. If I was supposed to stop, shouldn’t it have stayed a steady red?   

The second time I took the test was much worse. Let’s put it this way: If during your road test, the Jaws of Life are called, you’re probably not going to pass.

The third time was a charm. I passed the test, a mercy passing, because I never mastered parallel parking. I hate parallel parking. It’s the Olympics of parking  Everyone’s watching you and judging you, especially when you accidentally tear off their bumper. If someone were to ask me instructions on how to parallel park, I’d say, “Park somewhere else.”

I also don’t like left turns; nor do I like it when people in front of me attempt left turns. When I’m behind someone trying to take a left on Washington Road during rush hour, I want to shout, “While you’re at it, why not turn water into wine?” Then I get out my copy of War and Peace, knowing I’ll be able to read half of  it before there’s an opening.

I also hate merging onto a highway. Merging doesn’t make sense to me. How am I supposed to force myself into an endless flow of speeding vehicles and trucks without dying or losing major limbs? How do people in Atlanta casually do that every day, as if merging on to I-285 wasn’t the equivalent of flinging yourself into a lion’s den, hoping you won’t get devoured?

And speaking of Atlanta, I always end up in the wrong lane when it’s time to exit I-20, and I can’t get over. Last time it happened I couldn’t exit until I got to Birmingham. And the mere sight of Spaghetti Junction on the horizon makes me want to shout, “Abort mission!”

Augusta traffic is much easier to manage, but eventually I’m going to have to move because  it’s rumored that we’re getting a roundabout. For me, a roundabout is like encountering the road’s version of  Rubik’s Cube.  Who’s supposed to go next and in what direction? Turning around seems like the best option.      

Luckily I’m married, and my husband David will take over the wheel in challenging driving situations, like negotiating the Augusta Exchange Shopping Center. One problem: David has his own driving issues, i.e., he’s reckless as all get out. Almost every time I ride in the car with him, I end up singing, “Jesus Take the Wheel!”

He’s also defensive when I correct him on what he considers to be a minor driving infraction. “They should make those wrong way signs bigger,” he’ll say. Or “Quit screaming . I barely grazed that guard rail.”

Fair warning to my fellow Augustans. We both drive Hyundais. I can usually be seen in a silver one, roaming the streets for unchallenging parking spots. And that red Hyundai that’s encroaching into your lane on Walton Way is David’s. Hopefully, for your sake, you won’t run into either of us.

This article appears in the April 2017 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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