Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

"Peg, I'm trying to control an outbreak, and you're driving the monkey to the airport." - Hank, King of the Hill

Either that’s an oil rig off the coast of Galveston, or a James-Bond-Style super-villain has moved his secret headquarters sneakily in toward Texas.

Okay, okay, I tried a little experiment with the last post – forgive me. About two years ago, I had the idea that I’d toss in an Alaska joke once a week.


Went over like Alec Baldwin as a preschool teacher. Or, Kim Basinger as a mother.

People weren’t interested in that. They appeared to be more interested in the quirky adventures that The Mrs. and The Boy and I got into. (This was pre-Pugsley.) So, I went back to that. Every so often I stray.

Okay, I understand. Until I forget again the year after next. Back to the adventures . . .

There is a certain simplicity and respect brought about by living in a small, remote place. In Fairbanks, drivers were, for the most part, polite. You never knew if the person that you were cutting off in traffic was your boss, The Mrs.’ boss, or The Boy’s teacher. It was just good sense to display good manners. I mean, really, if The Boy just walked by and kicked me in the shin everyday, I think I’d done something to irritate him, or perhaps that he didn’t like the food around here.

By contrast, in Houston, even if you live a mile or so away from a person, well, there’s only one chance in 20,000 that you know the person that just ignored the stop sign and blew past you in a big, black, shiny, Ford F250 pickup. It’s like a different four-foot stranger comes into my house and kicks me in the shins every day. At least that’s understandable – at that point it’s nothing personal, they’re just four-foot strangers that like kicking shins.

Every day that I drive in traffic, somebody is a four-foot shin-kicker, either stopping for those red lights, or maintaining that as a pedestrian they have a right to use the sidewalk. It’s irritating.

Perhaps the worst is when navigating from one mega-highway to the exit ramp that leads to another. The traffic flow must be worse (or at least as bad as) the traffic flow around Paris Hilton’s house on a Saturday night. Merging is horrible, and it’s hard to get to the exit because of the crowd of people heading the other direction. Which is to say, exactly like Saturday night at Paris Hilton’s house. Nobody knows you by name, and there’s no real reason to help one another out, since everybody has a different goal.

I try to do my best to fool ‘em. I drive like I’m in Fairbanks. I let people merge, use my turn signals, and avoid driving on the shoulder or cutting people off. A saint? No. It’s just my little way of sticking it to the man.

I know, I know, being nice and polite doesn’t really stick it to the man, but, people sound so gosh darn cool when they say that. I just wanted to say it once. No, the real reason I try to drive nice is because although I’m a continent away from where people mostly always drive nice, well, I don’t have to change.

I bring all this up because the other day I read a quote, “Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” That was Kurt Vonnegut. (At this point I should be slightly embarrassed to admit that the only thing I ever read by Vonnegut was “Harrison Bergeron.”)

That seems to me to be good advice. And, if I can dance fast enough, I can avoid The Boy swiping at my shin with his Hot Wheels® sneakers.


Blogger SusanE said...

I drive polite for the same reason the people in Fairbanks do.... small town, you probably do know everyone, or they know you and I'm self-employed so I hate to annoy potential customers.

I also greet people on the streets in large cities when I'm on vacation. It's fun to watch the varied reactions.

5:55 AM  
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6:58 AM  
Blogger Jeffro said...

I've driven in Houston traffic twice in an eighteen wheeler. I'd rather not have to do it again. The average driver is a jerk, plain and simple. Having driven in many other large metroplexes, I'd have to rank Houston as the worst.

But, what do I know - being a small town kinda guy that uses turn signals and tries to be polite.

2:50 PM  
Blogger John said...

Yup - try being small-town nice in Houston. Makes people a little surprised . . . especially when you share medical problems with strangers.


Yup. Houston is very dog-eat-whatever dogs eat.

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in Dallas and the traffic (and lack of courtesy) is similar here. But I have now adopted about a half-mile radius from my office that is a "no honk or flip-off zone." Couldn't care less about the neighbors, since it's unlikely I know any of them, but people at work know me and my car. There have been a couple times the honk or flip-off urge has risen near the office and I've refrained, and then been happy that I did so when I had to follow that car into the parking garage...

7:25 AM  

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