Tag Archives: driving

Talking Trash

When the weather permits, I do a lot of walking. And even though I’ve ranted before about the perils of pedestrian life, there is another facet of this endeavor that I have neglected to address until now.

I’ve held off addressing this in hopes that my eternal annoyance would disappear like my motivation to write has in the past couple of weeks. However, while walking the other day I was hit with another bolt of inspiration.

Wait. It wasn’t a bolt of inspiration. It was a mother freaking 7-11 Slurpee cup thrown out of a car going way too fast and blasting ridiculous music.

I WAS HIT IN THE BACK WITH TRASH!!!

Yes, my friends, one of my biggest pet peeves EVER is that of litter and the idiots who perform this inconsiderate and absolutely revolting act of using the world as their dumpster.

Now I ask you, what type of person just throws their shit out the window? What do they think is going to happen to it? It’s just going to magically disappear and that McDonald’s bag is going to be composted back into the soil that will later harvest the potatoes used to make the greasy French fries that once occupied said bag thrown on the side of the road?

I’ll tell you what type of person—a lazy person.

And I can just about guarantee that this lazy person is not driving a high-end sports car with delicate white satin seats that cannot be soiled by caviar juice, therefore necessitating the immediate removal of whatever caviar comes in out the car window.

In other words, I think the 1996 Ford pick-up with the window decal of Calvin pissing on the “Dodge” logo can handle having a burger wrapper on the floor for an hour.

But it’s not just getting blasted in the back with a Slurpee cup or a fast food bag, as there is litter all over the place. Between cigarette butts, junk food wrappers and even the occasional roadside bra that would likely have a more exciting story to tell than I ever will, crap is all over the place.

And I don’t know about you, but there are plenty of trashcans in my house. Maybe I’m fancy, but I have never been to the house of someone who doesn’t own a trashcan, and every gas station I have ever been to has had a trashcan.

There really is just no excuse, other than laziness.

OK. I have to admit that while I’ve never chucked a cup out the window or a wrapper on the grass, I used to have a habit of spitting out my gum in random places. It was part mini-rebellion, part lack of piece of paper to throw it in.

But I tried one too many times to throw it out my car window only to have it fly right back in or get stuck on the outside of the window and took it as a sign from the universe to change my ways. I realized that my actions could hurt people and some ant family could get stuck in that wad on their way to go ruin a picnic.

Or at the very least, gum would get stuck in my hair. Again.

Anyway, my point is that I WAS HIT IN THE BACK WITH TRASH!!! Pelted with dried Icee and disgust at the state of society! Forced to use both caps lock and exclamation points!

The world is not your trashcan and you should treat it as such. The last thing we need is a chipmunk picking up discarded cigarette butts and a nicotine addiction.

Or even worse—gum in her hair.

Like the blog? Buy the books!

Advertisements

Pedestrian Crossing

While I hate to curse things, I think it’s safe to say that spring has finally sprung in these parts.

im-gonna-need-like-3-gallons-of-nair

This means a) the eternal battle with the woodchuck in my yard has begun b) I can take walks without coming home and molesting the space heater and c) it won’t be long now until I start complaining about how hot it is.

But first I’m going to complain about something else related to point “b” above —assholes who drive cars and shouldn’t drive cars because they’re assholes who don’t respect the rights of pedestrians.

Pardon my language, but this pedestrian is rather PO’d.

Picture this scenario: A lovely 30-something year old woman is enjoying a walk in the fresh air, probably composing a wonderful blog post in her head that she’ll immediately forget the second she makes it back home.

The next thing you know, some Catholic school kid blasting vulgar rap out of his janky-ass car drives by and honks and/or yells something that no one on Earth can understand. However, the noise still scares the crap out of the lovely 30-something-year-old woman powerwalking up the street.

Why is that a thing?

While I’ve been known to yell at stupid drivers in their cars, the only time I might feel compelled to yell out of my car at a complete stranger walking on the street is if a bear was about to attack them. Even then, I might wait and see what develops from that situation first.

Now I know what you’re thinking: It’s probably because the lovely 30-something-year-old woman is hot and doing some sort of sexy cougar catwalk, drawing attention of all who pass by.

Not so much.

Those days are well in the past. Plus, age knows no bounds with douchebag driver behavior, as you get it from older guys, too (which really just makes it more sad.) And if you think I’m picking on men, let me throw out another scenario that happens with both of the sexes.

A lovely 30-something year old woman is enjoying a walk in the fresh air, creating stressful scenarios in her head of events that will probably never actually happen.

She approaches a stop sign, sees the coast is clear and proceeds to step into the street. All of a sudden someone driving while talking on their phone rolls up and through the stop sign, almost running over our Polish pedestrian.

News flash: Waving, nervously smiling and mouthing “sorry” does not help when you almost make me a hood ornament. One of these times I might throw myself onto the hood of your car and create a dramatic scene, just to freak you out.

Don’t doubt the extent of my crazy.

My point is that a windshield is not a force field of invincibility, and being inside a car does not mean you are outside the realm of normal social conventions. When approaching pedestrians, do not yell or repeatedly honk, and WE SEE YOU PICKING YOUR NOSE.

If you feel the need to verbally express yourself while operating a motor vehicle, might I suggest car karaoke? A few verses of “Dancing Queen” or Rage Against the Machine will surely exercise your lungs and your demons without leaving pedestrians crossed or imbedded in the grill of your car.

I think that’s a win-win for all.

Like the blog? Buy the book.

Detour Ahead

My commute to work is a rather straight shot and usually takes around 25 minutes. Considering that I leave early, I tend to miss the morning rush and  make pretty good time.

The other morning I was cruising along and saw flashers lighting up the dark. It turns out there was a bad accident and emergency crews were directing traffic down a side road I had never been down before, much less in the dark.

My first thought was one of panic, as my ability to directionally navigate is on par to Helen Keller’s in a maze.

If it’s not my normal route, there are no detour signs and it’s not light outside, you can pretty much expect me to end up four counties over, huddled in the backseat in the fetal position eating everything in my lunchbox for survival in the span on 20 minutes.

But I followed the cars in front of me and long story short, I realized where I was and made it to work with my mental faculties no more damaged than after accidentally hearing a snippet of a Nickelback song.

This would be a really boring story if I didn’t try and squeeze some deeper meaning out of it though, right? Let’s try, because while my first thought was one of panic, my second thought was a wee bit more centered.

“At least it wasn’t me in the accident.”

I was inconvenienced, yes, but I wasn’t a victim of some personal misfortune. There were people having a much worse morning than me—namely those in the accident—and the fact that I was stressing over finding an alternate route was actually quite absurd.

But don’t we do that more often than we’d like to admit? The screaming child in the grocery store, the traffic jam on our way home, bad weather—a lot of the stress and anxiety we feel comes from the internalization of external events and the feeling that they’re happening directly to us instead of around us.

The way we react to that misinformation is what actually intensifies the discomfort, not the events in and of themselves.

Now don’t get me wrong–crap happens, often directly to us. But we’re often victims of our old way of thinking and not some universal plot to destroy our inner peace (although I would argue that Comcast and people who drive slow in the fast lane are truly in on that plan.)

If we adjust our reaction to one of acceptance instead of resistance and adopt a new way of thinking about them—an emotional detour of sorts—we’re at least giving ourselves a chance to get where we need to go.

So much like my drive to work, I’m trying to stop my brain from operating on autopilot, aware that I can’t really practice contentment while continuing to identify with whatever darkness I’ve let cloud up my mind. I’m trying to remember that my internal reality doesn’t have to be dictated by external events.

Easier said than done—and I have five million half-posts written about this that will never see the light of blog—but the occasional detour can show us there’s more than one way to move on through the world. We can adjust or we can resist, and some days I do both in the span of 3.4 seconds. But progress not perfection and all those other used clichés.

I’ll get there one way or another.

Like the blog? Buy the book.

Pump It Up

People in Michigan are prone to complain about two things—the weather and gas prices, but for good reason. Our weather can be ridiculous, and as of last week we had the third highest gas prices in the country. So when it’s 95 degrees or we have 100 inches of snow and gas is $4.10/gallon, it’s best to stick to safe topics like religion or politics.

But with that said, gas is a necessary evil. Seeing as I can take a seemingly routine vehicular activity and turn it into an issue of sorts, it’s not a surprise that pumping gas is no exception.

gas

I really don’t remember a time when we could pull up to a pump and have a smiling face come out to fill ‘er up. Today I pull up to one of the pumps—careful not to pull up too far, as to prevent someone from using the one in front of me—and if someone did approach my car, smiling or not, I would lock the doors and then either prepare my awesome ninja skills or start the car and drive away.

Because it’s all pre-pay now, I usually opt for the pay at the pump option. At this point, the cashier’s voice comes over the intercom like some sort of omniscient gasoline god and greets me and I’m left wondering what I should do. Do I say “hi” back, not knowing if they can hear me but well aware that I just shouted, “I’m fine! Thanks for asking!” out to a semi-vacant parking lot?

Forget the meaning of life. These are the questions that need to be asked.

But there are times my card can’t be read for whatever reason and I have to go in the store and manually pay for the gas like it’s 2010. The cashier that greeted me so warmly before will ask me what pump I’m at and then immediately express complete annoyance at the fact that I’m not prepared and have no idea, opting instead to point to my car at the pump.

Knowing I need him more than he needs me, I smile warmly and silently regret my decision not to carry on a whole conversation at the pump via intercom just moments before.

The attendant then (deeply sighs and) activates the pump, at which point I begin the walk of shame back to my Blazer and proceed with the process at hand, making a mental note of what pump I’m at and carrying on a compensatory conversation with the attendant via an intercom that I’m 99 percent certain is no longer on.

Better safe than sorry, and talking to yourself at the pump will deter any weirdos from approaching your car.

But sometimes actually going into the store and pre-paying for gas is quite helpful, as it will stop the pump at an exact amount and I can attempt to clean my windshield during the pumping process. If forced to pump on my own, I’m pretty sure I spend an extra $10 just trying to get the pump to end on an even amount.

Plus, one day last week the cashier jokingly carded me when I was forced to go inside to buy gas. He was about 112 years old with five teeth, but we’re going steady now—until he brings up the weather.

Like the blog? Buy the book.

Cart Corral Corrupters

I realize that I write about grocery shopping a lot.

The reason for that is because a) I’m at the store a few times a week and b) I am an astute observer of human behavior and notice things others might not—like little kids sticking green beans up their noses and putting them back in the pile, old men in sweatpants suggestively fondling cucumbers, checkout belt divider creepers, etc.

Perhaps I need a new hobby, but then again, perhaps I just need my fresh produce and will sacrifice my sanity to bring home the broccoli.

At any rate, my latest public declaration is that there are two kinds of people in this world: 1) those who return carts to the cart corral and 2) a-holes.

cartcorral

“Go to your home!  Are you too good for your home?” (Bonus points if you get this reference.)

Disclaimer: This observation excludes parents who might not want to leave their kids alone in the car to return the cart. For that reason, you’re excused.

But with that said, anyone else who refuses to return the cart to it’s home deserves to purchase and eat the boogery beans mentioned above.

Why?

Because shopping carts are provided for the convenience of customers. Cart corrals are provided for the specific purpose of controlling the carts so they don’t roam free in the parking lot, creating an inconvenience that cancels out the aforementioned cart convenience.

These cart corrals are clearly marked and not hidden in some cart corral cave accessible only through a series of security measures and secret handshakes, and a shopping cart left to run amok can cause a great deal of damage and injury.

When it’s windy, they blow around and are magnetically drawn to parked cars and elderly women who unknowingly take on the role of human bowling pins as they shuffle up to the doors to pick up their cat food and butterscotch candies.

Let’s also mention that leaving a cart to find it’s own way home often results in the cart camping out in a parking spot, a parking spot someone (ahem) will inevitably pull halfway into before realizing the cart is there and angrily backing out, pissing off people behind them.

It’s a vicious cycle.

The fact is that carts cannot be trusted to return themselves to the cart corral.  It takes a firm hand, determination and perhaps a few extra steps to see to it that they are put back where they belong. Before you know it, the cart jockey will come out with his little electric cart-picker-upper and round them all up to take back.

And while I hate to give out my secrets, I’ll share a trick of the trade—park next to a cart corral.

This serves a couple of purposes, one being the fact that it’s convenient to return your cart immediately upon shopping completion. But if you’re anything like me and often find yourself wandering around the parking lot pretending you meant to walk up and down every aisle before settling back to your car, parking by a cart corral at least narrows down the options of where your car actually is.

You’re welcome.

But the bottom line is the carts have a home. Help them find their home or be cast as a cart corral corrupter and feel much shame.

And for god’s sake, wash your produce.

Like the blog? Buy the book.

Easy as 1, 2, 3

When given a set of instructions, my OCD kicks into overdrive and I find myself reading them over and over until I have them basically memorized and then refer back every five seconds to check what I’ve read and what I should do.

This does not mean I am good with them, as you know, but it’s not for lack of preparation. I maintain that I simply lack the gene that allows for implementation.

However, it’s become apparent that many adults these days lack the preparation, the implementation and the desire to actually read the instructions that are given to them.

Some examples, you say?

I have at least three.

Four-Way Stops

This is not nuclear physics. Basically the first vehicle to arrive at a complete stop is the first vehicle allowed to leave the stop sign. 

But yet people either speed right through or sit there and appear to contemplate the angle of the sun in proportion to the trajectory of the moon before concluding they should go — a decision often influenced by the fact everyone is waving them on with one select finger or honking their horns.

I know the rules and will stand my ground with one exception: If your car is held together with bungee cords and duct tape, I will always yield to you. You clearly have nothing to lose.

Email

Hypothetically speaking, let’s say I send out an email that ends with, “I have attached the form with the deadline included. Thanks, Abby.” Please note that my name is also included in the signature at the bottom of the email and in the return email address.

I can’t tell you the number of times I get a reply along the lines of, “Hi Anny/Amy/Bob! Can you please send me the form and let me know when the deadline is?”

And…headdesk.

This shows a blatant lack of effort and respect for my time, and also that of Anny/Amy/Bob, wherever and whoever they may be. And for the love of avocados, if it instructs, “Reply back directly and do not ‘reply all.’” Do not “reply all.” In fact, do not ever “reply all.”

Ever.

Self Checkouts

Despite the fact that the machine tells you what to do step-by-step both visually and out loud, it seems “scan item,” “place item in the bag” and “insert money” is interpreted as “poke at the screen for 5 minutes,” “yell about how you can’t find the picture of the bright yellow fruit on the screen” and “try to cram wrinkled dollar bills into the slot while swearing.”

And yet these people keep returning to the self checkout lanes as if actual interaction with the cashier is too much of an inconvenience.

I suppose if nothing else, watching these people justifies the necessity of the “do not eat” warning labels on silica gel packs.

Let’s hope that they follow directions.

Like the blog?  Buy the book.

Driving Aunt Mable

I’ve conducted research in a few different states and have come to the conclusion that riding in a taxi should be considered an extreme sport.

Taxi cab sign

Most cab drivers not only drive defensively, but get defensive when anyone goes only a minimum of 10 mph over the speed limit or fails to fly through yellow lights and stop signs.

But looking past the germ factor and high risk of whiplash and death, I actually kind of enjoy taking a cab when I travel. Not to generalize, but most big city drivers are foreign and have a really interesting story about coming to America from a war-torn town to escape and find a better life.

I’m nosy and I ask.

That’s what made my last cab ride to the airport in Dallas a bit interesting, as instead of the skinny guy from India who offered me sunflower seeds and chanting music earlier in the week, I had Aunt Mable.

When the valet at the hotel opened up the door to the minivan taxi, I was presented with an extremely large black woman dressed as if she were going to the prom, squeezed in behind her seatbelt like a pillow wrapped in twine.

She swiveled her head back to look at me, large rainbow-colored hoop earrings swinging side to side, and pointed with a florescent colored nail. “You ready to ride with Aunt Mable, sweetheart?”

I’m not going to lie. I was a little excited, as this one seemed like she was fun.

I was putting on my seatbelt when Aunt Mable turned down the gospel music to say, “Sweet baby Jesus! Tell me you buckled up back there. Safety first, sweetheart, safety first. Mm-hmm.”

This is what we call “foreshadowing.”

As I settled in and we pulled away, it became clear that according to Aunt Mable, the Dallas highways at 6:30 am on a Sunday morning magically transform into the Autobahn. While I couldn’t see it from the back, I imagined a pudgy lead foot stuffed into a sequined pump like a sausage putting the pedal to the metal.

We quickly zoomed to 60, 70 and then 80 mph through the darkness, making small talk as the Whataburgers and John Deere dealerships flew by in a blur. I found out she was from Dallas and “praise sweet baby Jesus,” had six kids. She found out I was in town for the balloon convention and told me she saw it on the news, asking if they made those fancy dresses in a size to fit Aunt Mable.

I’m still not sure she was kidding.

After breaking the sound barrier, we arrived at the airport. Since my airline had three terminals and I was unsure which one I was at, she decided we would stop and ask the skycap because, “You choose to ride with Aunt Mable, you get the whole package, sweetheart. No ma’am, you not gonna wander around that airport like a lost puppy.”

So after the skycap directed us to my terminal and I paid, she handed me my receipt and a butterscotch candy from a bag she kept in between the seats—along with a fire extinguisher, an air freshener and what looked to be a Harlequin romance novel.

“You’re on your own with the bags,” Aunt Mable informed me. “That ain’t part of the package sweetheart, as the good lord done blessed me with good taste but a bad hip!”

So I grabbed my bags from the back and watched her cab speed off into the rising sun like a superhero bumblebee before preparing to strip down for my walk through security.

Safety first, sweetheart, safety first.

Like the blog? Buy the book.