Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Merge Like a Zipper

“Have you ever noticed when you’re driving that anyone who’s driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac?”—George Carlin


"Merge Like a Zipper."


Some ingenious engineer created that sign for a bridge construction in Eugene, OR. (Or could it have been a copywriter?)


Their directive worked. 


People took turns. 


The traffic moved steadily.


Unlike downtown, where you can have your turn signal blinking for six blocks, people pretend they don't see it. I mentioned this to my contractor once—a friendly guy, and he says he does that. Hmm, I don't get it. 



Garrison Keillor motivated me to write this because I saw how people drive tells you something about their society. 


"Standing at 86th, waiting for a train," –Garrison Keillor


"The quickest way around town is the subway, where unemployed actors, highly paid CEOs, cleaning ladies, digital geniuses, and ordinary working stiffs merge in a river of humanity. There is no Business Class on the A train."


How cool is that?



Driving around the world:


Well, you can't drive around the world, but you can drive on parts of it. 


I am speaking generally, which I'm not supposed to do, but I'm doing it although I'm not supposed to. Did I just repeat myself?




Regarding seat belts, a Canadian sign says: "Be protected, not projected." And they have traffic calming zones in busy cities, plus people wait for you if you double park to receive or dislodge a passenger.







You know, as with many things, there is a spectrum of behaviors. It's not one size fits all, not with drivers, not with politics, not with religion, not with spirituality, not with most ideologies, not with drivers, and not with food.


(Hey, I like broccoli, but not restaurant broccoli. Restaurant broccoli must be the reason kids don't like broccoli. Broccoli must be prepared at home, fresh, steamed, slathered in butter, a squeeze of lemon on top, plus and pepper.)








One would imagine that California drivers, with their crowded freeways, four lanes going one way, four the other, 75 miles per hour, would be rude and uncaring to fellow drivers.


Nope. They wave you in if you are merging. They would wave a thank you if you have done them some courtesy. 


Sometimes, in large cities, people learn to look out for each other. Sometimes, they shoot them. It depends on the person. 


San Francisco:


I received more honks in San Francisco in one day than in the rest of my years. And I thought all the blood would run out of my leg when I had my foot on the brake at one of those hills. And then, standing at a San Francisco Crosswalk, someone honked at me. What the heck?




I was the designated driver when 2 friends and I toured Fermany's countryside. One friend loved to ask for directions so she could connect with a local. However, chances are they would tell us the wrong direction. Were they trying to confuse us, or did we get it wrong? 


We learned to go in the opposite direction they told us. We survived, and we never got permanently lost.


One fellow, when asked where a specific B & B was, said to follow him, and he drove his car there while we followed. 

On the Autobahn keep to the right, don't get in the way of those Mercades, BMW, and Porsche drivers.




(Don't drive. Take the subway or bus.) On the street in Britain, I asked a droll fellow, who became animated when I asked him directions to a specific Glass shop. He went into the middle of the street (residential area) to show me.


Their Underground is great, It's logical, easy to maneuver, and it encircles the city, so if you get lost you will just circle around again. All stops exit the circle.



Whoa. this looks like a spaceship


If you want to go somewhere from your stop, walk it it's close, take a bus if it's far. 


Be sure and walk--you are in a museum.




In town:


Honestly, they have regular cars too, and look at this bus.



In the Country:


They drive in the middle of the road, honk at turns, and scare the bejeeses out of tourists.




Be careful with your speed in Hawaii. It's a 55-mile-per-hour speed limit all over the Big Island. And after 10 p.m., be extra cautious. A policeman stopped me once. I don't know how fast I was going, but he let me go when he realized I lived there. He could see I had a passenger beside me and a baby crying in the back seat and told me the crazies were out after 10 p.m. 


After 6 p.m., an officer stood at the ATM. I asked why the security? "Well," he said, "we had a robbery 6 years ago." 


I lost my sense of direction in Hawaii. I blamed it on visiting South Point, the southernmost spot of the United States, where there are basalt columns known to interfere with airplane's navigation systems. It is a place where navigators reset their instruments.


  This was our driveway, "The Green Trail of Bliss."



Back to the Orchard


Driving has been vital to me since I was twelve, and my dad needed me to drive the truck in the orchard. I would move it from one pick-up stop to the next so he could load tree prunings or boxes of fruit. 


I had a driving paper route for a summer job while in high school where I drove my dad's pickup and delivered papers into those cylinder boxes specially made for newspapers. I could slip a rolled-up newspaper into one of those boxes on the fly.


Now, I'm lucky to maneuver out of the driveway.


As soon as I got out of high school and had a job, I bought a car. Wheels meant freedom to me. 


On Our Street:

We have a bark mobile on our street. It’s quite annoying if you are out walking your dog. A fellow in a pickup, window down, dog heads out the window, drives around the neighborhood to the tune of two dogs barking.

I guess that’s instead of walking his dogs. 

And it's an outing for the dogs.


 To read conversation #9 which started as "Conversations Under The Maple," please go to 




All conversations are on Substack and it's FREE.