Commuter Chronicles #5: Those Crazy Drivers

So far, my posts related to commuting have primarily dealt with public transportation.  For this post, I’d like to highlight some of the bizarre things I’ve seen in the past year or so while either driving or carpooling to/from work.  I’m not talking about crazy illegal lane changes, people flipping the bird at other drivers, speeding or running red lights.  That – sadly is standing fare that I see practically everyday.

This list describes unusual scenarios I’ve encountered on the road in the past 12 months. I really didn’t want to traumatize myself by going back any further.

1. Breakfast on the Go

Food companies such as Kellogg’s and Emerald spend numerous dollars each year to convince we can eat breakfast on the go. These are usually in form of a cereal bar or packet of trail mix. However, one May morning in 2011, I observed a driver EATING CEREAL WITH MILK OUT OF A BOWL while driving.

What was more disturbing was that the road where this driver was steering and eating at the same was an especially curvy road.  Needless to say, I slowed down and kept a distance from this driver. Unfortunately, it left me driving behind…

2. The Work Truck with Loose Equipment

Note to those of you who drive a truck to a physically demanding job: make sure the items in the flatbed of your truck can’t easily fly out of your truck and into my windshield.  Okay, well in this case my windshield was okay but still, when something falls out of a moving vehicle onto the road, it can cause serious harm to everyone else on the road.

The truck in question appeared to be a company truck.  We were all driving uphill an an elevated and curvy road, when the flap on the back of the truck flung open.  The truck had one of those  orange Coleman coolers with spout to pour liquid. The cooler proceeded to fall out of the truck and bounce onto the asphalt.  The cooler bounced upward towards my car.  Had I not slowed down it would have hit my car. Instead it landed in front of my car and rolled downhill.

I have no idea where the cooler ended up, but at that point I was seriously thinking this was a sign I should turn around, go home and call in sick to work.  But, seeing as how I was already halfway to work, I just kept going, albeit at a much slower pace. Once I got to work I must have downed a liter of cold water and I also splashed cold water on my face to calm my nerves.

3.  The Budding Musician

Many people enjoy listening to music in the car, which is fine unless the music you are listening to is music you yourself are creating while driving the car.  Yes, I actually saw a man playing a flute in the car while sitting in the driver’s seat.  In this case, I was stopped at a red light as was the driver in question.

While sitting idle at the red light waiting to turn left, I turned my head slightly to my right and saw the driver sitting just one lane over playing a flute while waiting for the light to change.  When the light changed, the driver quickly threw the flute over to the passenger seat and sped off.  I understand practice makes perfect, but if you find that your only time to practice is in between stoplights,  you need to seriously examine your use of time.

4. I Need an IV, STAT!

Last February, while just minutes from my home, I saw a women pulled over into a public parking space.  She was sitting down in the driver’s seat with her feet planted firmly outside the car.  She had to sit facing towards the car door because she had an IV hooked up to her.  Yes, an IV, complete with an IV stand.  Now, thankfully she was off the road and not posing a danger to other drivers. However, this scenario made me wonder how many people experience medical issues while behind the wheel of a car and how many may not be able to pull out of traffic fast enough if they are really experiencing an emergency.

5. Me, My Bird and I

I’m not even sure how to describe this.  I tried my best to illustrate using this picture I made by slapping together various clip art pictures shown here on the left.

One rainy day while inches from pulling into the public parking spot in front of my apartment, I spotted a cyclist riding down the road.  He had to pass by my car while I waited to make the left turn into the parking spot, so I know I saw what I saw.   This wasn’t any normal bicyclist.  This man was steering with one hand, and holding a big bright multicolored umbrella in the other hand and wearing a bright yellow raincoat.  Hanging on the arm of the bicyclist was a birdcage with a parakeet.  I felt like those kids in the Cat in the Hat when they first spotted the Cat in the Hat walking down the street.

This really didn’t pose a driving risk, it was just something unusual. I think I was amazed that this cyclist could manage steering a bike in the rain while holding an umbrella and birdcage with a live bird without crashing headfirst into anything. This cyclist appeared to be driving his bike much better than 70% of the drivers I observed on the road in the rain that day.

6. Sidewalk Driver

This one is going back a little further than 12 months, but while composing this post it jumped into my head and I felt it necessary to share.  When I was working near the state capitol building a few years ago, I would often take walks about the state capitol building and general vicinity during my lunch hour.  One day while turning the southwest corner of the building, I turned my view to my right just to look across the street.  When I turned my view forward, I saw A CAR DRIVING DOWN THE SIDEWALK COMING RIGHT AT ME.  I quickly jumped off the sidewalk into the grassy area while the car sped past me and made a sharp left turn back into the road and down the next side street.

You see, the road I was walking adjacent to was a one way street and the car in question was traveling in the opposite direction. My best guess is this driver realized they made a turn into a one way street and figured the sidewalk was the easiest way to correct their course instead of, oh say, doing a quick U turn and traveling in the correct direction.  But that would have been too obvious I suppose, especially since traffic was light at the time.

It took me a few moments to move myself out of that spot.  Hours after I returned back to work  I was still trying to process if I really had almost been ran over by a car while walking on the sidewalk.

Well, what about you? What unusual sites have you seen while driving down the road? Please feel free to share your experience by leaving a comment.

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One thought on “Commuter Chronicles #5: Those Crazy Drivers

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