Monday, June 09, 2008
The roads up the mountain wind precipitously around hairpin turns and are often one lane. You do get accustomed to driving them. I am known for driving very carefully. I figure, why take chances--peril blinks up at me like a tiny toothed demon from the first step to my bedroom. That's were my big toenail met its end, so why tempt fate? I stay on my side of the road and wait on the layby for oncoming jalopies to pass even if I, by rules of etiquette have the right of way.
Everyone waves when they pass. That is an unspoken rule of the road. It is neighborly to wave in some form or another to the oncoming vehicle. They don't do this as you go further north. Some people do a full five-fingered flash of the hand. Others lift a single finger from the steering wheel and that's enough. I favor the single finger, because I'm nervous about disengaging the wheel to wave. Unless it's someone I know well and then I may wave like a fool.
But if I'm navigating a particularly treacherous stretch of road--I will sometimes not wave. Sometimes I'll try to wave, but realize I waved too late and the person couldn't have possibly seen my friendly polite gesture. I worry briefly after this happens.
Friend Scott used to put more meaning into the waving ritual than I think it deserves.
"So-and-so didn't wave at me, the bastard. They hate me," he'd say, flopping into my big chair, furrowed brow and nostrils flared in outrage.
"You don't know that," I'd say, attempting reason, "They may have been--you know--paying attention to the road."
"They didn't wave to me two days ago, either."
I'm a bit flabbergasted that Friend Scott actually keeps track of who waves and when. I imagine him having a little log book with everyone's name and when and where they neglected to wave. He takes it home and adds it up.
He even accuses me of giving him pissed off looks and not waving once.
"You had your face all screwed up and glared at me."
"Where was this?"
"Right out in front of my driveway. Off the bridge."
Okay, the bridge in front of Scott's ex-driveway is barely eight feet across. The potholes in it go clear through and you can see the creek below. It makes a 90 degree turn on the approach and a 90 degree turn leaving it. Essentially, you have to make a U-turn to cross this bridge. It has mangled, barely there guardrails--scarred by the folly of those who took their eyes off this bridge while crossing it.
"Oh, I wasn't mad at YOU that day," I say, cleverly pretending I recall the exact moment he's talking about. Like I remember.
Not that people can't be hostile on the roads here. I went through a period last year when people tried to run me off the road due to the slander campaign launched against me. Now there's just one little beat-up compact truck that tries to do this. They usually have a gang of scantily clad children and adults in the truck bed and shoot birds and obscene gestures at me. I find this pretty hilarious since I haven't a clue who they are and all their misplaced road rage is going for naught. Did I perhaps forget to wave at them?
There are instances where I passive-aggressively withhold "the wave". Some people drive on both sides of the road, cutting the edge off the curves by crossing the center line. Scott used to be really bad about this. If someone is on my side of the road coming toward me--no wave for you. I'll curse softly to myself, "Idiots," or perhaps something more colorful if it is a close miss. Honestly, I think it's a bit much to ask me to be polite when they do this. Don't you?