Tuesday, February 16, 2010

1-800-How's My Driving.....

On two separate occasions, I have called to report commercial-type drivers for infractions. One of them I still feel bad about.

When I taught at my first nontraditional school, we also had nontraditional hours. Students went to school from 10:00 to 5:00 Monday through Thursday. We worked until 8:00 PM to accommodate night school students from the two county high schools, and we were off on Fridays. Sounds like a dream schedule. It isn't all it's cracked up to be, though. For one thing, the house was always dark when I came home, particularly in the winter. And Friday was the day that everything ELSE had to be scheduled: hair appointments, dental appointments, doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, dry cleaning. Because most of those places were long closed by the time I got out of school at night.

I still got up at 5:00 AM when Hubby got up to go to work, though, so I had tons of time in the mornings to do whatever I wanted. It came in pretty handy when I was writing my dissertation. After I finished my doctorate and didn't know what to do with all that extra time on my hands, I got into the habit of riding my bike in the mornings a couple of times a week. I could get in a decent 10- or 15-mile ride, come home and shower, and still get to school by 10:00.

The only small problem was that in one direction from our house is a major highway that I avoid like the plague when I'm on my bicycle, because some drivers apparently have mistaken it for Atlanta Motor Speedway without the banked turns. In the other direction are both an elementary school and a middle school.

One morning I was riding along, minding my own business, hugging that white line to the point of risking running off the road, when a school bus came up behind me. And a car was approaching from the other direction. Now the law in our state says that a bicycle is a vehicle -- in my case, a veeerrrrrrrryyyyyyy slllllooooooooowwwww vehicle, but a vehicle nonetheless. The bus driver should have treated me just like a car, and stopped/slowed down behind me until the approaching car passed.

But nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

She went right on about her business, the bus almost brushing my elbow, my front tire clinging perilously to the little scrap of pavement I had left.

I was pissed. That is putting it mildly.

I went ahead and made my loop, however, and probably put in a couple of extra miles in my allotted time. Adrenaline can do awesome things to one's cycling stats.

Then I headed home about 45 minutes to an hour later, feeling good about getting my ride in and celebrating the fact that I had lived through a scary moment.

Until I was almost run off the road again.

By a school bus.

The same freakin' school bus from earlier.

I might have forgiven her once, but twice? In the same morning?

I called the county transportation office and made my complaint, but I was pretty sure nothing would be done about it, since she hadn't actually killed me and all. Especially when the woman on the phone, who was nice enough but apparently equally ignorant, asked me, "So......I've always wondered..... Which side are bicycles SUPPOSED to ride on?"


That is NOT the time I felt bad about calling in on a driver. I would have felt completely justified if the woman had lost her job. I almost lost a heck of a lot more than that.

The other time, although the driver was clearly at fault, I probably should have allowed myself some time to think about it.

On my route to my current school, I make a turn onto a road that parallels another. You have to turn off the first road, a major road, cross a railroad track, and then make an immediate turn onto the secondary road. There are stop signs at the entrance from the railroad crossing for cars going both directions on the secondary road. Incoming cars crossing the railroad track have the right of way.

A fact clearly lost on the cable company truck driver.

I made the turn, crossed the track, saw him stopped at the stop sign, and then had to slam on brakes as he started off without allowing me to turn. I threw up my hands in a "What are you DOING?" gesture, and he threw his up in a "What's YOUR problem?" gesture. Or it may have been something worse. I'm not sure.


I picked up my cell phone and called in to report him. Gave the dispatcher his truck number, the road name, the direction he was traveling, and the fact that he had failed to yield the right of way.

I was steaming.

When I looked back on it later, though, I felt guilty. In reality, I was steaming because I had just spent 35 minutes on the phone with our internet provider, trying to convince them that I just couldn't wait an indefinite length of time for them to amble out there and restore our internet service.

But I took it out on the cable company driver. And he was probably just ignorant of the fact that incoming cars had the right of way. I was having a bad morning. His pulling out in front of me might have delayed me for .... oh .... about 5 seconds. And I called in and tattled on him like he shot my dog or something.

I hope he didn't get fired for that. I hope it wasn't like his sixth offense or something. I hope his wife didn't leave him and his baby have to go on welfare because I caused him to lose his job.

I hope he can forgive me for having a bad morning and taking it out on him.

The bus driver?

I hope she has to walk through hell wearing gasoline drawers.

I'm just sayin'.

1 comment:

Maggie said...

The bus driver is in a version of Hell that is apparently not deep enough!