Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Truth About Driving in Greenville

1. Don't look for left-turn lanes. There might be one, if you're lucky. There might not.

Just realize that left-turn lanes are considered highly optional, and most of the people here choose their incredible "sit in a regular lane because there's oncoming traffic until the light is yellow and make that left turn as fast as you can JUST BEFORE the light turns red, after the oncoming traffic has already stopped".

Sometimes, there is a left-turn lane! Hurray! But... then you realize there still isn't any left-turn light. The logic here is a little mystifying. But at least all the people trying to make that single last-minute high-speed swerve as the light turns red are all coralled into their own lane. However, if you get stuck behind a cautious, defensive driver who isn't willing to take the risk that they'll be hit by that single car that runs through the very tail of the yellow light... you could sit in that happy little left turn lane all day, waiting for the driver at the front to get brave and try to make it.

It's... exciting.

I feel like I'm cheering all the left-turn people on.

"Go little car go!"

Sometimes I want to get out of my car, go up to the car at the front of the lane, tap on their window, and politely ask them if they could just drive down to the next left-turn light and turn around and come back the other way, since this way isn't getting us anywhere at all.

2. A larger population (this is a city, really, a true city; not McLean's little sleepy streets or Carbondale's angry college students) means a larger population of people who cannot drive. Be aware of this at all times. Any time you start to relax, rest assured someone will just suddenly change lanes without signaling while running a red light and speeding... just to keep you on your toes.

(Name the movie I just quoted and you get... the knowledge that you know stuff about movies! Yay!)

Don't get me wrong, I don't think there are worse drivers here overall than in Carbondale. You have to keep in mind, in Carbondale we would routinely realize driving was a lot safer during the summer when nearly all of the living-on-campus students were gone. It was often bliss, to just drive along on a road full of townies. Then, come August, I'd be dodging side-swipes while the people in the other car are trying to text while driving, drinking a soda, painting a Picasso copy... you know. Doing a lot of things one should probably be careful about while behind the wheel of what I affectionately like to call "screaming metal deathtraps."

Really, drivers in Greenville are probably much better, overall.

There's really no 'probably' about it. They just are.

One of the main things I have noticed, both in cars and just in my interactions with people, is the fact that there is a niceness that permeates things that is a little unusual. Well, yes, of course at the bookstore cafe I still have customers who make me want to rip my hair out, that's a fact of life. There are days at work where customers come in looking for a fight, and we are the hapless service industry robots who get to have target signs painted on us.

Nonetheless, people overall seem to be nicer. Especially driving. I've never seen so many examples in my life of someone trying to pull out onto a road and the people stuck in traffic on that road stopping to let them get in. Every time I need to pull out of a gas station to go home during rush-hour and someone seriously stops their car so I can pull out going the other way without having to sit forever, I'm not sure if I really believe it. I give them a grateful wave, full of some vague surprise I can't explain, and try to figure out what I've done to deserve this kindness. I have to remind myself I am not driving in Bloomington-Normal, back in Illinois, which is legendarily full of angry people who don't want to let anyone get anywhere faster than they do... or in Carbondale, full of distracted (and distractable) college students trying to do six things at once because paying attention to one thing is boring.

Every time I get stuck dealing with a driver who is irrational or driving badly here, I realize that it's less rare that my road rage flares up since I got here.

That's definitely a good thing.

3. When we (finally) got our license plates switched over to SC, I noticed people no longer drove around me as though I might at any second just decide to go careening into a wall. Apparently people did not trust my Illinois plates.

Now that I am an official Driver of South Carolina, people are much less cautious.

I'm going to consider that positive.

4. This has nothing to do with driving, actually, but Jason pointed out to me that I have recently used both the word "ain't" and the contraction "y'all" in this blog within the last month. He seems to think this is amusing. I tried to point out that we use "ain't" back in Illinois, too, and he'd best save this laughing until I start rounding out my consonants all slow and soft like southerners do or calling everyone 'sweetheart'.

I will admit I have said "bless her heart" at least once since I got here that was not in jest.

Well, I mean, it was a little in jest.

I just didn't realize I was saying it 'til I had.

Don't judge me.

Sorry about no photos today... it just hasn't been a good picture week for me. I have taken photos, mostly of various friends of mine chatting, but I just don't have any really good ones to work with. We'll see what happens in the next couple of days. It's raining outside, but sometimes rain has netted me some pretty pretty things, so we'll see. Maybe I'll go for a walk while Jason sleeps.

5. This also has nothing to do with driving, but I want to end on this note:

A week from now I'll be waking up in New York City.

That is all.

1 comment:

  1. Bob has made all of these revelations about Pennsylvania- it must be an East Coast thing. He frequently laments the lack of left hand turning lanes, and got followed by cops several times before he changed his plates over. And we frequently DO turn right onto a main road just so we can turn left at an ebb in traffic and turn around.

    When he gets superior, I just remind him that yellow lights in IL are a whopping half second long (I'm sure you've learned out here that yellow means 3 more cars can get through, in c-dale it meant slam the brakes), and I don't think any state can top the intersection by 710 bookstore in the dale either. I tried to describe it to my friends once after we got into an accident in that intersection (there's 2 lanes going each way here, and a two lane one way street here, a looping turn here, and another one way there and a stop sign in the middle of it all...). They asked me to just take a picture. lol

    P.S. Liar Liar ;p


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