Weather or not

The weather, or changes in the weather, rather, seem to have an interesting effect on people who otherwise are only slightly dangerous drivers. They turn into panicked, steel caged, executioners. Every fall there’s an adjustment period. Perfectly sane folks purge all of their logic abilities and drive like lunatics at the first sight of water, ice or snow falling from the sky. Usually, hopefully, by the end of winter they’ve regained hand-eye-brain coordination. But right now we’re in the purge phase. And I’m scared.

The Peoples Republic of Pennsylvania, like many other states, allows one to pass a left turning vehicle on the right. This is a pretty retarded exception to the “don’t pass on the right” rule, but it does exist and people make liberal use of it. I’m accustomed to this and expect most others to behave accordingly. Three nights ago, approaching home, in the rain, I signaled to turn left onto my street and moved toward the center of the lane. There was a car about a block behind me. Seeing as there is usually plenty of room at this intersection to pass a car on the right, and I was on the bicycle, I expected this car to pass on the right. I heard the engine rev just before it passed me on the left. I was turning left, had the right of way, plenty of room to pass me on the right, yet this driver insisted on beating me to the punch and zinging around me on the left. I nearly dropped the bike.

The very next night. Snowing. An icy slush on the road. I opted to avoid the main road (where I was nearly clobbered the night before) and take a longer route. A car coming toward me made a U-turn into a parallel parking space on my side of the road and came to a complete stop. Fine. But as I approached the reverse lights came on and it backed into me lane, forcing me to swerve into the left lane. As I passed, the driver then maneuvered the car into a different parking space. WTF?

I have several observations about these two encounters. Both drivers were women, both were black, and both had a cellular phone stuck firmly to the ear. I imagine the phone had more to do with their stupidity and lack of observation than race and sex, but I found the coincidence interesting, regardless. Rain, snow, night, and a cell phone. Great. I’m gonna hole up in the basement and work on the Continental until Spring.

UPDATE – Christie asked me about the cars these women were driving. I hadn’t made the connection previously, but both were dark colored compact cars. As both incidents happened within a half mile of each other at about the same time of day (around 11 pm), it’s quite possible that I encountered the same idiot two nights in a row.

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