“I bought my wife a new car. She called me and said there was water in the carburetor. I said, ‘Where’s the car?’ She said: ‘In the lake.’”— Henny Youngman
I haven’t been to Miami in eons. But when I passed through in 1976, I don’t recall anyone behind the wheel being an Adam Henry. You know. The police euphemism they use over the radio for a difficult personality?
They do these oddball surveys and for some reason, Miami is an annual sanctuary for the rudest drivers in America. Of 2,000 drivers queried from major cities, Miami got a big, fat “F” for behind-the-wheel manners.
“Drivers in the high-octane city are more likely to tailgate, honk their horns and make inappropriate gestures than their counterparts in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington, D.C.,” quoth a survey reported by The Associated Press.
AP didn’t go into detail about what exactly constitutes an “inappropriate gesture.” Perhaps it’s a dismissive wave of the hand when someone cuts in front of you while you affably chuckle: “Oh, you hurry person! Guess you have to be some place important!”
I confess. Although not hailing from the land of the Seminoles, I have been a rude driver in my day.
Years ago, I was at the north intersection of Orchard Village Road in my hometown of Santa Enchirito. I was about to make a left onto Lyons Avenue. The left arrow turned green and I’m not kidding you, the nanosecond — the NANOSECOND — it lit up, this big fat lady behind me was standing on her horn. I quickly glanced in my rear view mirror and you know what?
Her lips were pursed in frustration.
Sweet, decent me.
you know what I did? I didn’t move. Not an inch. I waited for the light to turn yellow, paused an instant more, then burned rubber through the intersection, leaving her stuck for one more traffic light cycle behind me.
THAT’S 45 seconds of her life she’ll never get back.
I don’t know if this is rude, but it sure was funny. Well. It struck me as funny.
Back in the 1960s, Soledad Canyon used to be a thin country road with a single lane in each direction. For some reason, I was by myself, driving a friend’s car. Way up in Canyon Country, I happened to take a quick peek and in the rear mirror, there was one of my good pals, Gail Chatham.
Gail was this monster of a young man with muscles coming out of everywhere. He was one of the football team captains and was wearing his letterman’s jacket, which wasn’t unusual. I suspected the gridiron hero slept in it.
Captain Chatham is driving behind me in his gutless blue Volkswagen bug and doesn’t recognize that I’m piloting the vehicle in front of him. It’s a lazy spring afternoon and I’m doing about 25 mph. Gay-Gay, as we called him then, didn’t want to do 25 mph. He wanted to do the posted 50. I’m wearing a smirk he can’t see and watching him in the mirror. A polite fellow, he’s not exactly tailgating me, but he’s close.
And he’s getting impatient. So, I slow down a bit.
This causes Gay-Gay to throw his hands up in frustration and lightly tap the horn a couple of times.
I slow down even more and now, the big football-playing behemoth is rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tatting on his effeminate VW honker.
Doing about 15 now, I stick my arm out the window and wave to Chatham that it’s OK to pass. Relieved, he waves a thank you and downshifts into second.
As Captain Gay-Gay moves into the oncoming lane to go around me, what do I do? I slowly speed up.
I know. What a jerk thing to do.
Chatham’s driving this 2-horsepower-compact bug that couldn’t pass a California poppy while falling off a cliff and he has to fall back behind.
A few seconds later, I motion Gail again for him to go around. Again, he pulls around to pass and again, I speed up.
We’re by the Saugus Speedway now and Gail is 12 shades of lipstick red. I can see that vein his forehead — from my rear view mirror — and it’s pulsing. He is both honking his horn AND flipping me off.
As a huge semi truck comes roaring by in the other direction, I jokingly motion for Gail to pass again and he doesn’t think this is funny. He’s making these distinctive gestures that were the precursor to Road Rage: “Pull Over To The Side Of The Road, I’m Going To Kick Your Asterisk!!”
Likewise, I gestured for him to pull over so I could kick HIS asterisk.
With no lights or stop signs on that long stretch of Soledad back then, what should have been a five-minute drive took 20. The road widened back then at ChiChi’s Pizza to two lanes and I slowed down to stop at the intersection. Gail pulls around. His face is distorted and he is red as The Daily Worker. He starts to yell something and freezes.
I gave Captain Gay-Gay a toodle-loo wave and winning smile and it was like a dirigible-full of gasses released from him. He sighed tiredly and laughed. He tried to make a fist and yell something, but was too fatigued and laughed again.
I just grinned.
In Miami or Saugus, would that be considered rude?
(SCV author John Boston also writes The Time Ranger & SCV History for your SCV Beacon. He’s has earned more than 100 major awards for writing, including being named, several times, America’s best humor, and, best serious columnist. Don’t forget to check out his national humor, entertainment & swashbuckling commentary website, America’s Humorist — http://www.johnbostonchronicles.com/) — © 2017 by John Boston. All rights reserved.
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