Recently I spoke of my selfless act of taking public transportation all the way to the SeaTac Airport. This was a bit of a planes, trains, and automobiles moment for me, but overall a great experience and a nice opportunity to rub shoulders with, in the immortal words of Mitt Romney, “poor people.” I did this partially out of deep respect for our environment, but mostly because I had a little more time to get to the airport and wasn’t toting a 2-year-old. Unlike San Francisco, Seattle is not a great public transit city, and driving is kind of the default for most (non-Capitol-Hill) residents. Yet somehow, this driving-centric culture has managed to produce the absolute worst drivers on earth. It’s safer and less hectic to drive in the streets of Bangalore or Kingston than it is on the streets of Seattle. I’m convinced it’s a reflection of the cities Scandinavian heritage and deeply entrenched passive-aggression.
Let’s start with the most egregious Seattle-driving faux pas’ and move on to the more benign and finally end with a blue sky idea that I’m sure our great leaders at the Department of Licensing will be very eager to adopt.
I have gotten amazingly adept at anticipating when some dumb driver ahead of me will abruptly stop because they suddenly realized, “hey wait, I need to take a left RIGHT HERE!” Jamming on the breaks without hitting a turn signal is the most common thing here and the most annoying
No pull forward!
I had a discussion with my friend Jacob about a year ago about this which led us to looking up the law online and while yes, I admit, it’s illegal, it’s common sense when you are sitting at a 4 way light and turning left to pull out into the intersection so the f*cking people behind you can pull around to go straight or right. AM I RIGHT? Why these people insist on following the letter of the law in this case is beyond me, considering they have perfected the California roll-stop. Most of these complaints are in regards to efficiency, which is highly valued in Seattle – folks are analytical here, and it’s completely inefficient to hold everyone up when all you need to do is pull a bit forward.
There is a term my brother uses, called, “Zipper it” for merging and it is perfectly descriptive of the proper way to merge (if not a bit annoying when you are driving and he’s yelling it at you). When merging, you aren’t rushing to try and get ahead of someone, or conversely, allowing 3 cars to go ahead of you – you are “zippering” every other car in. That’s how you merge.
I realize this is more of a rant than a blog post, but most of these errors could be avoided with a bit of what I like to call, anticipatory driving (c). When you are driving, you need to be anticipating what the drivers ahead and to the side of you will be doing. This is never more important, yet completely ignored, than it is in Seattle. Driving is a privilege that we bestow only upon the select few of us who can show up at DMV and not crash their car during a driving test – and it’s time we start appreciating it through anticipitaory driving (c) people!
I’d been thinking about putting these thoughts down in writing for a while now but the genesis for the post is my grandfather, Jim Sorensen, who turned 93 years old today. He taught me how to drive at the duck “club” when I was 13 years old, by anticipating when animals might run in front of the car and yelling at me if I attempted to swerve us off the levy to avoid hitting a cute bunny. I thought it was the coolest then and can thank him for my hyper-sensitivity to driving now. Happy Birthday Poppy! He’s a better driver now then most Seattleites could ever hope to be.
Finally, I want to suggest something ludicrous.
Test to text
I know that my rantings will do nothing to improve the efficacy of Seattle drivers. They are unabashedly sucky at driving. So I’d propose, a reward to those of us that are so awesome at driving – the ability to legally send text messages while driving. A special designation for those of us with the driving aptitude to steer with our knees and send texts and emails at the same time. There would have to be a test of course, but I’m wholly confident I’d nail it.