Friday, December 18, 2009

Red cars

Lily and I have a new running joke: red cars. I seem to be beset by them, in a bad way. Two days ago, I was tailgated by one when I was going 35 miles an hour on route 9 in Northampton, a 35 mile-an-hour zone. As I came up to the lights by the hospital the car honked wildly and then moved over into the lane next to me, although several cars behind me. As we pulled out at the green the cars in front of her zoomed ahead and she was directly behind me again. Ugh. I made a quick decision: I put my blinker on and moved over to the curb. She zoomed past and was promptly stuck behind another car going the speed limit. I lost her in downtown Florence traffic; I hope she arrived safely, wherever she was going.

#2. The next day I was going north on I-91 and a red car — I don’t know my cars and I don’t want to learn them, but it looked like the same kind and the same woman and it was certainly the same color -- pulled right up behind me in the left-hand lane. I have learned that I don’t need to hang out in that lane, that I should always move over. When I get into these situations I remind myself that driving is never about my ego, that it’s always about safety, mine and everyone else’s. So I moved into the right and the driver zoomed past.

#3. Coming up North King Street toward my neighborhood, just past the Damon Road intersection, the road goes from two lanes to one as it goes under I-91 and the left-hand lane turns into a turning lane for the Big Y shopping mall. It’s a dicey spot, because some cars in the right take the entrance to go north on the highway. So as you come through, you’re wondering if the car in the right is going to speed up for the highway or to try to race past you for some reason. And it’s not clear who has the right of way, the car in the left or the car in the right. If I’m ahead, I think I do, and if I’m behind I slow down, or even if I’m even. This time I could see the yes, red car in my rear-view mirror in the right lane trying to pull ahead of me. I stepped on the gas and pulled ahead. It just seemed safer than slowing way, way down to let them pass, but it’s always a judgment call.

#4. Yesterday, as Lily and I drove downtown to go Christmas shopping, we came to the Dunkin’ Donuts on King Street, where the road turns from two lanes to a left-hand turn-only lane. The car on the right speeds by while the car in the turn lane hangs out until it’s clear. A car — do you need to ask what color it was? — in the turn lane by mistake or on purpose was trying to go straight and was stuck in between the car turning left and me, driving legally on the right. I gave a short honk on my way by so the stuck car didn’t try to pull out in front of me. They gave a furious honk back but I was already ahead of them.

And more. Yes, more. But I’ll spare you. So I explained all this to Lily, sitting next to me, and now it’s a gag between us. Every time some car did something dumb last night, I’d say, look, it’s a red car! She picked up on it quickly so that when we went to A2Z, the fantastic science and toy store, she was the one who noticed that the badly parked van we pulled in next to in the lot was red. Duh.

So now this morning I said, don’t go all red car on me, just get your boots on! This morning I actually drove her to school because it was THREE DEGREES outside, or something like that. Definitely longies weather, longies and Smartwool socks and boots, not sneakers or light shoes. And the knee-length down coat, not the ski jacket. Baby, it’s cold outside! Put another log on the woodstove insert and sit close.

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