Driving in my new home state is a bit of a challenge.
I learned to drive in a place where the structure of the road and highway network is pretty simple. Odd numbered roads go primarily north and south. Even numbered highways, east and west. While some highways have “honorary names,” being called after a political figure or public hero, numbered highways are almost always referred to in common vernacular by their numbers. All ten digits of the usual numbering system are used, so each highway is fairly distinctive. If the roads have actual names, those names, with few exceptions for long roads that meander through numerous cities, stay the same. Someone might give you directions by saying something like, “Take the 203 freeway north to the Snickerdoodle Road exit, turn right on Snickerdoodle Road, drive about 3 miles to Hooligan Avenue, turn left and continue on Hooligan Avenue until you get to the second house on the right, 123 Hooligan Avenue.”
Not so much in my new state. To begin with, whoever it is that decides on the highway titles is pitifully lacking in imagination. It appears mandatory that each numbered highway must include the number “2” at least once in its title. This makes it harder to remember which highway you are supposed to be on because they all kind of sound of like. If that wasn’t bad enough, the highway system actually includes all kinds of offshoots and iterations of the same highway number. For instance, there may be an Interstate 221, County Road 221, State Route 221, and random other roads labeled “221” with various suffixes like 221A, 221B, and 221C. Roads often merge together, muddying the waters still more. Then, certain communities rail against the lack of creativity and give these numbered road(s) their own names. There is one such stretch of road that I travel rather frequently. At some points, it is Interstate 221, State Route 25, County Road 21, and Lemon Tree Trail- all at the same time. Even my GPS gets confused. The other day, I was trying to find an optometrist in a town about 40 miles south of my home. I finally gave up when I realized my GPS had led me about 60 miles towards the state line…. The state line to the NORTH.
In my old state, driving is a well-regulated, tidy business. There are helmet laws for motorcycles. All passengers must wear seat belts. All but the tiniest of intersections have traffic lights. U-turns are frowned upon. If U-turns are actually allowed at the intersection, there are usually signals to govern when drivers in a given lane can make a U-turn or left turn unimpeded by cross traffic.
In my new state, traffic lights are for sissies. Turning left from a stop sign across a major highway without traffic lights is an adventure. At first, I would sometimes drive literally miles out of my way to find a place I could turn around with the aid of a signal. Now, I just take a deep breath, say a prayer, and tool across six lanes of traffic like a madwoman. The citizenry also considers regulating U-turns to be some sort of infringement of personal liberty. I have yet to see a sign prohibiting a U-turn, no matter how narrow or wide the road. On roads that are so wide each side has its own zip code, people will make U-turns from anywhere on the highway. It doesn’t matter if there is a light or a left hand turn lane or anything. Sometimes, they will come to a stop in the fast lane and just wait until there is a break in oncoming traffic to make their U-turn.
Motorcyclists wear helmets at their own discretion. I think the wearing of helmets is considered more a fashion statement than a safety measure. A lot of people around here have bumper stickers and decals on their cars that proclaim proudly, “I watch for motorcycles.” I’m glad they do. A mind is a terrible thing to waste by splattering it all over the highway.
Adult passengers in the back seat are not required to wear seat belts. When I first heard about the adult passengers in the back seat not having to wear seatbelts, I was kind of amazed. Then, it made sense. If you don’t wear a seat belt, it is way easier to reach the gun that is also legal to carry around in your car.
They say life is a highway. In this state, however, I’m never sure which one I’m on or which direction I’m going. I think I have to get used to the idea that life’s highway is all about the journey, not the destination!
What are your thoughts? Don’t let life’s highway pass you by! Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have an awesome day!