Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hell is Other People

(Or as Jean-Paul Sartre originally said, "L'enfer, c'est les autres.")

Let me make one thing perfectly clear, as Richard Nixon was fond of saying. I know how to drive in the snow.

The thing is, no one else does.

We have had a very mild winter so far here in the wilds of suburban New Jersey. In fact, there was only one other storm that I recall, and it was before Christmas. But today the Gods of Winter decided we could not escape completely, and proceeded to dump snow followed by sleet and freezing rain on us.

In my usual fashion, I stayed late at work because the traffic is always worse earlier in the day when it snows. So I finally meandered out to discover a winter wonderland.

Unfortunately, because of the mild winter, I think people were even worse at driving in the snow than usual, from being out of practice. And my calculation was wrong: there were still plenty of them on the road. All driving badly.

My route home involves a rather poorly-planned interstate highway that goes up and down some major hills. This highway was not plowed. Nor was it salted. Traffic was bumper to bumper, crawling up and down the hills, with cars sliding back and forth and weaving in and out.

I took my place in the line and sluggishly moved along, wearing out my clutch as I repeatedly had to stop and then start again because people were driving so slowly. This is especially dangerous going uphill, since stopping results in getting stuck and spinning one's wheels. Luckily this did not actually happen to me and I managed to get off an exit and get onto the back roads - back roads that blessedly had no other cars on them.

From then on I was able to drive sensibly and consistently in the snow and made it home - an hour and fifteen minutes after I'd departed work. Usually it takes 20 minutes.

So in honor of my grueling trip home, here are some haikus, or haiku as I guess they are more properly called:

Snow and sleet falling
Many cars crawling uphill
Danger lurks ahead.

Don't stop here, idiot!
It only makes your wheels spin
Your car will get stuck.

Get your foot off your brake
While driving down the steep hill
You will only skid!

Get off of the road
If you don't know how to drive
You're holding me up.

Driving in the snow
Is not very hard to do
Following cars is.

15 comments:

M said...

That was the first haiku I've read that made use (great use, I might add) of the word "idiot." Very poetic. Keep it up, I loved it!

(Btw, I can't drive well in snow, or rain, or darkness come to think of it . .. but when there weather's good, watch out because I can drive well, and I have road rage if anyone holds me up!!

The Future Was Yesterday said...

God, does your post bring back memories of Michigan winters I don't miss at ALL!

This highway was not plowed. Nor was it salted. Traffic was bumper to bumper
That was their first mistake. Give the other driver room and time to get up momentum for the hill. Yes, it takes longer. However, you and your car make it home in one piece!

Drivers in snow just amaze me. They drive like "This isn't slippery this year. I can drive just as I do in July!" DUH!!!!+

Mauigirl said...

M, thanks, glad you liked it! And I can definitely relate to the road rage! (I'm not keen on driving in dark and rain either).

Future, you are right - you need the room to get up momentum. The problem is there were so many of these people afraid to go more than two miles an hour that inevitably people piled up behind them. And then, you're right, there were those in the SUVs who tried to pass and whiz by thinking that just because they could go fast, that they could also stop. It was a mess!

Randal Graves said...

It could be a lack of practice, but I think the mentality has simply changed. In the old days - damn kids! - it was "okay, it's going to snow like hell, we'll be careful."

Now, with the overhyped Uber-Doppler 2000 Meteorological Toaster Oven on the teevee, every storm becomes Death Storm [insert year] and people become afraid to drive and go too slow, or overcompensate and drive too fast, especially if they're in Manly SUV of Manly Manliness. With Man Treads.

I adore winter
but you all ruin it for me -
stay inside, jackass

Mauigirl said...

Randal, you nailed it - it's all about the hype. I was really cracking up when the media dubbed some blizzard we had in 2001 or 2002 as "The Storm of the Century." Hello??? We have like 98 years to go here?

"Manly SUV of Manly Manliness. With Man Treads." - love it! And I love your haiku!

FranIAm said...

You know I have a soft spot for your haiku. A sinus headache keeps me from being too clever. That and a sincere desire to visit all the blogs today- something I have not done in over a week.

Great post. It is crap up here in Albany too.

Ugh.

niCk (Mem Beth) said...

“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”

- George Carlin

That's always the problem, the streets are full of idiots and maniacs, and you're the only good driver on the road.

Mauigirl said...

Hi Fran, I'm trying to accomplish the same thing, as I got an unexpected day off from work due to a power failure in our building - probably due to the ice on the wires. I've been trying to make the rounds to all my blog friends!

Nick, you are so right! And I plead guilty to that attitude, for sure! (But of course, it's actually true, you know....;-) LOL!)

Sue J said...

I feel your pain! I was stuck in the ice storm just south of you. My normal drive home takes an hour. that's bad enough. Last night it was 3 and half hours!

Batocchio said...

I like that second one especially.

The Big Con site recently had a presidental campaign haiku contest.

(By the way, I thought Satre wrote "Les Autres" versus "les autres," which gives it a slightly different spin, but I'd have to doublecheck, and it's completely moot for your post, anyway!)

Mauigirl said...

Sue J, 3 and a half hours - wow, that's really bad. Makes my time a piece of cake...

Battocchio, thanks for the correction, I do think you are right on the capitalization, now that you mention it. And you're right, it has a slightly different meaning that way.

Glad you liked the haiku, will have to check out the Big Con site!

Suzi Riot said...

I love your haikus!

I've HAD it with winter driving. My drive yesterday was exactly what futurewasyesterday described.

DCup said...

I'm rolling. Not at your misery dealing with the nimrods who can't drive, but because I recognize myself in your impatience.

I love it that you used your anger to create haiku. Such a release!

Mauigirl said...

Suzi, glad you can identify. Although sorry at the same time! ;-)

DCup, yes, I'm finding haiku is a great way to express things - both good and bad!

odessa said...

hi mauigirl! i'm catching up with your posts. i love the last haiku. i've never driven in snow, but i can only imagine. geez, my palms even start sweating just by driving in the rain!