English Driving: Not for the Timid or the Rational
Well, we did it. We moved to England from the US about four months ago and it's been... intense. I'm not sure what I thought it was gonna be like. I mean, we've visited Matt's family here a couple times, and I've adjusted well during those trips. I even ate all the weird meat and potato dishes without incident, inclusive of the nasty "mushy" peas (that's what they call them. On the menu: mushy peas.). #appetizing
I dunno; maybe I thought living here would be the exact same. Thrilling and strange, but with an out. In reality, though, obviously, not the case.
The big, colossal difference, is the driving. It's straight-up counter-intuitive and, frankly, wrong on every level.
I know what you're thinking, You're just driving on the totally wrong side of the road and on the totally wrong side of the car. Lemme tell you, until you do it, you cannot say "just" in front of that comment. Because that left-side driving, in and of itself, is no joke and not okay. It's immoral. Indecent. Inappropriate. Erroneous. Just look up the word "wrong" on any thesaurus app, and all those words apply.
But there's way more to it.
The abundance of signs and on-the-pavement messages are diabolical. Incidentally, all the pavement messages are facing the wrong way, which makes you think that you’re going the wrong way, but in reality, they’re telling those who are actually going the wrong way to slow down and sort their shit out.
Speaking as someone with self-diagnosed semi-ADHD, I have no idea where to look when I'm behind the wheel. It’s too much info and it’s everywhere. But I do know that if any messaging written on the road is facing me, I’m about to die.
And, there's even way way more to it than that. You'd think the profane use of road signs would tend to create less chaos, better driving, an overall feeling of confidence to those wondering where they're going and what's ahead of them on the roadway.
You would be very mistaken, however, if this is what you thought because these signs are, in fact, intended to nurture a relationship between driver and driving that amounts to unholiness. Carnage. Unwavering confusion.
Don’t take my word for it. Below are some signs for you to embed into your soul. You make an educated decision on my sanity and logic.
No boomerangs allowed.
Rabbit vibrators allowed.
Get excited about anything, doesn't really matter what.
Lightening may come out of your birdfeeder.
We invite people with unfortunate mustaches.
We have nothing to say to you right now.
You can go any way you want unless you’re trying to get in here.
Enter if you want your car to blow up.
Only the bowlegged allowed.
Wear a corset because we’re about to get medieval on your ass.
Literally, no one knows what this means.
Self-explanatory: falling motorcycles.
This sign gets a nod because it actually really, truly means keep going; you’re doing great, don’t stop. (What. Is. Happening?)
You have to get it now. You have to understand. Is it me? What are these signs? Do you need to tell us that there’s a turn coming before every turn? Americans don’t do that. We don’t need that. My kids’ school is less than a mile from our house, and there are 68 there’s-a-turn-coming-up signs on the way. 68. 69 if you count the one I hit.
Let us talk about the width of these roads. They’re so minuscule that my ass hasn’t unclenched since we’ve moved here. My entire body ends up in the passenger seat while I’m driving in an effort to avoid certain death by oncoming traffic (that's passing entirely oblivious to the excess of hazards).
How can my body end up in the passenger seat? I don't know. But, it's possible. My feet and hands are where they're supposed to be, it's just my body that's abandoning its official driver-side post. I chalk it up to fight-or-flight. I can almost hear it yelling "Every man for himself!" as it cowers back against the passenger seat and leaves my poor appendages to stare into the abyss.
Oh, and the national speed limit is 60 mph on these made-for-mouse-car roads. Wanna guess what the sign is for the national speed limit?
Why? Who the fuck knows? I guess just writing 60 on it would make too much sense?
And you can bet your sweet ass that these England people are driving their cars at 60 mph down these single-file-for-bicycles sized roads.
But also, there’s no dedicated place to pull over. No shoulder or shoulder equivalent for safety when a car is coming at you down a one-car-at-a-time road at
mph. So, you have to just pull off the road into the wild. And it is wild. I pulled up right next to a fox the other day who didn’t even move. He just looked at me, then at the horse next to him, and mouthed “Americans.” Unfazed. I shit you not.
Don't even get me started on the roundabouts. When it comes to those things, I just pull out, close my eyes, and hope for the best. You may be wondering how I can maneuver a car with my eyes closed? It’s the honking. The honking tells me where the other cars are. My sense of hearing is significantly heightened during these times.
The punch line to all of this is that I have to take a driving test. Mmm-hmmm. With another human judging me. Inside the car. Taking notes. You’d think I’d be used to driving-judgment by now having driven my husband and children around and actually hearing their scared facial expressions in my ears.
And, Axl tentatively whispering to Parker, as he takes her hand, "I think we'll be okay today. Keep your eyes shut." Nothing makes them love each other more than the momentary fear of annihilation on the way to school every morning.
Matt has screamed like a woman on a handful of occasions while I’m driving, but I’m not deterred. Yes, there's the daily, "Stop off-roading!" yelled in my direction as I'm carefully trying to navigate the unpredictable terrain. But, that's totally illogical because it's all off-roading. The roads are made of off-road. It's not smooth. It's not blacktop. It's a bunch of dirt and leaves thrown down and held together with horse shit.
And I see you, England drivers. The way you look at me, a grown woman, who has the “L” plates on the car. The L being for learning, of course. Yes, these are usually used by 15-year-olds but you people and your finicky, irrational attitude towards robots have me completely unhinged.
Oh! Also, there will be parallel parking on this test. Not sure if you know this, but parallel parking is considered an Olympic sport here. You should see it. I watch in awe and admiration. Then I vomit.
The joke’s on you though, England drivers (and walkers and bikers), I may not be super stable with the driving just yet but I’ve got all the insurances. In fact, that's exactly what I said when I called the agency up, "Give me 'em all. Every last one. Do you have insurance for falling motorcycles? I'm gonna need that one for sure... with my luck..."
Sooo... Maybe y'all should go ahead and get your car insurance updated too. Just in case you come across a 46-year-old 'merican driving a car with L plates. Just a thought.