Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mason-Dixon Driving

Our son and daughter have both learned to drive in Tennessee. My husband and I did not. I learned to drive in Hawaii where traffic was an art form and guard rails were unheard of on the twisting mountain roads—a Darwinist approach to weeding out the bad drivers. Calvin learned to drive in the Central Valley of California, which might have been fine if he hadn’t driven a delivery truck in downtown Los Angeles during his college days. Driving a delivery truck in downtown LA means being able to run your package up four flights of stairs and be back before the traffic inches forward. It also means wedging your delivery truck fit into a space designed for a subcompact—a difficult but not impossible challenge.

So, Ariel categorizes us as aggressive drivers. Calvin and I aren’t sure what that means. Okay, so we talk to other drivers and point out their faults—that’s just being helpful, right? We frequently explain to people that if they can’t talk on the cell phone and drive at the same time, then they pull over before they place a call. I think that’s encouraging them to do the right thing—even if the only people that can hear me are in our car. Another example of Southern driving that elicits emphatic words and gesticulations is the left turn. For example, when making a left turn at a green light without an arrow, does one pull into the intersection so that one can make sure he/she gets through the light? Of course, one does!! Otherwise, it may take several changes of lights to get through the intersection—dinner will never get done! My daughter, however, informs me that the Tennessee driver’s test says: “You are making a left turn at an intersection. Do you: 1. Rudely pull into the intersection, thus ensuring that you can make your turn when the light turns red. 2. Politely wait for a break in the traffic when you can make your turn without stopping.” Guess which answer is correct?! I’d pick number one, but the correct answer is two.

FYI, Calvin speaks to the traffic too when someone rudely doesn’t pull into the intersection and is going to make our dinner late! So, all you Southern drivers, when you're making a left turn, pull into the intersection when the light’s green! Thanks.


  1. And you don't think you're an "aggresive driver." sigh.

    Yes, the question really did have those adjectives before the answers. Just goes to show that polite Southern hospitality even extends to approving for driving permits any teens who can pick up on a grammatical hint.


  2. At least I do not honk my horn at people. I am still learning patience.

  3. I'll make sure to take your advice when I learn to drive.
    And does the Tennessee Driver's Test actually use the adverbs "rudely" and "politely?!"