The worst drivers in the country this year are here in New York City, according to GMAC Insurance's annual National Driver Test. And as a recently transplanted Texan, who drives a variation of box trucks and sometimes a Honda Element for work, I concur. The drivers here are God awful. They stop in the intersection. They stop in the middle of the road. They stop when they're supposed to go and they go when they're supposed to stop. They cut people off. They slam on their brakes. Then they speed off. They don't use their blinkers when they're supposed to, then they leave them on and they never turn. They move to the right lane, then back to the left lane, then back to the right, then back to the left lane again, all in a futile attempt to gain one car length in a never ending traffic jam. And they honk. They honk, and they honk, and they honk! And still, they don't get anywhere.
The traffic I can handle – most days – if I simply pretend that I don't care if I ever get where I'm going. The honking, on the other hand, becomes nerve rattling, especially when I'm sleeping at three o' clock in the morning and some frustrated drivers blaring horn wakes me up from the street below. Bleary eyed and confused as to why I'm being honked at in my bed I fall back to sleep dreaming that the City of New York has put me in charge of enforcing the no honking law. The rest of the night I weave through streets in my little traffic scooter slapping tickets on the windshields of transgressors. And I am happy. I am very happy.
I try to refrain from using my horn as much as possible when I'm driving. But sometimes I just can't help it, like at the end of a long day when a mini van dragging a felafel cart behind it swerves across three lanes of traffic to cut me off. That's usually when I lose it and blast the guy with my horn, then tailgate him for a good block or so while flipping him the bird. That exact scenario usually happens daily.
But I'm getting used to it all and gradually settling in as a New Yorker in the process. I read a quote in New York magazine not to long ago in my therapists waiting area (yeah I need therapy after driving in this City) by the comedian Dennis Leary about what makes someone a real New Yorker. He said something to the effect that if the pope mobile cut a real New Yorker off in traffic he'd flip him the bird. I've recently mastered a technique of honking and flipping the bird at the same that I'd use on the pope in a heartbeat if he tried to pull that on me.
Yeah, I'm settling in.