I think I need to take a moment and find a way to be more patient. Each new day is busier than the previous one, and I seem to want to keep checking my “to-do” list and try to be finished earlier and earlier.
I’ve noticed lately that many drivers are in a rush and it’s not even rush hour. I’ve always paid attention with regard to driving and traffic. I obey the law of the land. Whether it’s the speed limit or being aware of other drivers, I try to be respectful. It’s rather silly to see drivers on The Old Road speed up and change lanes to keep their pace and try to pass everyone, only to see them moments later when the rest of us get to the red light that they sped up to. I get it, we have more people and that means more traffic. What used to take 20 minutes round-trip now takes 40 minutes. Time is precious and with all of the technology, social media, emails, and life stuff going on, we are constantly inundated.
But what I find particularly disturbing is that many drivers will take a chance and turn left with nary a care for the upcoming car or cars that have the right of way. I wondered if perhaps there was a TikTok video challenging drivers to play chicken?
I remember when people stopped at the red light and looked to make sure it was safe to make the turn. I was taught that California rolling stops are wrong, and I remember my driver’s training instructor telling us that at a red light, if you were allowed to turn right on a red and it was clear, to do the one, one thousand, two, one thousand, three, one thousand rule, which in essence was the three-second rule, thus, allowing a full stop before proceeding. Nowadays, it’s hit or miss if other drivers do that.
A few years ago, I had a company car. It was a Prius and so many friends of mine would poke fun at me and giggle asking me if I was one of those drivers as they rolled their eyes and wanted to know if it could go faster than 60 mph on the freeway, and I said, “Yes, of course!” I even started my own little Prius signal. I would make a P with my hands and say, “Prius Nation” and I continued my little Prius sign for all who cared to see. It was kind of like the hand wave of the 1980s when you had a Corvette and saw another driver in a Corvette, though a lot eco-friendlier.
I remember driving north on the 5 freeway in my Prius and my husband was with me, and I was in the middle lane, and he asked me if the car could go any faster. I said, “What’s the issue, I’m with the flow of traffic?”
And he continued, “Jennifer, the car ahead of you is in another state, that’s how slow you are.” So, I signaled to get over to the next lane, and I was going 65 mph and suddenly I saw a California Highway Patrol car signal and get behind me. I told my husband, if I get a ticket because you wanted me to drive faster, then I’m going to be so mad. And then the CHP signaled and moved to the fast lane to get the person aka “speed racer” who was going 70-mph-plus.
I was a little perturbed at my husband because that wasn’t the first time he had commented on my driving. Once after traveling back from visiting our son in college, we were leaving Burbank airport and he kept saying, turn here, go straight, and then at the next light make a right. I stopped at the light, did the three-second rule and turned. Suddenly, I saw in my rear-view mirror, a police officer on a motorcycle, and his lights were flashing. I told my husband, I’m getting pulled over and we spoke to each other with straight lips and our teeth clenched together, and he asked me if I had any decals on my car that showed support for those in law enforcement.
Let me segue for a moment. At the time I was driving my minivan that had decals and stickers on each side of my rear window. The decals paid homage to the colleges and high schools that our kids went to, and the sports that they each participated in. I had a Foo Fighters decal, and a KROQ one, too. I had one from Roche Harbor, where our daughter got married, and an angel with wings decal. I have the COEXIST one, and one that says Believe There Is Good In The World and yes, I did have one supporting law enforcement.
I pulled over and rolled the window down and the officer asked me for my license and registration and if I knew why I was being pulled over. I said, “No sir, I don’t.” He explained that I had made a right turn and there was a sign saying there was no right turn on a red light. I hadn’t noticed that, in part because my husband was busy giving me directions. I apologized to the officer and explained we had just been visiting our son away at college. I continued that we had got on the plane at around 7 in the morning in Oregon, had a brief layover in San Francisco, and arrived in Burbank about 45 minutes ago and now we were heading home to be able to go to work after lunch.
I told him, I hadn’t seen the “no right turn” sign and had always made the right turn there in prior visits. He then explained that the sign was new, and that was why I had been able to do it before. Then something wonderful occurred: The kind officer let me go, he didn’t give me a citation, he understood that the traffic rules had recently changed. I thanked him and thanked him for his service.
And now back to the part I began with about needing to learn patience. Last week I was driving in the SCV and a man in a truck turned in front of me and I thought he cut me off. I was frustrated and thought, good grief not again. We ended up next to each other in different lanes and then I looked over as we drove past one of the local churches and he did the “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” sign. When I saw that, I was humbled, and in my heart, I whispered, “Dearest Lord, please forgive me, for who am I to think I am the SCV traffic controller.” I thought back to my early driver’s ed days when I was taught, “courtesy is contagious.”
I smiled at the other driver and thanked the man above for the much-needed reminder about what really matters.
Jennifer Danny is a Santa Clarita resident.