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Bringing humor to the many challenges of parenting, driving a gigantic SUV full of smelly boys and their friends, letting go of the idea of perfection and tackling middle age all serve as my inspiration. We all have common experiences, I just share my take on the absurdity of every... Read more

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Learning Curve II

maryland drivers manual cover

The Written Rules of the Road

A few months ago I wrote about Mac getting his Learner’s Permit. Now with some practice under our belts and many, many conversations about the literal interpretation of the Driver’s Manual, it is time to share the unwritten rules of the road.

Unwritten Rule I: The Shameful Stare

It is the obligation of every driver to bestow the shameful stare on any driver who exhibits stupidity regarding the rules of the road. Deserving behavior includes driving ten miles below the speed limit, unsafe lane changes, sudden full stops and more. The stare consists of slowing alongside the offender as one passes them and staring with mouth open and eyes wide. Utter disbelief is the emotion we are shooting for here. The stare may be replaced at any time with head shaking and eye rolling.

**Disclaimer: If the driver is an elderly person or handicapped, great restraint must be used. As difficult as it is, you must white knuckle the wheel, grimace and drive on**

Unwritten Rule II: Rev Retribution

It is the obligation of every driver to gun the engine as soon as someone behind them beeps at them. If you are the recipient of a horn blow—no matter how subtle—you must immediately put the pedal to the metal and show that loser that you CAN drive fast you just CHOSE not to in that moment. They will surely see the error in their ways as soon they watch you speed away.

Unwritten Rule III: The Silent Scramble

It is the obligation of every driver to turn down the radio as soon as they realize they are lost. In lieu of stopping and asking directions you must comply with the navigation system and make at least 2 legal—or sometimes illegal U-turns—before you surrender and realize that the nav is never going to recover from this situation. Again, instead of asking for directions, you enter the address again in the nav using slightly different information. Still hopelessly lost, you then must stop at a gas station and idle while you type the information into Google Maps instead of asking for directions. Only after an hour of circling do you finally stop and ask for assistance at which time you feel obligated to purchase something. You have now succeeded in losing time and money.

Unwritten Rule IV:  Secret Stop-Light Behavior

It is the obligation of every driver to develop secret stop-light behavior. Some people put on make-up, others sneak a peek at their phones, many grab a bite to eat, some finish getting dressed and others just pick their nose. But whatever behavior you choose, choose wisely because these covert actions are not so secret unless you have tinted windows. Every experienced driver can regale you with stop-light stories. The guys in the big box trucks and semis have a birds-eye view of everything you do and it makes their day.

Unwritten Rule V: Confirming Conversations

It is the obligation of every driver to confirm the audacity of surrounding drivers with the passengers in the car. Only by reaffirming your indignity can you fully experience the injustices of driving on the open road. Recount the incident to those in the car, sparing no detail, and watch as they nod in agreement and silent verification of your outrage. If driving alone, rant about the driver out loud as if the other ridiculous drivers can hear you. This does not make you crazy, it is an accepted normal driving process.

Unwritten Rule VI: Police Paranoia

It is the obligation of every driver to increase their heart rate by at least 50 percent any time they see a police officer behind them. Even if you are obeying every single rule of the road, you will have a momentary panic attack that you are going to be pulled over. This is also an excellent time to turn down the radio. You then focus on appearing breezy and casual as you drive although you are literally counting the seconds until the officer passes you and moves on to the next target. Most drivers will also slow down to a snail’s pace to force the police car to pass them.  Officer will then treat you to Rule I (see above) and you will be totally OK with it.

Because Mac is a young driver, I will let him figure out the arm flailing and hand gestures that are available to him. That is one lesson I am not willing to tackle.

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Maureen Stiles

About Maureen Stiles

Maureen is the author of the blog Magnificence in the Mundane.
You can read her monthly column at The Town Courier.


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