Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mama Bean drives a short car

I kind of hate getting stuck behind tall vehicles. Trucks, SUVs, vans, wheeled beasties. I drive a Civic. I cannot see around them. I don't understand why we might be going slower than the speed limit, or why the cars aren't moving when the light seems green or the neighbouring lane is moving or, whatever, why things are happening that shouldn't be, etc.

I learned to drive in short cars, Toyota sedans. Then my parents bought a Subaru station wagon, which felt like a lot of car after the Camry. (Totally random note: for all the years we owned the Camry, I thought it was pronounced cam-ray. I knew very well how it was spelled, but still called them Camrays for my whole life until university.) It took me awhile to figure out how to park the wagon. And then my dad and my brother bought me a Jeep Cherokee. Suddenly I was way up high and could see for dayz! But goodness, did that thing consume gas. No, not consume, devour. Not the best thing for my full-time student, part-time data enterer pocketbook. It's really easy to be a bully in an SUV because you can see all these things that the wee compact cars can't. It's probably a good thing I moved to Chiropractic college and was essentially car-less for three years, to break my bad habits. Then I got my Civic - always wanted a Civic. I love him (Kevin, his name is Kevin) and we zip around. But he is short. I don't like the big cars anymore...

When I started commuting to work in the Prairie Valley City, it seemed I was being annoyed by large vehicles more than in Cowtown. This is not because PVC has more trucks or anything, even with the agricultural folk in their agricultural trucks. If anything, Cowtown has more expensive, environment-killing autoliths barreling around the roads, because all the rich Cowtownians can afford it. I finally figured it out this week, and the reason has to do with why this is the (so very) Prairie (ironically) Valley City.

Technically our city is in a valley, but it's like an ice age valley that is a whole province wide. The glaciers carved out this great swath of prairie that is F-L-A-T. So when some beastmobile plants itself in front of you, there is no slope to the road that allows you to scope out what's in front of the dude. All you see is bumper. This flatness also means there is no topography requiring roads to be curved around - all the roads are straight. (Extended aside: this does not create, as one would expect, intersections with ninety degree angles. Somehow all these straight roads cross each other at whackadoodle angles not normally associated with driving. Or city planning. But I digress. Again. But I think readers who live in the PVC know to what I refer.) Curved roads also allow you to see the cars ahead of whatever sight-obscuring creature may be in front of you. So I've determined the flatness and the straight roads are the reasons I've been more frequently annoyed by tall vehicles here than I was in Cowtown.

(Another extended aside: this is not a post about the superiority of Cowtown's roads or anything. They have their own driving hassles there. Cowtown has topography and curved roads around that topography because it was built in this transition zone between the prairie and the mountains, and because they damned up their river to make a giant lake in the middle of the city. It is also a younger city that has more purposely grown outward from a central nugget of metropolis. PVC has older roots, basically a patchwork city formed from a gaggle of small towns and forts that grew into each other. Much of the road confusion is because of this, and because of our own abundance of waterways, which must be circumvented in a variety of creative ways. Still, there are no hills. Which means no drainage, so spring thaw creates all new bodies of water in every road, hiding extensive potholes. Wide-as-the-road potholes. Ugh, I'm digressing yet again.)

This will hardly be the last time I talk about driving in the PVC. I have many thoughts on the topic (see above asides.) I have a tendency toward the, shall we say road-ragey. Hence, many thoughts, not all of them kind. (I can see myself cutting profanity from my vocabulary in most of my life except this, so if Bean learns bad words anywhere, it will be in the car.) Before I post my driving entries, even while I write them, I will try to channel as much niceness and patience and grace as possible. I know in most cases I am raging against factors I cannot control. I cannot add hills to the Prairie Valley, I cannot curve-up the straight roads, I cannot take all the cars taller-than-me off the road. In that case, at least, in the near future I'll be driving something taller myself. One less thing making me get all stabby-like.


  1. I love smaller cars. With 3 kids, we bowed to societal pressure & got a minivan (still better gas mileage than a big SUV). But we squeeze into our Toyota Corolla most days, as it gets 10 mpg better! It's not just the extra money that bothers me in driving the van, it's the extra fossil fuel that's getting burned.

  2. On a completely unrelated note, how about some blog links so I can learn all about what you learn all about?