Monday, June 05, 2006

Need for Speed

A few days ago, I was driving to my fitness class from work. I usually take the ST expressway. Though it is crowded during rush hour, it still is the fastest route to my class from work. The speed limit is 45 miles per hour (mph) on ST. Usually though, even when the traffic is heavy, as long as it is free-flowing, most drivers do at least 55mph. So, that evening, I was cruising along at between 55-60 miles per hour behind equally charged cars when I noticed a black and white car on the lane to the right out of the corner of my eye. A quick glance over my right shoulder confirmed it - yup, it was a cop car!

Immediately, I slowed down. Within seconds, my speedometer was showing a staid 45mph. I tried to maintain an innocent look on my face as I continued my law-abiding act. Soon, though, my other instincts took charge and my speed climbed to 50mph. Still, not bad, I told myself. Then I noticed something strange. I was at the tail-end of a huge group of cars ahead of me. But behind me, except for one lone car, for at least 200 feet, there were no other cars. But after that, again, there was a huge bunch of cars! What the heck!@#$! I had been surrounded by cars just a few minutes ago.

Then it struck me. The drivers of the huge bunch of cars behind me were all maintaining 45mph, doing the innocent law-abiding citizens act after noticing the cop car! I started chuckling to myself as I glanced at the rear-view mirror again. And my heart shot into my mouth and my stomach dropped. The lone car behind mine was the cop car! Oh my gosh! Don't tell me doing 50mph in a 45mph zone merited a ticket.

Thankfully, before my over-active imagination could give me a full-fledged heart-attack, the cop car sped right by me. I watched, wondering which poor soul ahead of me the cop was going to catch. But to my surprise, the cop car just zoomed away, even faster than the cars ahead of me. I was just absorbing this drama when I realized that something had changed. All the law-abiding citizens who had hitherto been doing 45mph behind me had started zooming again the moment the cop car went past them. And the 200 ft behind me which had been empty only a few moments earlier was now once again chock-full of cars.

LOL! So much for following the law!

Ah, while I am at it, here is another story from the road. So the other morning, on my way to work from home, I was zooming along at the speed-limit when I saw the green light at an intersection. I crossed the intersection - only to realize that, due to some construction work, the right-most of the three lanes beyond the intersection had been blocked. The traffic lights at the next intersection was on red. Resultantly, the other two lanes were jam-packed, all the way upto the end of the lanes on that side. As I was already midway across the intersection I couldn't back up and so just went forward. I inched as close as possible to the car in front of me in the middle lane. Even so, the rear end of my car was sticking out just a little into the intersection. Immediately, I started panicking and started imagining all sorts of worst-case scenarios (all of which ended in me being rear-ended by some car) when the cross traffic started.

When I checked the rear-view mirror again, to my relief, I noticed that a SUV driven by a lady had pulled up behind my car. If my car was sticking a bit into the intersection, her SUV was practically blocking one of the lanes for the cross traffic. I began to feel sorry for that driver - if I had panicked so much, how much more nervous she would be feeling!

Then, even as I watched her in the rear-view mirror, the lady calmly reached across the seat, pulled out a mascara and started applying it to her lashes! She did not stop even when the cross traffic started and the vehicles in that direction swerved to miss hitting her SUV. Talk about cool! Talk about contrasts!

I tell you - drivers here never cease to amaze me.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

similar thoughts ...
check this
http://hkroshan.blogspot.com/2006/03/speed-board.html

Prasanna said...

Lol! the lady applying mascara...that the best...

u shd chk out all the mobile phones stunts that the drivers do here!

Anonymous said...

People inside their cars think that its their domain and noone can even see them. I once was waiting at a signal to turn right, and decided to check my hair, and I suddenly realized that I tried too many hairstyles, at which point I looked around to see that all the cars, in my lane (right most) were swerving around me and going ahead! Wonder if I was soooooo busy that I dint even hear the honks.

Saranya Kishore said...

Hey Arch, new post!

I have had those heart attach moments. :--) I slow down miserably when I see cop cars behind me, it makes sense too, on I80. When we were travelling to SF the long weekend, we counted the number of cops, and the number of pulled over cars for ticket, more than 10 of them on a single leg.
Been caught twice by the cop, K got a ticket once for going 77 on 65, can u believe it?

kuttichuvaru said...

both are very true!! seen both of them happen!! n wen the entire traffic slows down, u can be pretty sure tat there is a cop somewhere around :-)

n women doin make-up inside the car in such situations, yday I saw a woman who, at an intersection, turned her rear view mirror to her side n is happily applyin her make-up, while the cars started moving, she jus like tat changed to the right lane without even lookin for the car behind!! of course, her rear view mirror was facin her n how can she look at the car behind!!

Rahul Obla said...

Ah!.... speed limit!. I have a different experience with that. One that didn't even involve me driving :).

Archana said...

Anon - :-)!

Prasanna - seriously, the things that people do here while driving! Apparently a colleague of mine once saw a woman pulling on a pantyhose at a red-light :-0!!

Anon - LOL :-D! What hairstyle were you trying - so oblivious to the rest of the world :-)?

Saranya - yup, break from Canada series :-)! Yeah cop-cars freak me out. Ticket for doing 77 on 65 speed-limit - that's bad! Someone I know got a ticket for doing 55mph on the very same 45mph speed-limit ST expressway - at 2.00a in the morning - talk about rotten luck!

Kuttichuvaru - I know - the more you drive the more you begin to recognize the signs of "cop-car around"! Women drivers doing make-up in cars is such a common sight here, na?

Rahul - ah-ha - given your history, I bet it is some interesting story ;-P! Please do blog about it :-)!

Archana Bahuguna said...

Hee hee.. very interesting ... maybe u can learn a bit or two from the cool mascara lady ;-).

Happens with me all the time. I also keep generally within 5-10 miles/hr of the speed limit,and find the security in seeing other higher speeding cars believing the cops would pick them and not me. :-) Unless I get unlucky and some dragon lady makes a wrong choice.

Prabhu said...

If god asked me if i wanted to become highway trooper or a manager at a innovative company, i would prefer the trooper job.
Sigh! If only the trooper jobs sponsor h1b visas :(
its such a cool job - chasing people and not worry about getting caught for speeding :)

dinesh said...

Ha..Some people just don't have the common sense to not block an intersection (I am not talking about you, I am talking about the mascara lady :)), and like you say, they do it with complete confidence in themselves, much to the irritation of other people ! Yeri midhikkalaam nu thonum sila samayam :)

ROBBIE said...

hey arch,
Hats off to your imagination! you kept me engaged with your imaginative writing, btw that cake (pic in your previous post) is really mouth watering. hmm! Seems like you are very observant. Keep posting more of these, I am astounded at how you manage to make something out of nothing(that was a compliment btw, and I blog rolled you to read more hehe)

Archana said...

Archana - I know! I follow the same principle :-D - keep with the crowd!!

Prabhu - trooper job shd be cool! I wonder how long a trooper gets a kick out of seeing everyone else slow down whenever (s)he drives the official vehicle :-)!

Dinesh - You know, if you had not actually mentioned the fact that you were not talking abt me, I might have believed you better ;-)! I especially hate it when some people want to take a right turn, but find that they are in the next lane by mistake and then proceed to turn their car and find they are unable to pull out completely and finally wind up blocking the right lane till the signal turns green for everyone. Grr!

Robbie - thank you for providing my dose of feel-good for the day :-D! Yaay - I am linked :-D!

madsies said...

Lol! women make ups, cell phone sutnts, breakfast munching, and the best is when I once saw this guy , using his shaver looking into his rear view mirror as his guidance and yet maintaing 75 on a 55 road!
Yes i was on the parallel lane watching his stunts!

Thanu said...

all the things ppl do in their thinking no one else can see...

Shilpa said...

Well nothing compared to the way ppl drive in Canada ! No one even checks their rear-view mirror while backing up !

I loved driving in cali too....simply cos no one followed the speed limit :-)

Archana said...

Madsies - LOL :-)! The day is not far off when ppl start taking showers in their vehicles I guess :-O!!

Thanu - I know - people are just in their own world!

Shilpa - hehe, I remember how extremely surprised I was when you stuck conscientiously to the speed-limit when you first drove in Cal! Thank God, I did not drive in Texas - I would have def'ly got a ticket :-0!

ROBBIE said...

hey,
i am bored, hence thought of writing a comment here:P hey hey hey cant wait for tomorrow!! its federer v nalbandian and nadal v ljubicic and a great day for tennis and I will be in the lab listening to some doggone lab presentation!!!!!! just ignore this comment and act like it never existed please:P i am just plain boreddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd~!!!

Rajesh said...

Hey, Archana,

You talk abt drivers in your place...nobody can beat the drivers in our Own country..India!!!...that too drivers in Bangalore...on Hosur Road....they need to be framed and nominated for Oscars for best Driving..if there were a section... :-)....

The pity is.. most of these people here who are traffic nemesis are top-notch IT professionals...who turn into somesort of road-rash drivers when they get on to their cars and are stuck in a traffic snarl.....

so the moral...Be it left-or-right...drivers are always on wrong foot when it comes to traffic jams..!!

Archana said...

Rajesh - Our desi drivers deserve a special post of their own :-D - every time I visit home, I shut my eyes whenever I go out in any vehicle - for the first few days at least!


p.s. Robbie - as per your instructions, I am ignoring your comment :-P!

GeronimoThrust said...

Well,, If you haven't been in Washington, DC, you haven't seen anything..

Some of our "skilled" women/lady drivers are so deft in handling their automobiles while they apply their mascara, drink coffee, read their e-mails on their hald-helds, and even better fiddle with their radios..FYI, No kidding here.. But all this happens at once most of the times..If anything, one lady topped it all with a fuming cigarette in her mouth apart from trying to accomplish the above said tasks all at once while driving on the Beltway.. So, please make a beeline to Washington to witness some of the most enticing and amazing drivers in the United States..

P.S: One thing I forgot to mention was the act that they try to read their maps/driving directions and even better, the Washington Post..Can't believe it, right? But gotta visit DC to believe it..

Archana said...

Geronimo - Looks like DC women are even more accomplished multi-taskers while driving :-D! You have not said ath abt the male drivers?