Sunday, August 27, 2006

Californians aren't the worst drivers...

...Just the most incompetent. I still amazes me that here in the Bay Area, the following lead to immediate gridlock:

-Exits. Even if it's on the right of a seven lane freeway, half to people slow down to 20, a quarter tries to exit by cutting across six lanes, and a quarter stops to ask for directions.
-Parallel parking. Four lane city street, parkee swings out into left lane (or the first of the opposite lanes), backs up to the curb at right angle, hits the curb, gets out of the car--which now blocks both lanes causing other drivers to pass across the center divider effectively shutting down both directions--to assess the situation, asks a few pedestrians for their opinion, gets back into the car, maneuvers back and forth a bit more, gives up, and cedes the spot to a city bus which fits easily.
-45 degree parking. Should be easy, right? Well, most Cali drivers miss the spot on the first few tries necessitating backing up into traffic a couple of times.

Not that I did much today. Biked for an hour on the Mt Diablo foothills, went to the Oakland Chinese festival, bought a few t-shirts from a 4 foot Chinese grandmother who spoke perfect idiomatic Oaklandese, shopped and peoplewatched(*) at the Berkeley Bowl, had lunch and killer coffee at Cactus and Hudson Bay Caffee in Rockridge.

(*) Berkeley Bowl has the best and cheapest produce section in the Bay Area even beating the farmers markets. Kaffir lime, curry leaves and hot mint are some of the less exotic foods. But it's also a great place to see hippies, peacenicks and vegans have total meltdowns. First of all, parking is a bit limited (see above), then the store is usually overcrowded, the aisles are too narrow for two carts to pass, and you can't tell from the end of the line if the cashiers are on PCP, or downers, or both. And then the pushing and shoving starts and peace, love and happiness go right out the window. Today's episode had a henna-haired vintage-Joplin-attired Deadhead and a 70year old hippie Cal prof in bike helmet, ratty sweater and denim short shorts go at it after he cut in line by resolutely ramming his bike into the line at the register. Nice wresting match for the handlebar, and I learned quite a few new cuss words from the "weaker" sex participant and the dozen or so shoppers who joined in. Since this is Berkeley, I really wonder why they couldn't just have a spiff or two before they go to the store. But no matter how much people bitch, they'll be back for the produce and the 9c/pound bananas.

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