Sunday, November 17, 2013

Open Letter to Bad Drivers

I’ve experienced two incidents on Alabama roads since this summer, including this very morning, that make me find the need to write an open letter.  Particularly, an open letter to shitty drivers.  I’m not saying Michigan is devoid of bad drivers or that all Alabama drivers are bad; I’m just sick of dealing with people who can’t freaking drive properly.  So here are some helpful rules for drivers who need to go back to driving school.

Rule #1: Use Your Fucking Turn Signal
I don’t know why people have such a hard time with this.  The whole point of the turn signal is to let people know what you intend to do on the road.  So use your signal if you intend to change lanes.  Or intend to merge.  Or intend to turn.  If other drivers don’t know what you’re doing (which btw people aren’t psychics, crazy right?) that’s when bad things happen.  The whole point of the turn signal is for everyone to be aware of what people are doing on the road.

Rule #2: Put Your Phone Down
Let me put it this way: is telling someone “hey” as important as your life? No.  End of freaking discussion.  You don’t need to be texting, or even talking on the phone if it is going to be a major distraction to your driving.  Texting, we obviously know is a major enough distraction because you’ve got one hand (at least) not on the wheel and unless you can text perfectly without looking (doubtful) then your eyes are also not on the road.  It’s not worth it.  No text message is worth your life unless you’re the president, in which case you don’t drive your own car.

Rule #3: Life Is About Taking the Scenic Route
I know how important it can be to get somewhere.  But taking drastic measures because you might miss your exit is not an excuse for your behavior.  Particularly in the case of this morning, in which the driver could easily have gotten off and the next exit and made three turns to get back on the desired road.  I hate getting lost, but since GPS isn’t always accurate and I don’t know all the roads in this city (I’m not Sherlock, damn) it is inevitable.  If you have to take the long route, it isn’t as bad as putting someone else’s life in danger.

Rule #4: If Tired, Pull Over
One of the worst car accidents I’ve ever been in was because someone fell asleep at the wheel.  I understand being tired and the desire to just get home, because I’ve been in situations where I had cold air blowing on my face and music turned to high heaven for me to stay alert.  But if you really feel you can’t keep your eyes open or find yourself having long slow blinks, pull over your car.  Call a taxi or friend to come and get you.  It’s a sucky situation especially when you’re exhausted and just want to be home, but it is safer to rely on someone else than to put your life and the lives of all other drivers at risk.

Rule #5: Don’t Drive Drunk/Tipsy
This is obvious.  But at the same time, not entirely obvious.  You know when you’re drunk.  And you know not to drive when you’re drunk.  Most people abide by this, though some don’t.  But what less people abide, and even I’m guilty of this, driving while tipsy.  I’ve only ever done this twice.  But I felt terrible about it.  I really shouldn’t have been driving; I would have at least been very close to the limit and maybe over.  The problem is that I don’t always feel tipsy when I go to leave, but realize it after the fact.  So again, pull over and call a taxi or a friend to come get you.  It just isn’t worth the risk.

So you may (or may not) be wondering what actually happened this morning on the road.  For anyone who knows the area of the Bham, you’ll probably know which section of road I’m distinctly talking about.  Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning, I get up early (asscrack of dawn) and have to drive a specific way to work.  I get on 65 North, and eventually merge onto 459 South (though it runs more southwest).  Once on 459, I pass the exit for 31 and immediately after take the off ramp for the mall.  Now, the exit for 31 and the sign and exit for the mall are not that far apart.  Well I was in the right lane getting ready to get off at my exit and a car in the lane to the left of me, swerved in front of me to make the exit for 31.  There were two lanes to my right, designated for the exit at 31.  So at least three lanes covered by the swerving.  He’s lucky I have good brakes, because he was less than one car length in front of me.  I’m also lucky no one was behind me.  This idiot didn’t have his/her signal on at all, but just jerked over to make the exit.  Anyone from the area knows that all he/she needed to do was take the next exit and drive around the mall to get back to 31.  But instead, the idiot driver swerved, putting my life and his/her life at risk.  I don’t know if the driver was drunk (it was just after 4 am on a Sunday) or just stupid, but I’m sick of my life being put in compromising positions by other drivers.  People need to stop being such selfish drivers and consider the other people on the road.

I’ve said my piece, so now I’m going to try and relax and enjoy something today since I’m still on edge.  Please be considerate of other people on the road, and learn to focus on your driving habits, not your textual communication.  I know I will appreciate it.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Book Club: October

Book club for October is not only coming late this time, it’s untraditional.  Recently, due to financial pressures, I’ve had to get a second job.  So before, when I had three days off, I had more time to read and time to go to book club on Thursdays.  Well that went out the window. Bye time I used to have!

That being said, I decided to improvise so that I could still do book club blogs, but instead of it being books chosen and talked about in book club, I will pick books I’ve read in that month to discuss.  I didn’t read many books in October, so my choices were limited, but I read a great book that I’d like to talk about here.

Image from MatterDeep Publishing

The book is called Olympia Heights by Amy Strickland.  She’s a local author here in Birmingham and I came across the book from my friend Cathie who works with Amy’s husband, who recommended the series to her.  My friend Cathie really liked it, so she passed it along to me.

A Young Adult fiction, the story is set in a high school just outside of Miami, Florida.  Football captain Zach is a leader, popular, and has a way with ladies, much to the distress of his girlfriend June.  During a football game, Zach experiences what he believes is being struck by lightning, when really he produced the lightning.  What then transpires is normal kids in high school discovering that they aren’t normal and they aren’t really kids: they’re ancient gods.

Many people who have read the series compare it to the similarly written Percy Jackson novels.  I enjoyed coming into the reading having not yet read Percy Jackson.  My friend Cathie said at times she had difficulty differentiating the stories because they are so similar.  Not having that problem was refreshing for me because I got to enjoy the story without constant comparison or confusion.  Another great part is that the characters names have a common letter with the god or goddess they represent.  Zach=Zeus, June=Juno, etc.

There were only two downsides for me.  At times the storyline didn’t seem present.  Events would move along, but it lacked cohesion at parts that made the story difficult to follow.  Also, there is such a multitude of characters, representing gods, that it can get incredibly confusing remembering who is whom.  Some of them are more obvious based on their talent and how frequently it is used.  But the lesser known gods get forgotten at times and I had trouble remembering which god or goddess they were and their power, and their history with the other gods and goddesses.

I don’t have any quotes for this book since it was loaned to me and I don’t usually mark other people’s books.  Overall, I found it a very amusing read and got to enjoy the story as separate from Percy Jackson.  At times it was hard to follow, but still a great and fast read.  I’m currently reading the second book of the series, so that might end up being my November book club. We’ll see.

For more by Amy Strickland, visit her website here and access her blog here!