Driving in Southern Florida

I love Southern Florida for many reasons, including the balmy winter weather, the beauty of flora and fauna, the ocean breezes, the friendly people, and the absence of state income tax. Among those reasons, driving will not be found. Native drivers here continue to astonish me with their apparent oblivion over simple rules of the road that are encountered in most other parts of the country, except perhaps in New York City.

I was here in Pompano Beach for several weeks last year before encountering another driver who used a turn signal. That event was a relief to me just when I was beginning to believe that using turn signals down here might actually be against the law. Strange as it may seem, I thought there could be a different rule in this part of the country…something like, “If you use your turn signal you WILL be arrested and do prison time.”

Countless times I have been cut off by other drivers, who simply assume that my psychic powers will notify me that they are changing lanes. In a moment of wild mental abandon, I also wondered if there might be clinics down here, where drivers had those tiny portions of their brains dealing with turn signals surgically removed. Standing in lines at the bank and at super markets, I’ve been looking at the backs of people’s heads for cranial scars as proof that my bizarre notion might be factual. No luck yet in detecting scars like those, despite the bald head of a shopper in front of me at Publix Super Market the other day, a head sporting tattoos of two arrows, one pointing right and the other pointing left. I groped for an interpretation but was afraid to ask what the arrows meant. Maybe he was just bisexual.

In Southern Florida there are also more licensed drivers over the age of one hundred than in any other place in the country. The other day I saw a woman driver I’m guessing was at least two hundred years old, whom I couldn’t even see until I passed her vehicle that appeared to be driving itself. She was too short to be detected except for two arms upward grasping the steering wheel. I suppose she wasn’t even able to reach the turn signal controls.

Because it is perpetually summer here, many drivers leave their car windows down and instead of using the standard turn signal lights, those motorists simply lean their left arms out the driver’s side in a lazy, casual attempt to let others know of some kind of turn. This attempt, of course is not effective, because such drivers rarely, if ever, form an “L” to show the intention to turn right or use the arm straight out to signal a left turn. It’s almost a challenge that says, “OK, everybody. I’m about to do something here with my car. See if you can guess what it is in time not to create a crash.”

I continue to use my turn signals from years of not having driven my car any other way and am pretty sure that Floridian drivers behind me see me as an anomaly or simply as someone, who has indulged in fancy accessories for my automobile.   JB

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on Amazon.com as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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3 Responses to Driving in Southern Florida

  1. Sue Tinkle says:

    LOL was the modus operandi while reading this exceptionally colorful description of driving life, which I can relate to totally(except for the arms out the window-it is too cold and/or too snowy) and I live in ILLINOIS! I live in an upscale area where median income is $115,000 (I do not belong here anymore), and BMW’s, Lexus, Audi, Toyota, and Hondas are everywhere-new ones-that should come with turn signals-with drivers that have class, consideration, courtesy, but alas-their brains must be in a jar on their nightstand when they depart their homes in the morning. . Don’t they remember-“Don’t leave home without it?”

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