This is going to be a rant, y’all. And I’m about to make some generalizations about a group of people so if you’re easily offended, this was your warning.
Anyone who knows me in real life knows I hate driving. Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel but I hate driving. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 19. My Driver’s Ed teacher told me that I was only good at driving forwards (or did she mean, Fords?). That was before I got a 38 on my driving test and sentenced to 20 more hours of chaperoned driving. Even now, if it’s raining too hard or snowing or the sun is shining at me the wrong way, I despise driving. Don’t get me started on night driving. My eyes don’t dilate correctly, my contacts stick to them funny, lights from other cars blind me and I’m pretty sure it’s not socially acceptable to drive down the highway with your brights on to see better…
So a couple of weeks ago, I had a couple of days off so I decided to take a trip. I needed somewhere that was within driving distance. Well my dad lives about an hour and fifteen minutes from Philadelphia and it was the week of 4th of July so it just felt appropriate that Philadelphia would be my destination. So my youngest sister and I decided to head that way.
Driving north on 95 gives me anxiety. I know the exact moment that the anxiety kicks in. (It’s in Prince William, where Potomac Mills and Ikea are.) But strangely enough on that Wednesday morning driving up, the anxiety didn’t kick in. Maybe it’s the fact that I now have an EZPass (I needed it to get back and forth from VCU during the work day) and I got to drive in the EZPass Express Lanes while the common folk drove slower with a divider between us. Drove through Maryland, Deleware and most of Pennsylvania without a problem. Maybe it was the early morning.
As we got closer to my dad’s house, my sister warned me that there was a bad left turn coming up. One that goes uphill and you have to turn left on to a road that has cars coming from both ways from around a curve on both sides. If that sounds scary or confusing to you, please imagine my anxiety level just from her warning.
I finally get to the turn. I’m relieved because this means I’m almost at my dad’s house but super nervous, so I decide to just take my time. I was always taught never to be in a hurry while driving. Too bad the guy behind wasn’t taught the same. As I am waiting to turn, the man in the silver SUV starts to come around the right side of me. So I’m thinking, oh good, he’s turning right. NOPE. He just wants to have a better view of the cars coming from the left (while partially blocking my view to the right) and then he yells, “What the HELL are you waiting for?” so loudly that I can hear him even though the windows of my car are up.
I finally make the turn, relieved to have survived. However Mr. SUV man is not happy so he starts following me way too closely. It was like he wanted to ride in my backseat. I considered pulling off on the side of the road and letting him go in front of me since he obviously had somewhere to be but my sister reassured me that our turn was coming up. So I just let him tailgate me until I made my turn and thanked God that he didn’t turn behind me. That was my first bad experience with Pennsylvania drivers and traffic.
And it only got worse from there. It turns out that an hour and fifteen minutes is just an exaggeration of how far my dad lives from Philly. Or else Philly just kept getting up and moving farther and farther away. Also to get to Philadelphia from my dad’s house, it’s just a series of getting on one highway after another. The Pennsylvanian drivers aren’t forgiving to out-of-state folks. Every single one of their entrance ramps to a highway pretty much went in an entire circle. Your life has hit an all time low when you’ve been passed by someone on an entrance ramp to the highway.
The thing is Pennsylvania drivers know they’re crazy drivers. First of all, there are “No Tailgating” signs on the highway. I’ve decided that’s why Pennsylvania doesn’t require license plates on the front of cars; either they would fall off from all the tailgating they do or it’d be way too easy for other drivers to report them for driving way too closely. Second, I passed a sign that said, “Aggressive Driver High Crash Area.” That one just speaks for itself…
And get this, motorcyclists in Pennsylvania apparently aren’t required to wear helmets. WTH? But bicyclists have to wear helmets…
But don’t worry, all of the above was before I got into Philadelphia. Holy crap! Philadelphia is like New York City but if everyone had cars. Seriously there are too many cars on the road there. Also drivers are not friendly to pedestrians. My sister and I were waiting to cross the street at a four way stop. A lady stopped at the stop sign so I figured I’d let her go ahead and go since there was no one behind her and she looked like she was in a hurry even though technically I guess we had the right of way. God forbid you try to be nice to someone. She mouthed, “What the hell are you waiting for? (Is that the state slogan?) at us, so we politely waved and walked as she zoomed past us as soon as we were barely out of her way.
But back to the too many cars. I mean this city should have a public transportation system. Oh wait, it does: SEPTA. Too bad they should rename it SEPTIC because it’s crappy. I looked at the website several times while there and it was not user-friendly at all. I mean, I am a small town country girl from a county whose idea of public transportation is “Hey, are you going down yonder too? You got room in the bed of your truck, let me hop in,” but I have mastered the Metro in DC so public transportation is not a mystery to me. We saw the trolley cars one of the days we were there and they drive on the road behind the cars but on tracks and it was just weird.
I’m not eager to drive in Pennsylvania any time soon.
Long Story Short: Driving in Pennsylvania gives me MAJOR anxiety.