Out is in; in is out? I really think not folks

By Steve Estes

Strictly Drivel

I know that I promised I wouldn’t make fun of crazy drivers for a few months, but that is a resolution I’m going to have to be forced to break because, well because I’ve just been handed so much easy fodder in the last two weeks.

It’s kind of like passing up a bet that the rock falling from the top of the building will hit the ground. You just have to take someone up on it.

Three weeks ago, wait. If it happened prior to the time I made the resolution, it doesn’t really count does it?

Anyway.

Every Thursday we drive to the Miami area to pick up our newspapers and bring them back to the Keys, delivering as we go from Marathon to Key West. It makes for a long day, made even longer when the behind-the-wheel crazies are out in full force.

That week, we ran across, and almost into, two separate crazies, one in Marathon and one in Big Pine.

One of the reasons we use the Jeep for pick up and delivery is because it has such a great turning radius. We have done this for so long that we rarely have to stop. We swing into a parking lot, make the turn, whip the bags of papers out the window and continue on out the parking lot without ever stopping.

Unless, of course, our path is blocked in some fashion.

As it was that day.

We have two deliveries in the shopping center in Marathon that houses Winn-Dixie and Kmart. Because we also deliver to Marathon High School, we always enter from the Kmart side of the parking lot, turn right and drop the bags, then go out at McDonalds. It’s completely unobtrusive on our part. We’re in with the flow of traffic and back out again before we even have to stop.

We made the last drop and prepared to exit the parking lot.

But it wasn’t to be that easy.

As we approached the exit lane, an older gentleman in a large sedan was trying to enter the parking lot. I have a strong feeling that he either didn’t know where he was going, or perhaps couldn’t remember how to get there.

The exit lanes are two wide, as are the entrance lanes on the other side of the median. We were in the right hand lane because we always turn right, going up one side then down the other on US 1.

We had just passed the front door at McDonalds, just 30 yards or so from the exit, when this elderly gentleman gunned the motor and entered the parking lot. On the exit side, the side we were on, and in the same lane we were in.

He had overshot his entrance lane by about 40 feet.

That didn’t bother him although it did bother me.

I had to slam on the brakes to avoid a head-on collision that would have really ruined my day. He was completely unaffected.

He wanted to go right, but he couldn’t get his car to cross the median, must have been too high or something, so he just remained in the wrong lane—mine—until he cleared the median and was able to turn right.

I didn’t even have the heart to fly him a single-digit salute and just pulled out and went on about my business.

On Big Pine, we have a box at a local gas station. That one requires us to stop to fill the box, which we did.

The entrance and exit lanes are clearly marked from the road. The only way to mess it up is to both not know where you’re going and not be able to read. One or the other affliction wouldn’t get you to the wrong side to enter the parking lot. You’d have to suffer from both.

By the time we reach that location we’ve dropped nearly 1,000 pounds of newspapers in various locations so the Jeep actually stops close to normal time. Good thing.

As we circled the parking lot and prepared to head back out onto US 1, we were again in the farthest right lane so we could turn right. Folks turning left are on the nearer left side of the double exit lane.

But the air pump is just off the farthest right lane. This small SUV, no match for the Jeep in a confrontation at that slow speed, with Massachusetts plates, chose that exact moment to need—really need—the shortest route to the air pump from US 1.

That route put him right across my bow from left to right, completely blocking both exit lanes until he had cleared them at some 30 miles per hour.

True, it wasn’t a great length of time to be inconvenienced, but it was long enough that I had to lock up the brakes. Only when Massachusetts heard my tires squealing in an attempt to stop did he even bother to look up and see me bearing down on him.

He actually smiled and waved his hand, like I would as a thank you gesture when someone lets me out into season traffic on Big Pine while trying to turn left.

I wasn’t in the mood to be magnanimous.

He got the single-digit salute in all its glory.

And he looked as though he didn’t know why. That quizzical expression was one for the ages.

If he had been four and I had just caught him trying to stick a fork into an electrical socket I would have expected that same look.

I tried. I really did try.

I pointed at the big EXIT ONLY sign he had just run right through, then made the sweeping left-to-right gesture that indicated what stupid trick he had pulled.

But as I pulled out into traffic, still flying the salute, that look never left his face.

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