Travel lane dancing is not very fun

By Steve Estes

Strictly Drivel

Maybe two extra lanes aren’t good traffic control devices.

Just when we thought we had won the battle with our friendly neighborhood tourists and our roads, it seems that they have left a few stragglers behind. And these stragglers seem to have little idea that they are traveling on an island with limited roadways.

For the first time in months, I was actually able to make a left hand turn on U.S. 1 on a Saturday without waiting 15 minutes for the traffic to clear. I pulled out of the post office, made a left hand turn–yes you heard me right–a left hand turn in the space of about two minutes. I accelerated into the northbound lane and was sailing along smoothly right up to the strip where Walgreen’s starts.

I was happy.

Then, I was attacked by the “I don’t know which way I need to go, and I’m going to take both lanes until I do” folks.

We all know the ones. They have an address of the place they’re looking for, but they haven’t had enough driving experience in the Keys yet to get the grasp of using mile markers for landmarks.

I know it’s hard for someone who has spent much of their adult life driving in places where you don’t measure distance by miles, you measure it by time, to grasp the concept of decreasing distance by looking at the markers on the side of the road.

I’ve never been able to figure that one out. A mile is a mile is a mile no matter where you are. Yet grasping the concept that you find somewhere by reading mile markers seems totally foreign to many of our visitors.

After a couple of years driving here, the concept is as normal as breathing while you walk. But until then, paying attention is paramount–and perhaps that’s where the problem begins. Many of our visiting folks are too busy calling someone on their cell phones, or trying to find a radio station that they want to pay attention to where they’re going.

Anyway, I was following a Pennsylvania and a Michigan car northbound on U.S. 1. The Pennsylvania car must have had some clue where he was because he was riding in the right hand lane, constantly jerking his head to the right looking for something. Trouble was, he couldn’t maintain his lane while he did that. He kept drifting into the left lane while looking for a right turn somewhere.

The Michigan car was having the same problem, only she was looking for something on the left hand side of the road and kept drifting right while looking left. I was sure they were going to crack into each other. But they didn’t.

In fact, they began doing a kind of heavy metal dance. One would drift right, the other would drift left. They would weave in front of and behind the other, changing lanes with impunity. I was stuck behind them. I needed to go straight. Doing so was an invitation to disaster.

I couldn’t back off because there was a large truck behind me that probably couldn’t stop in the distance available to him. I couldn’t go forward because to do so would have put me odd third man out in the Detroit Iron Waltz being played out in front of me. I would have had no lane to weave into or out of.

I thought about pulling off to the side and just letting these guys dance until one or the other found what they needed, or I was safely out of range and when they kissed bumpers, I wouldn’t get caught in the cross fire.

I did none of that. This was just too funny.

A couple of times the two drivers looked at each other through the window, both failing to register in the far reaches of an occupied mind that the other was directly to the side and in imminent danger of plowing them over.

The Pennsylvania driver once gave his dance partner that “What are you doing?” gesture with his hands, with all fingers folded out straight. No single digit salutes for these guys.

Finally, the Pennsylvania car found what he wanted. On the left. A split second later, the Michigan car found what she wanted, on the right. They were both on the two-lane section beyond the banks.

Instead of realizing their mistakes and applying brakes, they must have been in some kind of communication. The right hand one stopped and whipped the car left. The left hand one stopped and whipped the car right. Both nearly did u-turns to get where they wanted to be, which left both pointing back at me.

I just made the best of it and split them down the middle. The Blue Angels couldn’t have pulled off that maneuver better than the three of us. And the most amazing part was that no cars were coming the other direction. I felt like a man pulled from the icy grip of death.

The former right hand car swung through the parking lot and sped off southbound. Guess they were looking for Key West. The former left lane car hit the driveway and whipped a u-turn back to U.S. 1.

I drove on. No way to understand.

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