Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I love driving down Beach Road in the morning, so complaining when my son misses the bus to Hopwood Jr. High is mostly a parent thing. I'm expected to give The Lecture about Responsibility and Being On Time.

The stretch from Garapan to Oleai --where the road is actually on the beach-- used to be my favorite place to hang out. BS of course: before silting. It's soothing to check the tide, the birds, the people, the boats and ships. Strangely, there's not much traffic going South at 7:30.

Not today. The guy in front of me was going 25 or 30 miles per hour. I can deal with that by hanging back so it averages out. In fact, it was a nostalgic feeling, like being stuck behind a carabao cart years 'n years ago. The problem was the cars behind me. I got crowded every time I left too much distance in front of me.

So much for gawking, so I treated it as a teachable moment. In fact, I've got to get my camera into the shop, I could have made a video for a Driver Education class.

To lower my blood pressure, I calmly noted the fool tailgating us. Did I say fool? Hmm, hope not; that's setting a bad example. Even more calmly (desperately calm) I noted the speed-challenged fellow who wouldn't let me pass but sped up so he could wildly swerve into my lane and make a left turn.

Hmm, let's get in the right lane and let the Speed Racers go by. Woops, I almost nailed that guy turning in front of me; at least a three-car collision if I hadn't been watching for a bonehead move. Did you get that, son? Calmly.

Still calm, I explained I had crept into the sidewalk at the Marianas High School light because I had noticed in my rearview mirror that we would have been rear-ended if I stopped in front of the line. Those tourists in the crosswalk have the right of way, I said. Nevermind what I called the guy switching lanes to pass me.

Luckily, he had already 'gotten down' when I pulled up at the No Left Turn sign to leave Hopwood. I vented a little to myself when that, that, that woman pulled up to my right blocking my view of oncoming traffic so she could get five seconds in front of me.

Does anybody actually obey that sign? Is it a real traffic sign? That's similar territory to passing in the bike lane when someone is turning left, we've had that talk too, I think he's old enough. Yes, it's against the law I told him, in fact, it's a question on the Driver's Exam. But no one follows it, including the police.

So the subject didn't come up today (the above happened Wednesday). That must have been a bad day. Today was another smooth, peaceful jaunt along the beach. Well, until we ran into a funeral for the second day in a row.

Why do they run these processions at rush hour, with officers jumping out at every intersection to make things worse? Okay, rush hour is an exaggeration. This is still Saipan. Still, it doesn't seem unreasonable to schedule them a half-hour earlier or later.

Ah, traffic lights. I miss the old days, when people would stop a line of traffic to let someone pull out at a stop sign. That was another sort of aggravation, but it had a certain charm.


Bon said...

Good post, laughed and cried, ha ha.

Saipan Writer said...

I've been thinking of traffic a lot lately, too--mostly as I take my daughter along the eastern side of the island from San Vicente to SSHS. And yes, I too, talk about this with my daughter.

Parallel lives, Ken!

I've been thinking
about the blue sports car driving at top speed to close the gap between himself and the long line of cars way ahead, so that I couldn't get out of my driveway across from SVES. Does anyone know what SCHOOL ZONE means? He had a kid in the back seat, too.

About the driver who hit a dog right in front of me as I was driving away from SSHS. (Fortunately I'd dropped off my dd already.) The poor canine creature screamed in agony and then managed to drag its mangled body and crushed leg across the road. I couldn't see to drive. I had to wipe away the tears--both sadness and anger.

About the teen I almost hit today as I pulled away from the curb at SSHS. Instead of waiting in the orderly line of cars to pull up and drop off students, he was in the lane going out, but then swerved in front of me to pull up to a bit of curb left by the car that had just left. I swear I almost crashed into him.

About parents who have their teens drive to school, and then do this changeover as the kids get out for classes and the parent then slips behind the wheel. What's the point? Is it just too cool for a teen to drive?

As for passing on the right--gee, I thought that was legal here! Seriously. I remember trying to figure this out a while ago and concluding that there's no law against it. Maybe they've changed the law. It certainly is illegal in the states.

And then when I come down the hill from Koblerville, there's been these spectacular rainbows. That first glimpse of ocean. And island life reasserts itself. There's a cup of hot tea waiting for me at Winchell's and life is okay.

KAP said...

On the bright side, my son should be a pretty fair defensive driver by the time he gets his license...if he pays attention to my running commentary...

Lil' Hammerhead said...

There are not too many stretches of road on the planet with the qualities of that stretch of Beach Road. I've always loved driving it. Used to be a time when, if you left early enough (6:30am or so).. you could drive from Microl to Garapan and wouldn't pass another vehicle in the opposite direction. I do miss the Flame Trees that used to cover most of the stretch of the road though.