Evolution and Stupid Drivers

“If evolution is real, why is it only in the last 30 years that we put wheels on luggage?” I read this quote about six months ago, but I don’t remember who said it (possibly Jon Stewart). If I had to define my position on the origins of the universe, I would say that I don’t believe in evolution either, but my proof would be the stupid drivers in my town, who can’t seem to realize that traffic patterns changed months ago.

Downtown Bordeaux has a brand-new tram system that glides gracefully along gleaming tracks with a speed skater’s precision. Unfortunately, that same system is currently under construction in the outlying suburbs, like mine. It’s a major hassle, involving tearing up existing roads, laying the tram tracks, and then repaving the roads one lane at a time. Somewhere in there, they also redo existing pipes, electric lines, etc.

Unfortunately, the worst road in town is a major access road, connecting with the town’s central highway, so traffic is still heavy, even though most people do try to avoid it. The problem is that le chantier (construction site) changes every day! One day you can drive up the wrong-way, heading north in a south-bound lane. The next day, it’s back to the normal right-hand lane, and if you need to turn right or left into the bordering neighborhoods, you are detoured by large signs that read “Déviation” (and who knows what you’d find if you follow that sign!) I have to really follow the signs to stay on the drivable part, since so much is torn up. But to help prevent accidents, the road was changed to only one-way traffic months ago, and there are about 8 signs posted all up and down the road, clearly indicating that left turns off the main highway are impossible, since it is now one-way traffic only.

This construction has been going on since I moved here in December, but do you think that people can follow the new traffic pattern and drive accurately on this road? No way. They keep trying to make those left turns directly into on-coming, one-way traffic, setting off a cacophony of honking horns and tying up the whole intersection. They circle and circle at the round-points, trying to figure out which direction they need. Contrary to popular opinion, I do have some patience and I would excuse these confused drivers, if they were from out-of-town. However, thanks to France’s clever license plate system, I can tell that all these drivers are from Bordeaux! In fact, based on their bumper-stickers, I can see they are they are members of the local pool, supporters of the local soccer team, and do a host of other activities right in the neighborhood. So how can they not know that left-hand turns have been prohibited on that road for the past six months?!?

I have lived only a limited time in Mérignac, and technically, I don’t even have a French driver’s license (don’t tell anybody, okay?) but I have some advice for these drivers: Read the signs, people! Learn from your mistake the first time you try that left turn! Don’t just sit there in the middle of angry traffic and keep trying! Especially not when I am the car behind you!

In other news, its been 65 degrees, rainy and windy for several days now. Its supposed to get up to 75 this weekend. Last night, I had to put on a sweatshirt because it was a little chilly in my apartment. Granted, this type of weather is unseasonal in Bordeaux for August, but its a lot better than the East Coast right now!
Ariel Rainey