Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rules of the (Country) Road; or, What They Don't Tell You When You Take Your Driver's License Exam

(This started from my reply to a post on Suzanne McMinn's blog; the more I thought about it, the more ideas occurred to me. Thanks, Suzanne!--btw, her blog is a hoot; check it out if you haven't visited there.)

What I've learned in the course of thirty-plus years of driving on a country road:

1. If you're coming down the hill and someone is coming up, you've got to move over and let 'em by.

2. The one closest to a wide spot on the flatter sections of road has to pull over or back up.

3. If you ain't from here, we'll figure it out by the way you stop dead in the road when another vehicle approaches, or by the way you hog the entire road and keep on coming, assuming that of course you have the right to do so. We'll move over or back up as needed, but you might not get the usual friendly wave. And you won't know to do the thing listed next:

4. If someone pulls over for you, you should wave or give a little tap on the horn to say thanks.

5. You should never ever use other sign language when you get irritated with someone who ain't from here and doesn't know the rules.

6. If you meet your neighbor on the road, you can both stop and talk until the next car comes. Then you should move on. Unless, of course, they get out of their car and join the conversation.

7. If you see someone with car trouble, stuck in the ditch or whatever, you must stop to help. If you can't help, you can commiserate or offer to go find someone with tractor and/or tools. You should never, ever simply wave and go by. That's rude and your payback will come when you're broke down, believe me.

8. Men must stop to look at deer. Women usually don't bother--the deer are in the road enough to see them quite well. Some men will have head-on collisions in the middle of a one-lane dirt road with total traffic of about 20 cars a day because they're looking at deer (ask my husband and the neighbor he met on our road). It's safer to let them stop and look.

9. Men must try to get out if it snows or floods. They just must, I don't know why. Even if they have nowhere to go, they will want to see if they can get through.

10. If it's dusty, slow down if you pass someone walking. Slow down if you're following another vehicle so you don't eat their dust. Slow down if you're passing someone's house and their kids are outside playing or if their doors and windows are open.

11. Be nice to the mailman and the school bus driver. Their jobs are tough enough without us giving them a hard time or riding on their bumpers.

12. If you find a tree down in the road first, it's your job to try to get it out of the path of vehicles of possible. That may mean a trip back to the house for a chain saw and tow chain, or tractor. If you're a woman, you can wait for the next guy with truck and tools (love those men!) if you find that you can't do the job yourself.

13. If it floods, you must go down to look at the water and visit with all the other neighbors who are there looking at the water and watching those who feel they must try to drive through. I've yet to see someone actually not get through. I have seen a few vehicles with water in the floorboards and other places not good for the continued life of said vehicle. Not mine of course. Of course not. Who would be so silly?

14. If it's between 9:30 and 12:30 on a Sunday morning, you will get behind church traffic heading up to Mount Hope Church, unless you remember to take the other fork of the road. Be patient. Follow them slowly and use the time to look at the wildflowers, deer, improvements neighbors have made to their places, and other points of interest along the way.

15. Always assume someone is coming around the blind curves and over the blind hills. They seldom are, but there is always that one time...

16. Teenagers almost always drive too fast too soon; they often violate rules #1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11 and 14. They also often require that others follow rule #7

I may have missed a few--anyone have any additions to this list?


Anonymous said...

If the car door is open and a man is standing beside it...don't look!

Anonymous said...

Well, you can look. Just don't be surprised if you see more that you wish to!!!

This should be included in the WV driver's test. Or at least distributed by mail to all tax payers! That way when city mouse visits country mouse there won't be as much confusion.


Granny Sue said...

Now that is certainly one I overlooked (pun intended!).

Definitely have to add that to the list.

City Mouse said...

This is awesome - reminds me of all the things I had to learn (or re-learn) about the country after living in the city for so long. I'll have to make a list!

My favorite kind of post - amusing AND instructional!

Tipper said...

You need to give the list to the DMV to hand out to new folks.

ByJane said...

If you're out in the country enjoying the scenery and there is more than one car following you, pull over and let 'em pass.

Also: don't toot at the haymaker doing 15 mph down the center lane. You'll get where you're going soon enough.

Batsy said...

If it's bigger than you -- logging truck, combine, tractor pulling seeder -- get out of the way. Right-of-way doesn't count but size does.

Granny Sue said...

You guys are awesome! Jane, you're right--let 'em get by you. And batsy, your comment reminds me of that country song "International Harvester." It's hilarious and right on the money.

Gas drilling trucks too--better get out of the way. Those guys travel in conveys of 5 to 10 trucks, they're big and on my one-lane road they take up about a road and a half.

Of course, if you're Larry and it's icy and there are gas driller people with two trucks blocking the road in a blind curve while they spread sand--you won't be able to stop and you'll take out two Fords with your Chevy.

Terry Thornton said...

Granny Sue, What a service you've done to mankind! Drivers on rural roads have a most unique set of rules and you covered all of the bases (and them you missed, your astute readers filled them in). LOL!

What a fun article. Thanks.

Granny Sue said...

I try, Terry, I try.

Anonymous said...

When the "more experienced" folks that live on the road say "That (insert teenager/or other new driver on the road) will be the next, you mark my words!" They are usually right. They have seen it before as the ditches, embankments, mailboxes will testify.


Kathy said...

I found it Granny Sue! This is great - love it and so, so true. Country life is country life no matter what part of the country your from.


Mary H. said...

Hehehe. Very true. My sister Priscilla sent me this because we live a couple of miles down a gravel road. I find myself waving at people on the blacktop out of habit. They think I'm nuts.

I overheard a woman telling someone about how her teenagers got in a wreck because they were driving in someone's cloud of dust and didn't realize how close they all were to the stop sign.

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