Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Playing "Chicken" With The Tourists

That's not entirely accurate: it was the tourist who played "chicken" with me.

This past Sunday I had to run an errand to West End (which is more like going 'up north' - okay, I won't go into the semantics) and the car needed some gas. Now, some people might not think that detouring to the gas station as a life-altering coincidence but, in this case, I might have just saved the lives (or prevented personal injury) of several tourists.

Imagine, if you will, a stretch of road with two cars traveling toward one another. Midway between the vehicles is an intersection at which exists a stop sign and at which two other vehicles await their cue to proceed safely to their own destinations. As I traveled toward the intersection intending to make my left turn, the oncoming vehicle is traveling toward me - in the same lane! We were almost equidistant from the intersection and, not knowing how fast the oncoming car was moving or in which direction it intended to travel, I flashed my lights at it in alarm.

Without moving to the proper lane, the oncoming car continued forward but reached the intersection before me and decided to turn, narrowly missing the car sitting at the stop sign. Thankfully, the vehicle at the stop sign checked both directions before proceeding forward and noticed the wrong-way traveller, as it is very common here for some Bahamians to ignore stop signs and stop lights, or many other rules of traffic for that matter.

Mr. Wrong Way quickly realized his error, probably after almost having a heart attack when he turned the corner and saw two other vehicles in the lane he thought he should be traveling.

How did I know he was a tourist, you ask? All vehicles here are given a certain colour of licence plate and that colour depends on its use and/or ownership. Rental cars are given white licence plates with the alphabetical prefix of "SD" followed by a number. I always wondered what was meant by the "SD" designation. Now I know: "Stoopid Driver".

Nobody ever said Bahamians didn't have a sense of humour.

26 comments:

  1. Dang, Double O- I'm just glad there were no head on collisions involved. Not only do you need to worry about hurricanes but also stupid tourists! Come to Cali for the season dear. Oh wait! We have stupid drivers too!

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  2. Linda: If that car had turned the corner just before those other arrived, it could have surely been a lot worse! Oy!

    Oh, and when I have the chance (and the cojones to fly), I will be there in, stupid drivers or not!

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  3. Haha! Stupid Driver is probably right! As a tourist, I'm sure most of the locals usually think I'm an idiot for whatever reason!

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  4. Reffie: No worries, you could always blame it on Evil Twin!

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  5. There's a reason why I never drive a car when I'm on vacation - I would probably be one of those stupid drivers that end up driving the wrong way on a way one street.

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  6. Ziva: There aren't many main one-way streets on our island and, if you did make a boo-boo here or elsewhere, they'd notice your plate colour, forgive you then laugh like hell afterward. Besides, all you'd have to do is just smile and wave, just smile and wave!
    ;-)

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  7. Age much in that moment? Yikes! That sounded like a disaster just waiting to happen. We get 'em up here too. We can usually spot 'em coming. Their plates usually white with blue lettering and have QUEBEC on them.

    ::snort::

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  8. Yee-ow-za!

    I'm glad this didn't end up in a wreck. Although if it had, you could've been the primary witness against the other driver. Their insurance could have contacted you and offered you 200,000 dollars to keep it a secret or you could have written about this ordeal into a multi-million dollar book and gone on a book publicity tour flying private jets and limosines.

    I guess what I'm saying is: it's all relative, baby!

    hee hee hee

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  9. Cheryl: Bwahahahahaha! I am soooooo glad I didn't have a mouthful of anything when I read that - I almost fell off of my chair! I am from Ontario and I know all about the driving habits of some Quebeckers. Absolutely priceless!!! (Um, Nicky, Jepeto and/or CheesyMike, if you're reading this, no offence, K?)

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  10. Quirks: Am I sensing a "Travolta Style" scandal here? Hmmm ... maybe if there was an actual celebrity in the car I might have gotten away with it.
    ;-)

    (Um, John, if you are reading this, no offence, K?)

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  11. Hey! I take offence at Cheryl's comment. I resemble that remark. But shifting gears for a moment (heh, heh) Ziva's comment makes me think of that joke about the cop who stops the driver going the wrong way on a one way street. He says to the driver,"Didn't you see the arrow?" And the driver says,"Arrow?, Hell, I didn't even see the Indians. *ba-rump-bump* I'm here all week.

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  12. dufus: My bad. *hangs head in apology* In my mind, somehow, I thought you lived in Ontario. But, psst, don't tell Cheryl, Ontarians also have white with blue lettering on their plates.

    I might take offense at your comment/joke (albeit funny), since I am part Metis - yes, redundant, I know.

    Eh! But we be Canadian: It's like beer flowing off a loons back.
    ;-)

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  13. Hahaha...I just saw Cheryl's comment. I'm glad I caught it.

    But yeah, Quebec drivers have a horrible reputation. Many are impatient, and many more are just not aware at all.

    Glad you averted that potential accident!

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  14. CheesyMike: Yeah - Cheryl's comment had me howling too!
    ;-)

    The driver would've stopped before he hit me had he continued straight - it was just lucky that there were cars at the corner and not just pulling up to the stop sign when he turned. It's a farily blind corner approaching it from the correct side of the road!

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  15. I also live in a tourist community that is right in the middle of one of California's most popular wine industry locales, so not only are the tourist drivers here stupid, they're also drunk.
    Good times.

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  16. Jayne: Heh, heh. Not so much lately, but years ago you could catch a cop or two walking out of the liquour store with a 'brown baggie'. Really!

    I don't think the guy was drunk (yet) - too early in the day, but, yeah, since we drive on the left here, one must be on their toes with the tourists. Thankfully it wasn't in a roundabout! Oy!
    ;-)

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  17. You should've sped up and forced him off the road. It would've made all the papers and you'd be a folk hero for ridding the island of one more tourist.

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  18. BonyMike: Since the main industry here is tourism, I'd probably end up tarred and feathered and paraded around at Junkanoo. No, we don't want to scare off the tourists and, besides, I'm allergic to tar.

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  19. Oh, you like tourists. I grew up in a tourist town called Colorado Springs, and we hated them, in large part because of their shitty driving. So I made an assumption about you and yours. I apologize.

    Out of curiosity, and I admit I'm a little scared to hear the answer, what's a Junkanoo?

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  20. BonyMike: So, the tourists in Colorado Springs drove on the wrong side of the road?? Heh, heh. No apologies necessary. Frankly, there are some Bahamians who drive worse than the tourists. Really.

    As for Junkanoo, it's an annual parade, much like Carnival or Mardi Gras, with hand-made costumes, and occurs during Christmas and New Years holidays.

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  21. As a serial bus-driver annoyer, (I don't drive) I can only imagine the panic all round! I don't fully understand tourists that drive in strange countries. Your meant to leave your worries and chunks of metal behind to fully relax, you'd think!

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  22. Lena: Serial bus-driver annoyer?? Ha, ha! You must be a fun passenger! Luckily there isn't a whole bunch of traffic here, so the tourists are minor annoyances.
    ;-)

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  23. I don't mind driving in the states but won't try it overseas -- intimidated. Glad you are a fast thinker.

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  24. I Wonder Wye: Thanks for dropping by! I'm pretty good at left-side driving now, but may not like to chance it in London - way too much traffic there.

    Ha! It happened to me again the other day - two girls on scooters turned into the wrong lane, but it was in a parking lot so it wasn't that bad. We all laughed.

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