Driving here is so very different from driving in Britain. For a kickoff, the driving test is easier, so new drivers pass without having learnt enough about the road. There’s no test for a 3-point turn, reversing around the corner or parallel parking, and the examiner doesn’t watch to see if a learner looks into her rear-view mirror. That means there are terrible drivers on the roads.
But the most irritating thing about driving here is that everyone is really impatient. If a traffic light changes to green and my wheels don’t start rolling within 2 nano-seconds, the horns behind me start honking. If I take too long before overtaking a cyclist, the horns behind me start honking. If I give a pedestrian enough time to cross the road and step up onto the pavement, the horns behind me start honking. Horns honk at me every single day (that might be a tiny exaggeration).
It’s irritating, intimidating and flustering.
I wondered if I was inferring irritation, intimidation and fluster. Maybe the honking drivers were trying to inform and encourage me. Could this be just a culture difference that I was reading incorrectly?
But no. I don’t think that can be the case because if ever I need to use the loo at WholeFoods, people start knocking on the door. As soon as their footsteps approach, they feel the need to let me know they’re there. Why? It’s not as if I’m having a party in there. Those loos aren’t the most salubrious of environments. They don’t offer a great view. I’m not reading a book. My aim is to get out as fast as I can. Isn’t that what they do? Why bother knocking?