Monday, March 25, 2013


For Every Action, There Is An Equal and Opposite Reaction

If you’ve been keeping up on my blog posts, you will have discovered by now I am not a shy person.  Interacting with people is what I do all day at work, and I truly enjoy all my social outlets as well.  I like meeting and talking to new people--it’s usually a very positive and pleasant experience...unless it’s on the road.  This blog post could be a mile long given I have quite an assortment of stories, so I have chosen a few that you may find interesting. 

When I was doing a lot of on-line dating (that has stopped some time ago now and those stories will be in my future published book), I had affectionate little nick names for all of my dates, mainly because each one was a disaster.  The names I chose accurately described the person and/or their personality or character trait, so when I name the next potential-date by-driving guy “The Nose Picker” can guess why.  Everything seems to happen on Granville Street for me, so, there I was, driving up Granville to work one morning, and whilst at one of the lights, a guy pulls up to the right of me.  We look at each other, and he’s super cute, so I smile, he smiles and we did this at the next two lights, with the last smiling encounter ending in him signaling for me to pull over so he can give me his number.  So I’m thinking...mmm...middle of rush hour on a busy street, should be ok.  He ends up pulling in behind me thanks to the bus, and all it took was one look in the rear view and I saw the pick.  He was in there full throttle, and all I could do was throw my hands up and shout “Nooooo!”.  How was it possible that my on-line dating life was appearing in my Monday morning commute?  Eek.  Needless to say, I did not stop to get the picker’s number.

Then there was the UPS guy.  I had skipped lunch one day and stopped into Meinhardt Foods to pick up a few things, and before I headed down Granville towards home, I opened a bag of organic corn chips and was eating them along the way to satisfy my hunger.  I was driving behind a big UPS truck with a driver who thought he was in a sports car--I watched him switch in and out of the lanes with the truck swaying back and forth, looking like it was going to topple each time.  We get up to King Edward, and he makes eye contact with me in his side-view mirror so I take the opportunity to point at him, give him the “L” (for Loser) and then hold my hands out to imitate him driving crazily.  The light turns green and 2 minutes later we’re now at 41st, and he’s still in front of me.  He then makes eye contact again, and gestures at me with the “L”, and then over-does an imitation of me eating my corn chips.  Well, I flew into a fury but then burst out laughing, because it was quite funny--I was really plowing those things back.  Anyway, we get up to the next light at 49th and now I’m to the right of him, and he has no right door on the truck and my window is down, so he shouts at me, “Hey, I’m pretty funny, aren’t I?  What do you say we go out sometime?”  I just wasn’t feeling it, so I thanked him for making me look like an oinky pig and sped off.

I’ve had many interactions with Taxi drivers because I prefer the right lane.  Please don’t get me wrong--I am not an advocate for unsafe, aggressive driving; however, I am very disappointed in taxi drivers these days.  They’re just not like they used to be.  The right lane used to move fluently, without, it’s all clogged up with pokey cab drivers that are distracted on their phones.  

On a serious note, my biggest pet peeve while driving is seeing people NOT stop and pull over when an emergency vehicle is coming.  When I was younger, a friend of mine’s father was in a serious car accident, and because they could not get through the traffic thanks to people not yielding, he ended up dying before they reached the hospital (the paramedics confirmed he could have been saved it they weren’t delayed).  I have zero tolerance for people who disregard the fact that someone’s life may be at stake.  I’m a nice person with a happy disposition, but when I see that happen in front of me, the offender gets the pleasure of a full-on lecture from me.  Who the hell is teaching people how to drive today anyway?  Oh wait, I can answer that.

My friends had a good laugh at this, but I actually was going to apply to be a driving instructor at Young Drivers of Canada.  They wouldn’t take me part time (I have a full time job already), and I discovered they pay their full time instructors $26,000 per’s some high quality instruction.  

I’ve had a few interactions that I’m not proud of, but it’s always in the interest of safety (or is it?).  This one is for my friend Deb who is Chinese (well, she’s Chinese but not really).  I’ve had to use my limited Asian language skills* at times while driving given Vancouver has a large Asian population.  I was driving up Granville (see, everything happens on Granville), and there was a woman (who happen to be Chinese) driving behind me, literally a foot from my bumper.  I was certain if there were any unexpected stops she would go right into me.  So, I did a huge no-no.  I was the first car that the light at King Edward and Granville, I got out of my car, went up to her driver window, and knocked pleasantly on the window (with a smile).  She rolled it down, and I shouted “Stay the f--- away from my car” in the best Mandarin I could get out (there is no translation for the F word, so that was in English).  Well, the look of horror was priceless--she wasn’t expecting that, but she definitely understood me given she stayed at least three car lengths away from me during the rest of the drive.  *Limited Asian language skills = “Hello, how are you?” and “Stay the f--- away from my car."

Now, after all that has been said, please know that I have discovered the link to my somewhat assertive personality in my car directly to my previous commute, whereby I spent almost 3 hours a day in my car.  That is no longer.  I have moved on to a healthier work environment and a shorter commute resulting in a more sane experience in my vehicle.  This is for the good of everyone, meaning, I’m not the lunatic anymore that I have portrayed myself to be.  I am quite calm and if something happens whereby I am being shouted at for some reason, I just smile and wave.  That seems to throw people into a rage actually, but I know that I can carry on to enjoy my day sans high blood pressure.

The last installment of my Life As A Commuter blog posts is Part 3, Denise’s Driving Survival Tips...stay tuned!

Sunday, March 17, 2013


The Things I Have Seen...And What People Have Seen From Me

It’s been a long time coming for me to write about commuting.  What a surprise that I now have the time to write about it given that I actually don’t have a lengthy commute anymore.

It’s amazing what you see on the road--what people do in their vehicles, how they drive, and their reactions to outside stimuli, like me.  I put in 13 years of commuting from Steveston to West Vancouver and back again each day--crossing 5 bridges and almost losing my insanity by the end of it (turned out it was actually where I was spending my day that almost cost me my sanity).  Writing about my commuting adventures is probably more worthy than one simple blog post given there is such a plethora of material, hence the reason why I’ve split the subject into three parts and a possible on-going feature from time to time.  The abundance of stories are not just from commuting to and from work either--I just seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in my car.  It makes me happy to be the designated driver for my friends so I know they get home safely and I always offer to drive if there is a choice.  The conclusion is that I really enjoy driving--either that or I have some serious control issues or perhaps it’s a combination of both.  And if you consider that I aspire to drive NASCAR or a reasonable facsimile someday, then voila, you are now a little bit closer to understanding how I feel behind the wheel.

Comedians have played this over and over but it’s true--people really do believe that they are in some kind of invisible bubble when they are in their car.  This is what I want to say to the people who are in the bubble: “You know, I can see you in there--I can see you picking your nose and wiping it on the upholstery,” or, “Oh there was no time to shave this morning so you’re doing it in your car where all the little hairs can fall on to your business suit--isn’t that hygienic.”  And while I am busy grossing out (yes, I’m an 80‘s girl), I’m watching these people weave all over the road because god forbid you could shove your finger straight up your nose and still drive in your lane at same time.  

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have done a ridiculous amount of weird stuff in my car too, but that’s with knowing full well that everyone can see me.  I’ve stopped at a light and put lipstick/mascara/eyeliner on--perfectly normal.  I’ve eaten bananas in my car and have unintentionally almost caused some serious car accidents as a result of making eye contact with the other drivers (typically male)--I’ve stopped doing that now.  I always dance as much as one can dance in their car.  I like to sing loudly, and I like to sing to other drivers at times.  I also like to air guitar some of my heavy metal when the mood should strike (like Iron Maiden or Slayer for example).  I have had to put deodorant on in my car once but that was an isolated incident, but again, I was fully aware I was being watched.  I have changed outfits, acted out Shakespeare, and learned other languages like French and Italian--all while driving in my car.

I’m sure you’re wondering what kind of driver I am now.  There is one very good friend of mine in particular, Lisa, who will dispute what I am about to write to her dying day because she happened to witness a mixology of incidents while I was driving her home one night.  I am an excellent driver--not one accident in my 26 years of driving.  And yes, that evening I was with Lisa, I almost mowed down a pedestrian (with a baby carriage) but she had no reflective decals on her at all (she did happened to be in a crosswalk, but that’s beside the point).  Then I think there was some guy on his bike, again, in the dark with no reflective wear...and you get the gist.  

Another time my good friend Sheral was driving with me down Bellevue in West Vancouver and out of nowhere, some woman just decided to cross the road (NOT at a crosswalk) and I just waved her back to the sidewalk, shouted to her “go back, go back” and stepped on the gas--she went back alright. And if I don’t like you and you are in front of my car, just ask my daughter’s ex-principal at her old elementary school what that’s like.  She was horrible to my daughter (my daughter is autistic) so I didn’t see the harm in almost running this woman over in the school parking lot.  Ah, there’s nothing like shoving it in neutral, revving the engine, turning on Judas Priest’s “You Got Another Thing Coming”, slamming it into gear and letting it rip--nobody messes with my girl (I’ll ask my friend Jody to back me on that one). 

I openly admit I don’t particularly care for pedestrians which is why I plead my case about living in London, England some day.  I would be perfect there considering pedestrians would think twice about walking out in front of moving vehicles.  The drivers in London are equally as crazy as me and of course driving on the other side of the road and being on the other side of the car would add a whole new component to my already interesting driving repertoire.  

It’s funny--I always ask for feedback and comments on my blog...I will say I’m a little nervous on this one.  Maybe you’re the person whose been the unlucky one driving in front of me, or you have been on the receiving end of me shouting driving tips at you (recently I have been doing this in Italian).  All I ask, is please be gentle. 

In Part 2, stay tuned for more about what I have witnessed while on the road, those all-too-famous interactions I’ve had with other drivers, and lastly, in Part 3, some handy tips from me while driving in Vancouver.