Tourist Drivers

I need to warn you that this post will be as close to a rant as I’ve ever come. So if this isn’t your cup of tea, I understand, and I will slide down from my broom on Monday. I promise.

As I’ve been discussing this week, it’s tourist season here on the island. Tourists bring many great things with them to the island, including energy and excitement that’s infectious. It’s just a fun time here right now, in many ways.

Tourists also bring automobiles with them, which are understandable necessities. Less understandable, however, are tourists who need to consistently drive 20+ miles below the speed limit and who literally swerve all over the road looking at the sights.

I try, try, try to be sympathetic. I do want people to enjoy themselves here on our little slice of paradise. I also fully understand the experience of being in a new place and trying to find your way around.  But it’s very hard, especially when these swerving, snail-paced tourists are clearly oblivious to me, and to the fact that I am, sadly, not on vacation, and therefore need to be mildly productive with my life day.

It’s difficult, for instance, to be patient when you just got a call from your son’s school, saying he’s sick and needs to go home, and you are stuck behind some happy-go-lucky tourist driving 20+ miles below the speed limit, staring at everything but the road as she/he drives, assuming the rest of the world is on vacation too. Great. My child’s sitting in the elementary school office due to puke again in 6 minutes, and I, along with a steadily increasing number of drivers behind me, have to wait for you to read and make riveting commentary on the names and/or colors of every single beach house you pass (a large percentage of the houses here have plaques on them with the houses’ names, oh, and we’re not always all about neutral here in coastal Carolina). Seriously? This is not a hypothetical; it really happened to me.

Also thrilling in that edge-of-your-seat kind of way is when tourists are driving, pointing each way, looking at whatever, and the driver is swerving off the road or into the other lane in whatever direction the person next to him/her is pointing. This is why I try to stay as far off the roads of our island as possible when I’m walking with the small people. I suppose you could argue that it makes otherwise monotonous activities like getting the mail a little more exciting.  “Okay, honey, if I don’t return in a moment, make sure you pay the electric bill, and in all the confusion of getting me into the ambulance, try to pick up all the mail that will likely be scattered all over the road, since my paycheck will probably be in with it all, which will be helpful for paying all the impending medical costs.” Yes, I am sympathetic. The names of beach houses are especially thrilling when you come from the Midwest and you grew up reading Anne of Green Gables, where the notion of houses with names is a wildly romantic one. I was that girl when I first moved here too. I understand the draws of a named, colorful house. I do, I do, I do. I do not understand, under any circumstances, swerving wildly in and out of your lane for miles on end, or driving 20+ miles under the speed limit for more than a half-second in time. As a former Chicagoan, it’s just not in my blood. In Chicago, those practices would earn you more unfriendly “hand gestures” than committing a felony.

In the interest of full disclosure and to debunk this perfection myth that swirls around my image, I have to confess that I was once pulled over by one of our friendly island law enforcement officials for swerving in what I feel was a controlled manner over the white line. As he walked up to my door, I knew there was only one thing to do, which was to tell him the truth. So I did.

“Sorry sir, the bakery’s been closed for a long time. I’ve heard glad tidings of its reopening, so I was trying read the signs (the bakery was on the right hand side of the road and I was in the beginning throes of what I presume is age-related eyesight deterioration) to see when it would be reopening,” I explained. And after all, it was winter, a season of relative dormancy and depopulation for the island, so there were probably a grand total of three other people on the entire island driving automobiles at that moment, which made my crash odds pretty slim.

After ascertaining that I didn’t have a flask in my lap and that I spoke with a strange coherence for a pastry-driven mother with three filled car seats in my minivan at noontime, he quickly realized that I was simply a woman swayed by the promise of chocolaty goodness, and he let me go, albeit with a warning.

This, my friends, was an anomaly in my otherwise efficient driving career. I am not a speed demon by any stretch of the imagination, less you misunderstand. I’m merely efficient. Which means, I do not drive 20+ miles under the speed limit nor do I swerve repeated all over the road, because that might, quite literally, be impossible for me, unless someone paid me in dark chocolate to do so. (If you are new to An Island Mom, chocolate is a recurring theme here, for reasons I believe are obvious if you’ve ever tasted the heaven-sent wonder.)

So, here’s the thing. For the love of all that is good and decent, if you are a tourist this summer, enjoy the heck out of your vacation (and welcome to the beach, y’all!), but could you pretty please drive the speed limit and stay in your lane? Because somewhere out there, there’s a mom with a blog and a penchant for chocolate that needs to get somewhere before her kid pukes again. Or something equally grave.

4 Replies to “Tourist Drivers”

  1. Busy couple of days, so I’m just getting caught up on your blog, and I just want to thank you for another good giggle in my day! Glad to know you, bloggily speaking!

    1. Hey, good to hear from you again! Glad I could make you laugh a little. BTW, my thoughts and prayers are with your husband and family this week. Best wishes with everything going on.

  2. Confession: I read this entire post out loud to Hubby. Today kicks off the National Cherry Festival, so we ventured into town today for the Cherry Pit Spit competition. (Yep, it’s as classy as it sounds.) All the while, driving behind swerving tourists driving 20+ below the speed limit, unless of course they decide they need to turn left from the far right lane and cut me off, and which point they speed up and do just that.

    I honestly thought of you when I was driving through our downtown area and saw many a (barely) dressed tourist browsing the shops. The kicker today was the guy sipping coffee in front of the coffee shop, wearing a neon orange speedo & nothing else. Not even flip flops. 😉

    1. Oh, the sudden crossing several lanes of traffic because I just realized I need to turn here move is a great one. So true!

      Well, the fact that a man in a neon orange speedo sipping coffee makes you think of me is a little disconcerting!:) No seriously, that’s just wrong on so many levels. Who’s that oblivious? Or that ready to let it all out there??

      I have to say, I would love to go to the Cherry Pit Spit competition. It might not be classy, but I bet it’s lots of fun!

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