Daryl and the AIDS-laden Turtle

I turned down a long narrow road after picking Daryl up from football practice. As I approached the end of the road, I noticed something in the way. At first I thought it was just a bit of tire from a semi-truck, but as I got closer, I saw it for what it was.

There was a medium/smallish turtle standing still in the center of my lane, head stretched up toward the sky. The road was a divided two-lane road with curbs on the side and on the median. There was literally no way for me to go around the turtle. Maybe my truck could pass over the top of him, if he ducked his head into his shell, but I didn’t want to chance it.

“Hey,” I said to my oblivious son. “Go move the turtle.”

“Huh?”

“Go move the turtle. Take him all the way over to the other side. Not just the median and not back that way,” I said, as I motioned around us. Since my last turtle-in-the-road debacle, I had learned that you move turtles in the direction they are going. Doing anything else will just cause them to enter the road again.

“What?”

“GET OUT OF THE TRUCK. GO MOVE THE TURTLE.”

“Huh?” He looked up from his phone. “Oh, hey! Look! There’s a turtle!”

“YES! That’s what I said. Now go move him,” I said, repeating all the details of where.

“But why?”

“He’s blocking my path. Just go move him!” I said, checking that there was no one behind us.

“But what if it’s a snapping turtle?”

“It’s not.”

“But what if it is?”

“Then be careful. Just get out there and pick him up.”

Daryl exited the truck and approached the turtle with a level of caution I would typically reserve for mountain lions or rattle snakes – assuming I was being forced to approach them for some reason.

He started to pick up the turtle and it moved suddenly. Daryl jumped back. He started trying to “shoo” the turtle by pushing it with his foot. The turtle responded by running in the wrong direction and then turning to face him.

The dance continued as I rolled down my window and called out, “Just pick him up and move him!”

“But he’s trying to bite me!”

“No he’s not!”

“Yes he is!”

“Just move the turtle, boy! What’s wrong with you?” I asked, exasperated but reaching for my cell phone to catch his hesitation on film.

His fourth or fifth attempt at lifting the turtle, he didn’t jerk and let go when it moved its legs and he quickly moved it… to the median. Not to the other side of the other lane as I had instructed.

“No!” I cried out, knowing that the turtle would now have to cross the other lane as well. “Move him all the way to the other side!”

“No!” he responded in kind as he returned to the car. “He’s out of the way and there’s a car coming up behind us now.”

“Only because you took so long! Now he’s going to have to cross the other street.”

“That’ll take him a million years to get to it.” (The median was very narrow).

“No it won’t. I saw how fast he moved on you! Why were you afraid of the turtle?”

“I wasn’t afraid of the turtle.”

“You were totally afraid of the turtle.”

“No. It was an alligator snapping turtle.”

“It was not.”

“It was trying to bite me!”

“No it wasn’t!”

“It kept touching me.”

“So?”

“I’d go to pick it up and then it would start walking and its leg would touch my hand. Yuck!”

“So what?”

“It might give me AIDS.”

“You can’t get AIDS from a turtle!”

“You don’t know that.”

“Actually, I do.”

“I could have gotten AIDS.”

“Turtles don’t get AIDS. You can’t get AIDS from touching a turtle.”

“Uh-huh. He could have been rolling around in it. He could have had it all over him.”

“AIDS is a condition that you can develop if you contract the HIV virus. It’s not something that turtles can ‘pick up’ from ‘rolling around’ in the grass. HIV can’t survive out in the open long enough for that to be a thing.”

“Yes it can. I know these things. I’m in Biology.”

We traveled in silence for a while before I brought it back up. “If you had just finished picking it up, then its legs would have just sagged and not been touching you anymore.”

“No! It’d keep running. Vrrr-vrrr-vrrr,” he said, making rapid ‘running’ motions with his arms and sound effects with his mouth.

“It doesn’t matter anyway. It’s just a turtle. You are a wuss.”

“No I’m not. Man, I’m tough. That was an alligator snapping turtle!”

“No it wasn’t!”

He answered his phone about then. His dad was calling. Daryl gave him our approximate location and then sat silently as he listened to his dad talk.

I leaned over slightly and called out, “Your son was afraid of a turtle!”

“It was an alligator turtle,” he protested, “and it could have given me AIDS!”

His dad must have mentioned that the turtle couldn’t give him AIDS because turtles are cold blooded, because Daryl then said, “It’s called cold blooded AIDS. C-B-A-I-D-S. It’s real man.”

Daryl then passed on a question from his dad – what were my plans for the night.

“I need to write a blog post,” I responded.

Daryl dutifully told his dad, “She’s going to write a blog post.” Then there was the briefest pause as realization of the topic struck him, “{Smack} Hey!”

I just laughed. The phone conversation ended and we drove along in silence some more. As we approached the intersection at which I had totaled a previous car due to rubber-necking while people were dealing with a very large honest-to-goodness alligator snapping turtle, I brought it up again.

“You know, I watched an eleven year old girl in a dance leotard – BARE FOOTED – pick up an actual alligator snapping turtle, much bigger than the one you were afraid of, and carry it all the way across the highway.”

“I wasn’t afraid of it!”

“Yes you were. You are a wuss. Weaker than an eleven year old girl.”

“No! Eleven year old girls are just too young! They don’t know any better. They are too stupid to avoid them.”

“Whatever. You are a wuss.”

“Uh-huh. And is that eleven year old girl going to play football? Huh? I don’t think so.” He sat back with a smug, self-satisfied smile.

“Don’t try to change the subject. You might play football but you were afraid of a little turtle. Wuss.”

You know, don’t tell Daryl, but it might really have been a snapping turtle. It wasn’t big and I don’t think it could have gotten its head around to bite Daryl, but it was responding rather aggressively. Just don’t tell him I said that though. OK?

And in case you are wondering, Daryl knows he can’t get AIDS from a turtle. It’s just fun when he pretends to be a confidently wrong idiot and we banter back and forth. He also knows he was being timid and I know (and he knows that I know) he’s not really a wuss. Except when it comes to turtles, of course.

 

 

DWI: Driving While (an) Idiot

I have a new theory about why teenaged drivers are so bad. I know the conventional wisdom is that they are young, inexperienced, and think of themselves as invinsible. Their frontal lobe, the part of the brain that controls impulsive behavior, is not yet fully developed. I think all of these are probably contributing factors. But I can’t help but think that so many teenaged drivers are bad simply because they are emulating what they’ve learned from their elders.

I’ve been driving my kids to school for three weeks now. It’s usually my husband’s job and I’ll be very happy when he resumes the role of complaining about the idiots at the Middle School. I can go back to just mumbling about the ones at the Elementary School I drive past on my way to work. It’ll be a vast improvement.

The road in front of the middle school is very wide – wide enough for a car on each side to pull over and still leave plenty of room for cars going both directions to pass at the same time. It’s also not a major road. The only traffic is comprised of parents dropping off their children.

And many of these parents have no respect for other drivers and some have an alarming lack of concern about the safety of their children. There’s a crosswalk. It doesn’t have a crossing guard but everyone knows it’s there and tend to watch for people walking in it. The sane parents pull over to the curb near the crosswalk. Their kid gets out and uses the crosswalk. Maybe the parent sits and watches until the kid makes it across the street, and then they pull out and continue in the same direction their car was already pointed.

Yesterday, one mom just stopped in the middle of the road, as many are prone to do, but she took the disregard for all the other drivers a step further when she continued to sit there long after her kid had finished crossing the street. I can only assume she was watching her kid walk all the way into the building. If she’s that concerned (or maybe fears the kid will try to skip?), perhaps she should park in the parking lot and walk him in. She could hold his hand for good measure if she’d like.

I was able to pull over and let Jane out by the crosswalk. By the time Jane made it across the street, the other mom still hadn’t left. I had to come up on her right side and go past her while she still sat in the middle of the road. I don’t get it.

The man today took the cake though. He did pull over – I’ll grant him that much. But he did it way before the crosswalk. I was coming up behind him and was getting ready to go past him when his daughter popped up behind his car, preparing to cross the street clogged with parents bringing their children. I sat there wondering if she was going to go and finally decided she was (wisely) waiting on me. So I started to go on by. At the same time, a car was approaching from the other direction.

At that exact moment, with his daughter standing behind his vehicle and cars approaching from both directions, this dad decided to execute a quick U-turn in the road. Of course, he was trying to do it from a dead stop in an SUV and he’s apparently not that skilled at it, so of course, he wasn’t able to complete the turn. That left him stopped perpendicular in the road; blocking me, blocking his daughter, blocking (and nearly hitting) the car coming from the other direction.

We all waited for His Highness to back up and complete his U-turn before we went about our obviously-much-less-important-than-him ways.

Jane thinks there’s no point in us griping about these people. She thinks we should just wait patiently for their idiocy and selfishness to clear out of our way. She’s obviously never been behind the wheel.

As I pulled away from the Middle School this morning, I switched the audio system back from Aux (we had been listening to Jane’s iPod) to FM. We caught the radio DJ saying, “You just have to forgive young and stupid.”

“What about old and stupid?” I asked. Daryl laughed.

A friend who teaches at the High School assures me it’s not just the Middle School parents. She has dealt with parents blocking her access to the teacher parking lot so they can let their teenaged driver extract band instruments, etc. before walking into the building. The teacher friend then waits as the mom walks around the car to the driver’s seat. Nevermind that the front of the school is the intended location for parent drop off.

I guess this makes sense though. If the parents haven’t matured by the time their kids make it to the Middle School, odds are that their kid transitioning from eighth to nineth grade won’t do the trick either.

So, see? Maybe all the bad teenaged driving is related to all the bad grown-up driving.

Just Turn Already!

My husband honked his horn at another driver this weekend.  Not once, but twice.  To understand what a big deal this is, you have to know my husband.  He’s a fairly patient driver.  He doesn’t speed.  He doesn’t crowd people.  He doesn’t float stop signs.  But he doesn’t suffer idiots lightly.

Let me set the stage for you.  We were pulling into the Wal-Mart parking lot.  This was at the very end of the parking lot and the entrance was under construction.  This meant that when you turned into the entrance, you could not go straight as most people normally would.  You had to turn right.  Any vehicles exiting here would be turning left to leave.  The road adjacent to the parking lot was one way.  Here’s a picture:

The truck, labeled ‘T’, was exiting the construction area.  The woman who provoked my husband’s ire, labeled ‘TL’ (for ‘timid lady’) was in the red car and we were in the green.  TL pulled into the entrance part way and then stopped, waiting for T to pull out of the construction zone.  There was no need for this because T was traveling straight and therefore not impeding TL’s progress.  He couldn’t turn left when he exited since the road was one way.  There was, in short, no reason for the woman to stop her own progress.  But she did.  So my husband, who’s rear was hanging out in the road, honked at her.

She moved forward slightly but then stopped again as if she were at a stop sign.  The truck was still sitting next to us.  She motioned to the first car waiting to exit to go ahead and go.  Again, her right turn did not prevent A’s left turn.  Nor did A’s left turn prevent TL’s right turn.  No one needed to take turns here.  Nonetheless, she encouraged them to turn.

Of course, they couldn’t because T was still sitting there.  So they indicated to her that she should go on.  She motioned that she preferred them to go.  They motioned to her again.  This time my husband, beside himself with frustration at the idiocy on display, honked again.  For a longer duration.  She indicated with a central digit on her left hand what she thought of his honking but went ahead and made her turn.  A and B were looking straight ahead.  C was outright laughing at the scene.  I think D was wondering if they’d ever get to leave the parking lot.

We engaged in the usual “what was that woman’s problem?!” discussion as we proceeded to find a parking space near the grocery end of the store.  The woman, thankfully, progressed to the other end.  With any luck, we wouldn’t recognize each other in the store.

I could come up with only two possible explanations for the woman’s behavior.  The first is an overabundance of “manners”.  That is, she’s one of those drivers who throws the rules of the road aside and lets others go ahead of her.  People think they are being polite in these situations, but it’s actually a pretty bad idea.  If you have the right-of-way, you need to go.  To not go causes problems.  To motion others to go instead can cause even greater problems if someone else is not expecting them to go.  No, leave the manners for the dinner table and just follow the rules when driving.  Please.

The other explanation seems like the more likely and is why I named her Timid Lady here.  She might be one of those drivers that isn’t comfortable in tight spaces.  Specifically, she can’t make a right turn without first veering far out to her left.  So, in this situation, she wasn’t going to be able to comfortably turn right until the construction truck and the entire line of vehicles waiting to leave had vacated the area.

Oh, wait!  I just thought of a third explanation.  Perhaps she is a passive aggressive driver.  She hesitated as the truck was moving for whatever reason but after my husband honked at her, she decided to “show him” by making him wait for all the other traffic to clear out.

Regardless, I wasn’t impressed.  I had fun drawing my diagram in Microsoft Paint though, and we verified that our horn is still functional.  So I guess it worked out ok in the end.