Ah, it's that time of year again. Time to welcome all those who come to the desert seeking its warmth, its mayonnaise- and jalapeño-slathered hot dogs, and its gargantuan array of "Old West" souvenirs - quite possibly the largest assortment ever seen this side of China.
Which means our potholes, roadside construction sites and three-light intersections are now inundated with motorists who have no clue as to this town's rules of the road. But enough about the locals.
Today's missive - or survival guide, if you will - is aimed at all you good folk who may not know a chimichanga from a Chihuahua, but you know, by gum, how to thread a 40-foot motor home into the last parking slot over at the Casino del Moola.
With that in mind, let's review some of the more common types of motorists you're likely to encounter during your stay:
• The Clinger: This is the guy, or gal, whose front grille is irresistibly drawn to your rear bumper. You're tooling along when all of a sudden you notice a giant grille in your rearview mirror, one so close that you can actually determine the sex of its affixed insects. Solution: Adjust your mirror upward so that it reflects only blue sky, dirigibles floating above used-car lots or the extreme top of the speed camera you just blew by in an effort to shake The Clinger.
• Hokey-Pokey Speedster: Here's a motorist who likes to maintain a constant speed somewhere between 5 and 85 miles per hour. Sometimes known to hold the dual title of Lane Changer, this driver will often cut right in front of you, then sloooow way down, perhaps to admire the many wind-blown tissues, dead lizards and other assorted wonderments to be found along our highways and byways. One thing that's consistent, however, is this driver's sudden need to speed through any and all yellow lights, leaving you, of course, waiting on red. Solution: See The Clinger, above.
• The Hesitation Stopper: Stymied by road construction dating back to the Geronimo Era, this motorist must contend with four-way stops at many of our torn-up intersections. Trouble is, Hesitation Stopper hasn't a clue as to who's on first, electing instead to either: 1) Proceed without delay; 2) Nudge his car with a series of playful spurts just slightly into the intersection; or, 3) Remain frozen in place until someone behind him thoughtfully blows a horn. Solution: Drive only between the hours of 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., when traffic - and construction - is lightest.
• The Sharer: Anxious to impart his or her tastes in music, politics or, perhaps fittingly, car commercials, The Sharer enjoys cranking down the windows and cranking up his or her state-of-the-art audio system. What better way to delve into Tucson's rich stew of cultural, ideological or commercial idiosyncrasies, even as your temporal lobes begin to throb. Don't agree? Try earplugs.
• Red Arrow Runner: Tucson, as you may have noted by now, has many intersections with lagging left-turn lights timed to turn from red to green. For Red Arrow Runner, however, red is merely a primary color as he or she - often in numbers - scoots through the intersection long after the light or arrow has again gone red. Solution: never assume, just because you now have a green light, that it is actually safe to enter such an intersection. Wait until the last Red Arrow Runner gets through - or the sound of screeching brakes and crunching metal ensues.
• The Yielder: Rare to nonexistent these days, this is the motorist who actually knows what "Yield" means - other than what bad girls do on the first date. This same driver may also take part in a quaint little ritual known as Proper Signaling. If you spot such an exotic creature, give thanks. It could be the highlight of your visit - at least on Tucson's mean streets.
Bonnie Henry's column runs every other Sunday. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org