I wasn’t the only one nailed on Interstate 10 right by the Prince Road overpass construction. The motorcycle cops were picking us off like sand trout in a barrel. I’ll admit I stood out like Mario Andretti at the antique car ride at Old Tucson. Did I know how fast I was going?
“Do I look like an oracle, officer?”
“Oracle. I was looking for Oracle.”
There are many online driving schools from which to choose . I narrowed the list down to “Four Hours in Hell Traffic School,” “The 240 Minutes of Your Life You’ll Never Get Back Academy” and “Uncle Eddie’s Eternal Torment Traffic School.”
We all need refreshers. Especially Tucsonans. We’re different. When it rains, Tucson drivers put on life jackets, take the wheel like pirates and hydroplane into each other. We enjoy splashing pedestrians and pretending it was a mistake. And we’re mysteriously drawn to flooded washes like Richard Dreyfuss was drawn to the Devils Tower in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
I learned a lot from online traffic school. I learned it’s important to have a good driving attitude. A driver with a good attitude doesn’t gnaw on his steering wheel, grind his teeth, flip off drivers, or weave in and out of traffic like a roller-derby queen on Red Bull. I learned I’m a stellar driver because I don’t leave my left turn signal on and I can identify a stop sign from its shape. I learned I was wrong to think driving defensively in Tucson meant you should always carry a grenade launcher in your glove compartment, master bumper jujitsu and wear lighted road flares in your nostrils. I learned the most common cause of traffic collisions is being on the road. Amazing.
Here is a sampling of the quiz questions I plowed through like a Tucsonan late for anger counseling.
17. When approaching a detour in your lane make sure to _____
a) aim for the orange road cones.
b) bowl a perfect strike.
c) ape a move from “Grand Theft Auto.”
234. What should every driver know?
a) The driver in front of her is a moron.
b) The driver next to him is a jackass.
c) The tailgater behind you is an idiot.
d) You’re the greatest driver since Lightning McQueen
457. A solid white line along either side of the street 4 or more feet from the curb is _____
b) a bicycle lane.
c) a flour trail leading to a Waffle House.
567. A tire blows out, your hood suddenly flies up, your gas pedal gets stuck, and your steering wheel locks. You should _____
a) cover your eyes and shriek like RuPaul.
b) check your 401(k).
c) review your bucket list.
688. The road to hell is paved _____
a) in spite of those slackers at the city Transportation Department.
b) with asphalt.
c) but needs chip sealing because your windshield is crack-free.
Fantastic! You have passed Lesson 3624. Are you still there? How’s your coma? Sorry you broke the law yet? How are those eyelids, sparky? In the upper right-hand corner of the Web page, a tiny call-center vixen beckoned.
“Questions? Call our defensive driving specialist.”
I had a question: What kind of tool does the operator of this school use to rake in the money?
a) common garden rake.
c) John Deere wheat combine.
d) steam shovel bucket.
Hour 4 and the lessons kept coming like BMWs pouring out of Raytheon at rush hour. I learned a red light means “stop.” This was news to me. (Where I grew up, a red light meant “open for business.”)
I have a criticism of the course. The instructor missed some important points relevant to the art of driving in Tucson.
When driving into a setting sun without sunglasses, squint, cross your fingers and always sound your horn. If you hit a streetcar, downtowners will beat you with parking meters. At every Tucson intersection there must be a stalled Pinto, a panhandler and a Walgreens — it’s the law. Don’t drive in flooded washes without proper snorkeling equipment. Don’t drive in South Tucson on a Saturday night with a loud, intoxicated passenger who likes to shout and wave at strangers.
Where’s the best place for a youngster to learn how to drive?
a) Mount Lemmon Highway at night.
b) Speedway at rush hour.
c) Runway 3 at Tucson International Airport.
The prize-winning physicists who argue that time cannot stop should take this course. I came out the other end like Keir Dullea in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Somehow I finished the course, knocked points off my record and got a certificate suitable for decoupaging on your dash .
Instead of taking another online traffic course, I would rather _____
a) sit on a tack through my cousin’s cello recital.
b) attend a United Way meeting.
c) obey our traffic laws.
This notorious “Fast & Furious” outlaw chose “c.” Did you know that thing on the front of your vehicle is called a “bumper”?