Driving Mississippians Crazy

I must admit, when I’m driving in New Orleans and see a vehicle with a Mississippi license plate, I don’t ready myself for a display of driving excellence. Granted, New Orleans is screwy enough to navigate even by the locals, who (in general) drive horribly on their own without tourists complicating the mix. But I’ve learned how to acclimate myself to the New Orleanian driving predilections: the hatred of turn signals, the running of red lights, the braking for potholes…etc I’ve learned to account for all these predictable patterns. But an out of towner is an unknown quantity. Especially when they’re unfamiliar with the conditions in Crescent City… who knows what they might try to do?

So the other day I was cruising the Central Biz District, with my Ramones turned up loud on the stereo. Slowing to a stop, I noticed a rusted old blue van chock full of Mississippians in front of me. I swear, it looked packed to the gills; like some impoverished township had used it for a makeshift tour bus. Oh great, I thought. Better give this one a wide berth.

So the streetlight clicked to green and the van just sat there. Didn’t budge. The brakelights were bright red, like the driver was insisting on sitting there for a while, and this continued for several more long seconds. Normally I’m patient to excess, and will wait a good while for tourists to figure things out. I probably use my horn maybe twice a year in these situations. (Yeah, I’m a regular ambassador for the city that way.)

But that day I was in a hurry, and my adrenaline was up from the car’s stereo. So I flattened the horn– I mean I slammed down on it for all its worth. Just blaring, loud and proud. No chirpy little roadrunner “Beeps” from my Buick, either. The boys in Detroit (if nothing else) still make full, rich sounding American honkers, and mine was thundering.

To my shock, the Mississippian magic bus STILL DIDN’T MOVE an inch. The brake light didn’t even relent. So now I feel my pride is at stake here, and I’m emboldened by the line of cars waiting behind me. I got a responsiblity to them too, I think. So I supplement the horn’s continuing blare (now about 15 seconds long) by simultaneously revving the Buick’s engine and motioning the international sign for frustration.

Then I start yelling insults ending with phrases like “you illiterate inbred mouthbreathers!!!” AND STILL no movement. “WTF is you’re problem!! Are you blind!!” I yell in exasperation.

Then an emergency vehicle I hadn’t noticed crossed the intersection, lights flashing– probably racing to save someone’s life. And after it passed, the van of Mississippians carefully accelerated away.

Ew. I must say I felt low that day. Real low. David Bowie Low.

3 Comments so far

  1. jfbiii (unregistered) on February 2nd, 2005 @ 3:40 pm

    Being from New Orleans and currently living in Mississippi, I cannot truthfully say that Mississippi has anything going for it except that the number of infuriating drivers here is much smaller than what one encounters in New Orleans. Beyond that disparity, there is little difference in DWI (Driving While Ignorant) encounters based solely on geography.

  2. Chris Martel (unregistered) on February 3rd, 2005 @ 8:32 am

    Obviously these Mississippians weren’t aware that we don’t yield to ambulances in New Orleans. Working in the medical district, I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen ambulances stuck in traffic, lights flashing, sirens blaring, and NOBODY making even a shred of effort to get out of the way. It’s amazing.

  3. tomboyms (unregistered) on February 4th, 2005 @ 3:49 pm

    Heh. I drove from Hattiesburg, MS to Grenada, MS to Starkville, MS (and back to H’burg) one day last week. What an idiot driver infested day that was!

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