Monday, April 24, 2006

The 3 (5) things you always see while driving in Georgia

The other day I was having lunch with a few friends and, inevitably, the conversation turned to driving and traffic in Georgia. There is no way to describe Georgian traffic - it defies all logic and sense. I have tried on many occasions to explain it but unless you come here and go for a ride, you just don't get the full effect. I had told my parents countless stories about the Georgian drivers and the crazy traffic, but until they came here and we tooled around town for two weeks, I don't think they fully understood. I remember once a friend of mine was surprised that I drove myself here in Georgia - most people here with the Embassy hire drivers - and she said "you must be very brave" and I replied "brave or crazy, I haven't decided".

So, during this conversation about driving, one of my friends mentions the "Five Things You ALWAYS See While Driving In Georgia" and the other two started laughing. Not having been privy to the previous conversation I enquired about the five things. They started filling me in, but could only remember three of the five. I left them that day, still chuckling about the three things and, damn it, if I didn't see all three on my drive home. And I have seen them every single day since then. In no particular order, here are the three things you will see every time you go for a drive in Georgia:

1. A car pulling (towing) another car with a rope.
2. A car either going the wrong way on the road or going in reverse on the road. Bonus points if the car doing this is towing another car with a rope (oh yes, I have seen this many times).
3. A car with no side view mirrors. This one is the easiest of the three to spot, because every third or fourth car in Georgia has no side view mirrors. It's not like they would use them if they had them anyway.

I was at a party the other night and I was telling someone about the three things. He was laughing with me and we put our heads together and came up with two more.

4. A car, usually a Lada, that will come all the way from the back of the line of traffic waiting for a light to change, who will drive toward incoming traffic (see number 2) to get to the front of the line of traffic so that he can be first when the light changes. And then usually, he goes about 20 mph. Ladas aren't known for their blazing speed.
5. Cars that will stop in the middle of an intersection while making a left turn. Because, even though they had the green light when the started making the left, once they get out in the intersection to go the other way the light is (obviously)red. So they stop. Because now they think that light is for them. It's bizarre really.

I think that the Georgian government should emulate Disney World - there should be signs at the airport that say "If you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, a bad back, etc. We advise you NOT to go on this ride". But if you do, you are guaranteed a hair-raising good time.

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