Posts Tagged ‘traffic’

I just finished my Atheist Xmas shopping, as far as I am willing to let it go, buying Chilean Huaso hats for my nephews. Crazy Uncle ExpatBob has to start the bribes when they are young. As the renovations on the Secret Chilean Volcano Lair are finally complete, and since there is no longer a 15mm daily accumulation of dust (due to the complete and unexplainable absence of wet-saws for tile in the Southern Hemisphere), I can deliver said nice things to the lair for storage until they need to be deployed.

On the way back to the BobMobile’s parking space, I came to an intersection where I must make a left turn. A taxi was coming from the right, and he had the right of way, so I let him through and pulled up to the intersection. Then, someone’s stray dog, dragging its leash on the ground, ran straight into the intersection and dawdled around like a complete idiot. Both myself and the taxi driver started honking to try and scare it out of the road.

Then, this lady comes into the crosswalk from my left side. “Can you pull forward so I can pass?” she asks me.

Now there is no reason why this lady could not have simply walked around my car. It’s a shitty little Suzuki, which is probably shorter front to back than I am tall. So maximum course deviation for this pedestrian is perhaps a single meter. I can’t pull forward. I can’t back up. I can’t remember how to ask, “Are you fucking kidding me?” in Spanish, so instead I point at the retarded dog doing donuts in the intersection, towards which both myself and the taxi driver are directing a considerable racket.

“Seriously? Are you not seeing this?” I ask her.

RetardLady then starts in on me why I should “Respetar los peatones,” and other such nonsense, while she stands IN THE ROAD, BLOCKING TRAFFIC, next to my car. She herself could have been run over. The time she spent, flapping her gums, could have had her across the street and well on her way, but instead she just stood there waiting for me to cross. Instead of paying attention to what she was saying, I fantasized about running over the dog, and then backing over RetardLady. Repeatedly. Spin the tires for good measure, and peel out in a steaming trail of her guts. Feel that wet thud through the chassis as the tires fling RetardDog into the wheel well and whip his flailing corpse into the air, like a pitching machine. Ohhh, yes…

Finally the dog decided to exit the Darwin zone, the taxi passed, and I had the space to turn left. So I did, abandoning RetardLady mid-sentence.

In my rearview, I saw the dog following her down the sidewalk, sticking to her heels as if it was hers.




This afternoon I was rear-ended by a car from the Fiscalizacion de Transportes, driven by one of their guys in full uniform, with 3 of his coworkers as passengers, also in uniform. This is funny because it is the equivalent of being rear-ended by the National Transportation Safety Board. It was probably only a few km/h impact, enough to make noise and stain your underwear but not much else. The BobMobile was unhurt, other than a small tear in the spare tire cover, but their hood was buckled and the little face of their car was punched in a few inches.

PlumberBob, who was with me in the car, thought it was hilarious. “You know who those guys are, right?” he asks me.

These are the same guys who, on the front page of their website, have a form for anonymously denouncing bad drivers, “Informanos los malas practicas en el transito,” (translated: Inform us of bad driving practices.)

“Some luck you have, man,” PlumberBob says.

The whole incident reminded me of the time I was rear-ended by the Chicago Police on the Dan Ryan expressway. Another story for another time.

I pulled over to check the damage, and finding none, checked to make sure that the carload of safety-minded individuals was OK. “I’m fine, how ’bout you?”

“No problem,” they say.

“OK, be more careful, eh. And good luck explaining this to your boss. Drive safe!”


The other day a lady shot out from the left side of an intersection, right in front of us. By the time we saw her coming it was already too late and we ran right into her. Fortunately nobody was injured. Her car was trashed but our truck, while the steering and front frame is bent, suffered little more than cosmetic damage. We drove home.

We did the standard insurance thing, two inspectors come out to survey the damage, information is exchanged, and then you wait to hear from your insurance company. Meanwhile you research the local laws and educate yourself on right-of-way and other sundry items.

…such as the following, which states clearly that when in an unmarked intersection, the right-of-way preference goes to the vehicle on the right, and/or the street with through-way preference.

I was both on the through-way street, *and* the vehicle on the right. So, clearly, I thought, I had the right-of-way and the other lady’s insurance will pay for the damage. Having learned the laws I felt confident when I went in to get the results from my insurance agent.


My insurance company is leaving me to hang. “This all depends on where you are from,” my insurance agent explains to me. Translation: because you are a gringo, you are instantly guilty. Nice. Forget the law, forget that it is much more expensive for them to pay to replace the entire front end of the car WHICH CAUSED THE ACCIDENT than it is to say, “this is the law, your client is clearly guilty, and you should pay for the damage to my client.” Forget that they will lose a customer. Forget that I am a legal resident, forget that I have a local drivers license and a locally registered vehicle and I know what I am doing and know the laws. Nah, that’s all unimportant.

The corporate office’s official excuse: Because the street I was on changes names on the other side of the intersection, I am therefore culpable. Not a note about the fact that it is the secondary throughway through town on which all the bus routes run to avoid traffic on the main road. Nor that there are no street signs to signify the change-of-name. Because the locals are too lazy to post them and also because if they did, someone would steal them (as in here and here). So I shall hang because of mismanaged data on a map.

Fortunately the agent is on my side despite the ruling from the corporate office, so he has arranged tomorrow afternoon to help me get this straightened out. He has written in to appeal the decision in corporate, and he is going with me to Crash Lady’s insurance office to see what we can wrangle out of them. We shall see what happens. I am not hopeful. If they fail to please me I shall put their name up here with a notice to boycott.

Added Aug 25, 2012:
The company in question is RSA. They are reputed to be a quality insurance company (we have multiple policies for vehicle and home coverage). However at this point, I will not renew my policy with them, and instead I shall transfer it to a different company upon its expiration.

Welcome home! I can’t wait to get the F back out of here and get back to Chile where laws are at least more respected than the Kangaroo Subjective Interpretation you get here in Uruguay backwardsland.

Portland, Oregon, summer 2011:

Fearing for my life as a passenger in our rental car I volunteered to drive us through town to wherever we were going. WifeBob, when with WifesBestFriendBob, becomes a member of the incompetent female hivemind. They look alive, they sound alive (they certainly are never silent when plugged in), and they seem to have higher thought function and motor skills, but the latter two items do not actually register if tested.

When she is brain-synced with WifesBestFriendBob it is particularly scary. Both of them, either of them, at the wheel in the same car, is an experience best left to impact dummies. WifesBestFriendBob cannot hold a steady speed nor a steady line, her “new” car is a mural of scratches, dents, and missing parts, and her own parents have nicknamed her “Crash.”

So I grabbed the keys before either of them got close.

We’re driving through downtown Portland, which can be challenging but not particularly dangerous; there are lots of one-way streets which get cut by parks or squares and then come back on the other side, and you have to navigate other one-ways to come back to it again. It’s kind of annoying, which may explain why so many Portlandians ride bicycles. That, or they are just a bunch of dirty earth hippies.

Most people in Portland are way too generous when behind the wheel: a thing I like to take complete advantage of when I am there, as I can drive like a maniac and everyone is scared out of the way. Driving motorcycles and cars in South America has helped me shed all but a vestive of my give-a-shit for staying within the lines, obeying speed limits or traffic lights, etc. unless there is imminent danger. Of course the local worker drones can’t function without direction from the lights and signs, but just like pushing ants around as they wander on their paths, adding chaos to the mix just diverts them temporarily and then they continue on their way to do whatever it is they do. No harm, no foul. Big Brother probably has a record a foot thick on my horribly evil behavior from jaywalking to tearing the tags off of mattresses and pillows.

I had a roommate ask me once how I knew how to wash my shirts if I kept cutting the tags off the back of the neck. Duh? I digress…

We had to turn right at an intersection but the turn lane was for buses only. Apparently it’s too good for cars to use. I have no idea why it is like this; cars could make excellent use of the turn lane and it would avoid unnecessary waste and congestion from them having to circle back. The do-gooders are adding unnecessary CO2 to the atmosphere! You call yourselves Green? For shame! WifesBestFriendBob explained the turn lane to me as we approached it and also explained that Portlandians are too polite to really say or do anything about it if I should decide to be an outlaw.

In flagrant ExpatBobness, I ticked the turn signal on and went into the turn lane. We were waiting at a red light, and there was traffic so yeah, I obeyed Big Brother’s signal.

There was a bum standing on the median panhandling with a sign advertising his worthlessness and asking for help. He shouted to us, “Hey, you can’t turn there. That’s for buses only!”

So much for too-polite-to-say-anything. I have rarely been motivated to get out of my car and kick someone until they cried, but this was one of those situations. A bum, who doesn’t have a job, has no skills of his own, all the time in the world to learn some handicrafts or art, but he sits here on a street corner begging for change. Go get a job, and buy a car, and you can drive it how you damn well please. And then, maybe, once you know what you are doing, you can tell other people how you think they should drive.

The windows were down, so I looked at him straight and said, “I don’t care.”


“I don’t care!”

He didn’t know what to do. Someone in Portland talking back? The sky is falling! After a few moments of utter shock, he replied, “Well then go back to California, you cocksucker!” Nice. Welcome to Portland.

It was then that I realized that the California plates on our rental car were giving us an added benefit.