I consider myself to be a very good driver (don’t we all?), but I’ll be the first to admit that if there’s one virtue I have not been blessed with, it’s patience. Especially after 16:00 on the N1 when stuck in the fast lane behind someone with a foreign province number plate (you know who you are, Mr FS and Ms NW) who insists on driving at least 20km/h slower than the speed limit allows. My usual response is to either drive up close enough so that the person becomes nervous and gets out of my way (as they should, it is “keep left, pass right” after all) or shoot past them and, with tires squealing and blood pressure rising, dart into the space in front of them, from where they will only see a red dot fading into the distance as I take out my frustration on my long-suffering gas pedal.
By now you probably think I’m a menace on the road and should have my driver’s license revoked, doomed to spend the rest of my commuting life as part of a pool club (“You may take our lives, but you’ll never take our freedom!”) or *shudder* make use of public transportation. The fact is, I’m not the only Gauteng driver who drives like this, nor am I the worst (at least I don’t weave between lanes anymore).
Which is why I found myself completely bewildered by the drivers in the Cape Peninsula area (although not the CA number plates, some of those people drive like maniacs!). Not only do they actually keep to the speed limit, but they make way for faster-moving traffic on the highway. And not just in the fast lane! To my utter astonishment, someone moved out of my way from the middle lane into the slow lane (and I was in a rental car, so no telltale GP plate). That would never, ever, happen on the highway between Pretoria and Johannesburg. In the Cape, cars overtake each other without flashing lights, hooting or a stream of profanity flying out the window as they scream past. Amazing.
And then the strangest thing happened. I found myself relaxing while driving. I suddenly noticed that there were no billboards or office buildings lining the highway, but rather a mountain to my right and green woodlands on the left. I could see the ocean sparkling in the distance. Before I knew it I had slowed down to even less than the speed limit and someone else was patiently waiting for me to make way so he could overtake. Will wonders never cease?
Perhaps the reason no one is rushed in the Cape is because of their beautiful surroundings. I know I wouldn’t be in a hurry to go sit in an office cubicle if I were driving through forests and past beaches on my way to work every day. The Cape Peninsula is by far one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on this earth, and its residents must feel like they are permanently on holiday. I hope they appreciate just how lucky they are.
So now I’m back home and very little has changed. I tried out my newfound calmness on Monday morning, only to be hooted at by someone else trying to come past me – and was late for work to boot. I guess when in Rome… Although I now have more tolerance for slow drivers with C-plates: they’re probably busy appreciating the scenery in their mind’s eye.
Have you noticed the difference in how people drive depending on where they’re from? What do you think the reason for this may be?