I haven’t written for a few days. My arse is sore from all the kicks I’ve been giving it so sitting down has been a challenge. It’s better today because I’ve left my self-flagellating ways behind for the time being. Of course, I’m speaking figuratively, but it’s a good attitude for me these days. A really good one. I’m gradually coming around to a better frame of mind and along with arse kicking, have kicked some old habits to the curb, or at least am trying to create a new habit of kicking those old habits out. I must be patient but diligent, which makes me think of a story.
Anyone who has ever visited Devon knows about its roads. They are narrow, twisty, with loads of ups and downs. Some single-track roads as they are called are not suitable for vehicles other than cars and tractors. The best single-tracks have lots of lay-bys, extended widths to allow passing one at a time, while others have few and can require some savvy maneuvering by drivers. Locals tend to be good at things like backing up on the fly and looking ahead. They also seem to be able to squeeze into spots I barely notice.
One thing that’s a huge waste of time if living in this beautiful place is a preciousness about your vehicle. No car can go unscratched for long. Most seem to look just fine to me but my ‘up close’ vision ain’t what it used to be. Still, it’s quite naïve to think when you pull over to let a Tesco delivery truck go by on a road that’s more of a laneway and about as wide as a postage stamp that you’ll avoid a scratch as you drive away from the ages old rose bush branch that’s resting on your review mirror. But hey, it’s Devon.
After all my time here, despite loads of sheep and cattle roaming in pastures on the other side of the hedgerows, I’ve had only one experience of an animal jumping out in front of me. Of course, there’s a bit of road kill, but no more than anywhere else. It’s amazing really. It’s likely due more to speed than anything. The roads simply do not allow for it. And most of us get that. We also behave courteously. It’s what’s done. When the “wave” doesn’t come, you figure the person behind the wheel is a tourist. (Everyone waves, nods, or flashes lights as a thank-you to the person who has pulled over to let them by.) I’m still learning about all kinds of things needless to say, but have learned to relax, slow down, and expect the unexpected like tourists and their driving skills or lack thereof. Which is the point of this story.
Yesterday, the sun shone and the temps were super high. It was a beach day, for sure. I knew the hot spots would be jammed, so headed to a place “off the beaten”. The way there is along one of those really narrow single-track roads more suited to a horse without a buggy. There are few spots to pull in. The road winds its way up, then down with absolutely no visibility on the corners. Trust me, in some places there is barely room to squeeze by a hiker should you come upon one. Anyhoo, I know this road fairly well and have somewhat memorized lay-bys and lane ways should I need to reverse into one. About halfway to my destination, as I rounded a bend, I met a mid-sized black Ford sedan.
Inside the car appeared to be a family with a youngish fellow behind the wheel. I signalled that I’d back up and did so, squeezing over and into the hedgerow’s thicket as tightly as I could. He had room to inch pass, but clearly could not judge that for himself. Either he did not want to run the risk of a scratch, or he was unable to gauge the distance accurately. He started to reverse.
As mentioned, I know this road so knew he had a long way to go before he’d find a spot to pull over. If another vehicle came along, well, heaven forbid. I could do nothing but sit and watch patiently.
Now, the usual habit is to chase down the car that’s reversing, in other words, you drive toward the car that’s backing up. I sat still. In due course, there was a full-sized Range Rover behind me and another little car like mine. All we could do was wait and watch.
At one point, I laughed out loud wondering if he’d end up going back into the village from which he’d come. I kind of thought the Range Rover super spooked him. If he couldn’t get by me, how the hell was he going to get by it?
Finally, he reached the bottom of the incline where the road disappears completely into a sharp left turn. There is a laneway there and I figured he’d back into it. The line behind me, now up to five plus me, was getting anxious to move. But to my amazement, he did not pull over. Where the hell was he going, I wondered? I needed to intervene. I struck off, rushing a smidgen. I wanted to get his attention and wave him into the laneway. I hoped the Range Rover would stay put, or at least stay back far enough to let me reverse up. Happily, he did.
I caught up to the Ford quickly enough and honked making a time out gesture with my hands. The woman in the passenger seat touched the man’s arm and pointed toward me. I was halfway into the turn by this point. Range Rover figured what I was doing and I saw him back up a tad. It was at that point Ford man noticed the space behind me. I could actually see his shoulders relax. Poor guy!
I smiled, motioned with my thumb over my shoulder then gave the thumbs up sign and smiled. He smiled back with a wave and then the thumbs up to show he knew what I wanted him to do. Whew. What an event!
Now, stuff like that is rather common here, but not as much as you might imagine. Most issues are caused by us tourists. The worst situations occur when you’ve a line of traffic and a couple of big trucks, but I’ll not bore you further. Hehe. Thing is, nobody seems too stressed by it. You simply plan accordingly and use lots of patience.
So that’s my wish. That we all find some patience and diligently work to keep it. Becoming angry, or wanting to change what is happening is a form of resistance, isn’t it? In that case, we are making matters worse. If instead, we take a deep breath and maybe find the humour in a situation that otherwise is making us mad, we might actually laugh out loud and realize we’ve taken ourselves way too seriously.
P.S. Yes, folks, that is a road in the picture. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. 🙂