After the six inches of snow that fell on Friday and Saturday, my journey home from Oxford took me about twice as long as usual.... and that doesn't include digging the car out of the driveway. The M40 was clearly in better condition for driving than it had been 24 hours earlier, but it was still somewhat polar, with the snow reducing traffic sometimes to a single lane and with abandoned cars littering the hard shoulder.
As the weather down there has continued to worsen, it looks like if I hadn't seized that opportunity to drive home on Sunday morning, I'd still be down there now, selling fine fragrance in our Oxford shop.... not that this would have been an entirely bad thing, it was a fun few days I spend doing exactly that last week, and I'd get to spend some more time with the excellent friends who live down there too.
Yes, it was an interesting journey..... but even that three-and-a-half hour slog through the snow was not a bit as stressful as the five minute journey I have just made from my front door to my osteopath.
My appointment was at six, so I escaped from work in time to nip home and change into a pair of jeans. All I had to do was leave myself five minutes or so to wind my way through the back streets of the suburb where we live to my Osteopath's office. I've made this journey at this time of day literally a hundred times and it's never been a problem. Perhaps it was a combination of the time of year and the time of day; perhaps it was lunar eclipse; maybe the winter solstice. Whatever it was, every driver on the road seemed to be behaving like an absolute arsehole.
Like most suburban towns, ours is made up of a load of residential streets that crisscross between the major roads. Also like most suburban towns, drivers impatient to get home and reluctant to sit in queues of traffic at the lights will seek every opportunity to gain a few seconds by weaving their way through the residential streets. Rat-runners are easy to spot: they're the ones driving through an otherwise quiet residential street far faster than anyone else. Well, once you've made the decision to short-cut, something in your brain tells you that you have to push harder to make that short-cut worthwhile; you have to get ahead of those suckers queuing at the lights.
When I pulled out of the Grove this evening, I was confronted by two cars facing off against each other on our street, rat-running in opposite directions. Neither wanted to give way. I was sat out of their way, but didn't have the time to get caught up in their games. I backed down the Grove to leave them room, and after staring at each other for a full thirty seconds, one of them blinked, pulled out of the way, and allowed the alpha rat-runner to speed of down the road. After both had moved on, I set off for my appointment. I crossed the main road and headed towards my osteopath's office - not rat-running, but taking the most direct route from my street to the residential street where the clinic is based. At one point, where the road was lined on both sides by parked cars, I gave way to a car coming in the other direction.... like you do. He didn't thank me.... and you aren't obliged to, I suppose. But then another car pushed down too, followed by another ten. None thanked me, all elbowed their way past me on their way from one main road to another, determined to make time by cutting out the traffic lights. Some had to make a real effort to make sure I didn't have time to pull out before they got there. When I finally got away, a few streets later, the same thing happened again. Gah!
The whole journey only took five minutes, but by the time I reached my destination, I was furious at the basic lack of manners: I'm more important than you, so you can damn well wait.
Well, fuck you too.
Season of goodwill, my arse.
5 hours ago