2022 Grateful 51: Here’s to the van drivers

The whole morning traffic thing has largely passed me by in recent years. But these days, having to time my run to the village for the paper so that I don’t get caught up in school traffic has me mithered. I’m sure there’s a formula out there somewhere.

My village in Ireland is a big one, so I have more than a few options. I usually pick the one that has the easiest access and parking in the back; I like to minimise the number of times I have to depend on the goodwill of others to let me out into the stream of traffic.

I’m a considerate driver. For the most part. I let people out ahead of me. I stop and let them parallel park. I’m all for niceness but I have one weakness. If you sail up the bus lane or a right-turn lane past a line of stalled cars and then want to cut in just at the lights to go straight – that’s another story. Oh, I’ll let you in alright but I’ll have to talk myself into it and remind myself that the loving-my-neighbour part of being a Christian extends to idiots like you, too.

When I’m trying to edge into traffic, I find myself sizing up the drivers of oncoming cars to see if they look like they’re considerate drivers, too. I try to make eye contact but you’d be surprised at how focused drivers become when they don’t want to let anyone get one car ahead of them.

My limited conscious experience of this – twelve days of paper runs – points to women my age being the least likely to give way, followed by men in their 70s, followed by everyone under the age of 40. Drivers of any age or sex in a van or truck are the most likely to stop and let me in.

Are we really so desperate to get to where we’re going that we cut people off and not let them get ahead of us? Would one car really make a difference to our journey?  The mind boggles.

I get that a driver might be preoccupied and not really taking in what’s going on around them and may not see my nose edging into the traffic but when it’s obvious that I’m being studiously ignored, it rankles.

Right, missus. You keep on looking straight ahead then. Alright. Keep that focus.

Seriously? You’re in that much of a hurry that you couldn’t just ease off the accelerator for two seconds!

Ah cmon, you’ve seen the ten cars ahead of you sail by me – have mercy.’

I start channelling my inner Italian before degenerating into expletives until a nice person in a van or a truck stops and gives me a cheery wave and a smile and all is right again with my world. Why them, I wondered?

ProDrivers sum it up nicely – they’re more likely to be professional drivers. They know better than to get riled. They understand that the only vehicle they’re driving is the one they’re sitting in.

When fourteen cars sailed by me this morning, I was grateful to spot a van in the distance. He didn’t disappoint. He stopped to let me out.


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