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Why I Always Leave 10 Minutes Early Every Where I Go.

Y’all – I wrote a really funny blog entry yesterday about something really stupid I did and NO ONE commented and I spent all day stressing that maybe I had crossed that line where my crazy antics were just sad and pitiful and not funny anymore. Maybe that “funny insane” thing I did was just “really insane” and no one thought it was funny but really just thought I needed serious professional help and they just weren’t brave enough to tell me. BUT THE DAMN ENTRY IS STILL IN DRAFT.

My routine is to blog in the morning before work most days. If you don’t see one by 9am CST? Feel free to email me and say, “Zoot! Check your draft folder!” I may publish it tomorrow, because today I have something else I want to talk about. I want to give you a deeper understand of my driving anxieties because someone honked at me yesterday for “not going” when it was “clear” and I almost died from it.

I have no desire – NONE – to ever skydive. NONE. NEVER. NOPE. And while I’ve encountered some people who have loved it and done it, no one really tries to insist that I do it. People in general accept that fear because you can live your life JUST FINE without ever sky diving. A lot of people would be fine living their lives without sky diving, and no one ever tries to force them to do it. Most people have some sort of understanding of that fear.

I think about that a lot. About how sky diving is an acceptable and relatable fear. I think maybe because we’ve all probably been on a tall building, or on a roller coaster, and experienced that momentary terror so we know that fear and we all completely understand in some capacity how that fear could be too much to over come for such an extreme activity.

But I must tell you – and you must believe me – there are moments where my anxiety over driving is as strong as my fear of jumping out of a plane. Driving is the thing that causes me the MOST anxiety in my life. THE MOST. It used to be “driving” and “social situations” but I’ve become much better at social situations over time so that’s more of a solid second place now. But I’ve been driving non-stop for 24 years and my anxieties have only gotten WORSE over time. WORSE. This is why I would never be more comfortable riding my bike on a road over time, if 24 years of driving didn’t ease my anxieties? No amount of miles on my bike is going to either. Of course, I’ve heard how amazing CBD products can be for helping anxiety and I’ve been told I have to try them out, although I’m not sure anything can really help me. However, if you look here, you can see that CBD can even be effective in the fight against cancer, so maybe it is that amazing after all.

Imagine, for a moment, if you had to face the level of fear you would face jumping out of a plane, every time you got in your car. Now imagine if just a small change in your route would remove that fear, WOULDN’T YOU DO IT?

And this, my friends, is why I avoid left turns and high-traffic merges. And I need you to know that so that you will STOP HONKING AT ME, DAMMIT.

I know my town fairly well. I know where all of the lights are that are “left turn only on green arrow” on my side of town. I know how bad traffic is in most areas so I know how to avoid bad left turns at all costs. But this job I have now requires I drive sometimes in parts I’m unfamiliar so sometimes I end up at a left turn without an arrow and with traffic and this is MY NIGHTMARE, of course this could be avoided if I used a service like Comfort Drive who has a safer driver take people from place to place. But when I’m driving myself to work, in that moment I’m feeling the fear you feel if you’re about to jump out of a plane. I’m sweating, I’m nauseated, and I’m terrified. And you can bet I’m going to wait until I’m 100% certain it’s “clear” to turn and I do NOT trust oncoming traffic to be driving at the proper speed so I’m certain you’re going to think it’s clear before I will and IF YOU HONK AT ME all hell is going to break loose in my head and there’s a really good chance I’ll make a bad decision fueled by anxiety and terror and I’ll get in a wreck, then me and you will probably end up having to mandatorily attend traffic schools Alameda County or somewhere local to us.

Luckily, I know my town well enough that I can avoid this most of the time. And even if I’m coming up on a turn I’m supposed to take if it looks like a bad one I’ll just keep going and find a different route. I rarely find myself in this situation. I ended up over the mountain the other day just avoiding a bad left hand turn, that’s usually what I do when I’m coming up on one.

BUT – the only entrance into my office is a turn with a small window of “yield on green” instead of “turn on arrow”. It DOES HAVE an arrow or I would simply go out of the way to enter from the back entrance through the shopping center. When I have to turn there, I always hope traffic is just bad enough that I can wait for the arrow. BUT – sometimes people don’t like me doing that and they will honk and PLEASE STOP HONKING AT ME WHEN I AM TERRIFIED.

Yes. You might be thinking that maybe I’m looking at my phone and didn’t realize it was clear. And if it’s a green light where there’s no choice to be made, and it’s obvious I’m not paying attention, feel free to honk. But if there’s a chance the person in front of you is having a full-blown panic attack and being OVERLY cautious, maybe just give him/her some breathing room, okay? Because if you honk I will panic EVEN HARDER and I’ve been known to turn when it was probably not safe just because I’m now freaking out about the angry person behind me. I AM PAYING ATTENTION, I promise. I’m just having a come apart and really am waiting for an arrow to tell me it’s safe to go so I don’t have to trust the oncoming traffic not to be speeding.

Someone once told me that they HATE those kind of lights that I love. The ones that ONLY let you turn on the green arrow. “Let me make the decision! I hate sitting there waiting when there’s no traffic!” But y’all? That doesn’t bother me AT ALL. As a matter of fact, I’ll take 10 minutes waiting at an intersection with no traffic over 5 seconds of trying to decide when to turn in traffic. The route I take home from work to avoid high-speed merges or construction areas or risky left turns involves about 20 more lights than the other way I could take but I don’t mind sitting at lights! There’s no stress to me sitting at a light. I’m just waiting for someone else to tell me when to go and I much prefer that over high speed merges in rush-hour traffic on the controlled access highway. I don’t trust the people merging not to kill me and I don’t trust the people I’m merging into not to be assholes so I avoid controlled access at rush hour. I’ll use those highways on my way to work when it’s 6:30am and no traffic, but on my way home? Give me the route with the 20 lights instead.

You ever see that person STOPPED in a merge lane? That person represents an example of me jumping out of a plane. That person is LIVING my fear and I avoid that situation at all costs. It’s never happened to me (thank god) but since I’m so worried the roads are full of people who would rather get in a wreck than let me merge, I avoid those merge lanes in traffic like you might avoid drinking water in an underdeveloped country. You worry there might be something in the water that might kill you? I worry the merge will kill me so I just avoid it.

But sometimes you can’t. When you’re traveling long distances you have to get on and off the interstate. Donnie drives through the high traffic areas on our trips and I handle the long stretches of highways between cities, but sometimes he’s not with us and I have to merge and it TERRIFIES ME. For that 5 seconds I feel like I’m having a heart attack. THE FEAR IS REAL.

I guess I’ve just discovered lately that – unlike people who fear sky-diving – I’m in the minority with my driving fears. No one really gets it. But that’s fine because I don’t get you sitting out in an intersection on a 6-lane highway waiting for it to “be clear” to turn left when it is NEVER GOING TO BE CLEAR. I park in the VERY back of the Target parking lot so I can pull-through and not have to back out when I leave. I do NOT understand people who park close but then have to back out to leave. A parking lot with no pull-through options because of those slanted spots? KILLS ME. I still find a way to park far away in an empty area so when I go to leave I have plenty of lines of sights for backing out. Donnie doesn’t pull through, even if the spot he chooses has no one in front of him. I’m like, “Why don’t you pull through?” He doesn’t have the anxiety about backing out in a busy parking lot that I do, AND – there’s no line in front of him telling him when to stop. So he doesn’t like that. I THINK THAT IS INSANE.

I work above a CVS and I see people all the time park out my window where the do what Donnie does. They pull in to park and then don’t pull through even though there’s no one in that spot and every time I watch it like I’m watching a suspense thriller. I MUST SEE WHO GETS OUT OF THE CAR. What kind of person makes a decision like that? I MUST KNOW.

Do you know who does? EVERYONE BUT ME. Just like the people who like “left turn yield on green” lights. Everyone likes those but me. One changed in town recently and I was SOOOOOOO EXCITED and everyone else was SOOOOOOO PISSED OFF.

So, since I’m the minority? I figured it was my duty to explain to you how I think and feel so that maybe you can pause a little before honking. If there’s no way the person in front of you is stressing over deciding when to go? Then honk. But if there’s a chance they’re just suffering from anxiety trying to decide when to go? JUST WAIT. Trust me. They’ll thank you for it.

28 thoughts on “Why I Always Leave 10 Minutes Early Every Where I Go.”

  1. I always look for a pull through slot. I hate backing into a slot and try to avoid backing out of one. So I would rather walk from the back of the car park. I also think that the people who park at the back are more careful (anxious) about parking so less chance of getting dinged.

  2. Hmm. Guilty. Unfortunately most of the no-left-on green-even-when-clear folks, unlike you, ARE on their phones or texting! So try real hard to calm your panic (and give us honkers a break) since you are in the minority! I don’t honk until about 5 seconds have passed though. Also, I’m not in Huntsville so no worries from me!

    I always either back in or drive through in parking. Much safer since I have a teensy Fiat and before that a Mini Cooper! Even though my cars are always chili red, people in big trucks and vans don’t seem to see them.

  3. Oh Kim!!! My heart breaks for you; and for anyone that I’ve ever honked at. And I honk; ALOT. You see, I’m a Triple-A driver (angry aggressive a$$hole)… I’m nice as pie in person, but put me behind the wheel and Mr Hyde come out. I love to speed, merge, and yes… prefer the left yield on green lights. That all being said, I have also suffered with anxiety and full blown panic attacks in my past so I can relate and sympathize over the psychological and physiological effects they have (my anxieties are obviously different). Thank you for sharing this… I know my hand will pause now over my honk going forward.

  4. My husband would honk at you. I would not. I always try to say to him (when he gets angry at someone not turning, or driving too slowly), “now imagine that your father is driving that car – would you be as angry at him as you are at this anonymous person?”

    I certainly understand your fear of sky diving (I’ve always said someone would have to push me out), but I’m so sorry that you have the same fear while driving. Have you tried talking to a therapist? I think you’re really brave for doing something that scares you so much EVERY DAY. I hope you figure something out!

    P.S. Were you able to teach E. how to drive?

  5. I completely understand your driving anxiety! I get honked at a lot too and it totally ruins my day. I am also cautious about turning right on red and people hate that. I consider turning right on red to be optional and if I can’t see oncoming traffic well and both lanes aren’t clear, I wait for the green. The things that give me full on panic attacks are parallel parking and backing out of tight spaces with people watching. My heart will beat out of my chest and I’ll be drenched and sweat and shaking. I always pull through when possible and when there are no pull through spots I usually have to make two attempts to decently park in a regular spot.
    Everyone should drive within their own comfort zone! And when you have zero spatial skills that means being super cautious and apparently enraging everybody. I live in northern VA where traffic is as bad or worse than LA and people are not kind behind the wheel.

  6. I did NOT teach E how to drive! I tried once and couldn’t do it. We paid for him to go to Driver’s school and then he drove with Donnie or his Dad when he would visit him in Georgia. His Nana would also let him drive on trips down to see his Dad. I was mentally incapable of doing it. 🙂 I let him drive me around fine now though! I just nag him about speeding 🙂

  7. Check your state laws! Pulling through a parking space is illegal in some states – I was taught it was illegal here in VA though I’m not sure if it really is – though I know it is dangerous as I have been PULLING IN to a space and a woman tried pulling through and almost hit me.
    I think we are opposite style drivers – I love driving and nothing about driving gives me anxiety – though I do drive a large, high sitting SUV so I can usually see pretty well at turns, etc. – thank you for the insight to what other drivers may be feeling, it has never occurred to me that might be what’s happening in the car in front of me, I always think it’s failure to pay attention.

  8. The zero spatial skills thing! And I drive a big van which makes it SO MUCH WORSE. I’ve never parallel parked in my life. Also? The zero spatial skills thing is why I run into walls a lot 🙂

  9. Ha! I should probably have also clarified I pull through in the VERY back b/c I need to make sure no one wants to park behind me so I can open the back of my van to put groceries in! So hopefully it’s not illegal because it’s NEVER dangerous when I did it. E snapchatted my parking spot choice over Christmas b/c it was so hilarious. He said, “Um. Is this where you’re parking? There are like 100 spaces open – even for pulling through – between here and the front door.” 🙂

  10. If a parking lot is very crowded, I will always go to the back and find and easy space, to save myself time and stress. (I get really annoyed when my husband circles five times looking for a closer spot. Dude, we could have been in and out of the store twice already!) I’ve also had a couple of whoopsies while backing, so I try to avoid it where possible. I don’t have as much angst about left-hand turns as you do, but it’s still there – and I don’t like driving at night either. But I finally learned something relevant: it’s because I have horrible depth perception! As in, the eye doctor re-calibrated the machine in the middle of my eye exam because he thought something was wrong with it. Nope, turns out my depth perception is just that bad. Not much to be done about it, but the awareness helps. Also, now I have an excuse to explain why I get so nervous driving at night and crossing traffic!!

  11. This sounds like you are describing my driving fears! I hate merging, backing up and turning left! I tell my passengers they need to use the bathroom in rural areas-I don’t get off the Interstate in cities–because then I have to merge back on! I also love a pull-through!

  12. Haha yes I am constantly bashing myself on door frames. I also blame poor spatial skills on my absolute inability to follow dance steps – an aerobics class is my worst nightmare. Do you get car sick or sea sick? I do not, even when every other person on the boat is green. My theory is that having no spatial skills means I am never oriented so I don’t get disoriented. Please confirm my crackpot theories! Otherwise I’m just a bad dancer who could live on a boat.

  13. Oops…I’m going to be that a-hole who is honking at you to go. I’m very comfortable driving and feel completely in control, therefore I tend to be a bit aggressive when I drive. Also, living in Chicago for 7 years didn’t help lessen my boldness. Now I live in MA where the drivers are called Masshole drivers…so I apologize in advance for my honking. I will try to keep your struggle in my head when I am sitting behind someone who isn’t turning as fast as I would like them to.

  14. It’s funny because I always park in the far far away spots (super size SUV) so that others can park easily and see when getting in and out – I know my car’s size makes it hard for people so I park super far away too and I still back out every time! Habits!

  15. I COMPLETELY understand! I’ll be 28 next month and I still don’t have my driver’s license. (Fortunately I live in DC, so I can get around easily here, but this was much more difficult when I lived in North Carolina, haha.) In NC you can take Driver’s Ed at 14-and-a-half, which is…terrifying. I put it off until I was 17, got my permit, and then promptly got into an accident while driving my parents home from a bar when they were drunk. (CLASSY!) I was trying to back out of a space in a small parking lot, and a car pulled up and waited to take my spot. It was nighttime, so their headlights were on, and it felt like those headlights were PERSONAL. Like they were doing the light-based equivalent of honking at me impatiently. (Again, it was nighttime, they were literally just sitting there. But it felt like a thing.) I freaked out, tried to turn out of the spot but hadn’t backed out far enough yet, and then ended up driving straight into a parked car. I’ve driven maybe four times since that occurrence in 2005, the last time being in 2011. I still keep renewing my permit in the event of some sort of dire emergency (in which case everyone would be infinitely better off calling 911 than asking me to drive), but it’s mostly just so I don’t have to take the written test again, haha.

    BUT, all that said, I have access to a car for the next month and I’m going to try to practice driving! I suspect my fiancé will regret offering to help once he sees how VERY ANXIOUS I will become, but meh, I’ll try. Anyway, this is a long comment to say I FEEL YA, SISTER.

  16. I have driving anxiety too. I pull through if I can when I park. I hate backing up. Sometimes I have to take the parkway going south from i565. I always find I’m holding my breath through those merges! I’ve successfully parallel parked once, in FL, when a good friend calmly and non-judgementally talked me through it, but I’m not sure I could do it again without the instructions. I also prefer green arrows for left turns (or right turns). I find driving very stressful and like it when I travel to cities for work where I can take a metro or walk instead! I’m trying to figure out if I can manage without a car on my next work trip. It will be inconvenient, but more relaxing!

  17. Oh, lord — how do I love Kim? Let me count the ways. 😀

    I hate backing up and let me tell you, a rearview camera has been lifechanging.
    I am okay with left turns at lights (arrow or not), but I hate turning left on a busy road with no lights. I will often turn right, then work my way back around. So, I feel you on the left turns.
    Overall, I LOVE driving, even while traveling. But can we talk bridges and overpasses? In the past 3 years, this has started to become an anxiety for me and I don’t know why. A bridge over a river or creek…. a road near a pond (which we have sooooo many of here in Kansas City) . UGHHHHHH.

  18. Sarah @ TM2TS – 4806-4828 NW Fielding Pl, Topeka, KS 66618, USA – Just random thoughts and feelings of one who thinks too much! You see there's more to someone than just what you see on the outside. Inside, they could be hiding a world of pain and anger. On the outside, they could be sweet and act innocent, when inside, their soul is dark and scary. On the outside they seem standoffish and stuck-up, when the truth is that they're actually very shy. That last one? That's totally me. How I am online is how I am in real life, but only after I really get to know you. I'm open and honest, but if I'm just meeting you, I'm quiet. If I'm uncomfortable, I laugh at everything, even things that aren't supposed to be laughed at. Some people don't understand, and it leads to a lot of mixed signals. But, that's life!
    Sarah @ TM2TS says:

    I’m a shaky quaky mess when I drive, but I tend to be a bit more aggressive because of it. I hate the yield on green. I’m stuck with those no matter which way I go to work, so I have to deal with them, but I get excited when I pull into that lane and the light is red. That means I’ll get an arrow. Or there’s a crapton of cars coming the other direction. I won’t even pull past the line.

    Parking, though? That’s my jam. I’m actually pretty good at it, and it’s like slicing through softened butter for me.

    Backing into spaces though? Nope. Not going to happen. No way, no how. I can back out, easy as pie. Backing INTO a spot? Yeah, no way in hell, 😆

  19. I never pull through! Because it never fails — some idiot will pull all the way up to my bumper and then I can’t open the back of my car to load my groceries or whatever! How many times does that happen to you?

  20. I hate left hand turns, right turns on red, backing up period, and I have never parallel parked in my life. Driving stresses me out.

  21. Well, a few times, but I park in the VERY BACK so there are always plenty of better parking places closer so most people avoid it 🙂 THANK GOODNESS. I have had to put the groceries in the front seat before though 🙂

  22. I empathize. I do what you do reduced by about 50%. I will wait to turn left. Honk if you like, but hey person in the car behind me, you are not me. You will not die if you wait for me to turn, but I might die if I go because you want me to.

  23. I always like a pull through spot unless I am going to be loading things into the back of the car. Then you can’t do the pull through! So maybe some of the people you witness would like to pull through but need trunk access for their purchases.

    I recently turned (left, with the sun in my eyes) onto a two-way street that is divided by a concrete barrier. Except I misjudged the turn and turned too soon so I was going the WRONG WAY down the street. I silently thanked every single person I passed that did not honk at me even though I was clearly doing something very wrong. One guy honked and yelled “What are you doing!!” which is hilarious because why would anyone do that on purpose? Are you kidding me! Clearly I made a mistake and am just trying not to die, but thank you for your words of encouragement, sir!

  24. So, unless you pull out in front of me such that I almost hit you or you are coming over into my lane almost hitting me, I try not to honk my horn…..and I get fussed at about it from “someone”. (“Someone” is not nearly as patient as I.) I also understand that there could be extenuating circumstances or valid reasons for your more cautious driving habits and I try to sympathize.

  25. ultrachelsea – Hi, my name is Chelsea! I'm a 20 something runner girl from Alabama that loves getting lost in the woods, cooking and eating good food, and seeing just how far I can go. This is my blog about fitness, health, and life in general. If you'd like to read more about my adventures, stick around!
    Chelsea Schiavone says:

    See, I don’t find any of this odd at all. Because I have a very similar reaction… not to driving (although I DO HATE IT), but for talking on the phone. I will literally break out in a sweat if I have to make a phone call or if my phone rings unexpectedly. I HATE IT. I put calling people off to the last possible second, I write down a script for myself beacuse I always inevitably lose the ability to use my brain, the list goes on. I FEEL YOU. Also please never call me.

  26. I visited a friend in Chicago once, and she was a driving maniac. She switched lanes constantly and honked at every other car, even when the cars could literally do nothing because they were stuck in the same traffic jam. I was shocked.

    I told her that I felt personally offended if other drivers honked at me, and that I’d NEVER be able to handle driving the way she did.

    My blood pressure seriously goes up if I’m honked at, especially if I haven’t done anything wrong.

    Maybe it’s a southern thing? LOL.

    PS: I think about you often when I make left turns. No, I can’t relate, but I think about it. Hey, I have an irrational fear of giraffes. I’m not judging anyone’s fears!

  27. I totally stress about left turns. I’ve gotten better about it some because I moved a little out in the country and there are less lights at all so I could end up in another town in some cases before I get to a turn light. But, I totally get where you are coming from about the left turns. It’s such a huge a relief when I know I have right turns.

    Now, as for the pulling through parking spaces. I don’t do that near as often and usually only if I see that someone else has done it. It gives me a little palpitation to do it too, like I’m living on edge. It always feels like I’m breaking the rules. Like there’s a law that says you have to stop where the line is and pulling over that line is like running a stop sign or something. Of course, I do then have a little anxiety when backing out. But, driving in general is a dangerous activity and we should be careful about that kind of power.

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