Driving Ms. Linda


A great window in a Provence village.

Driving Ms. Linda

I’m no Miss Daisy, as in the great movie, but I get driven around alot by Maurice. Now, don’t get me wrong, Maurice is a good driver and, more than that, he is a truly wonderful, sweet man but when he is driving he becomes a different person. Naturally, there is road rage in the States and I have seen some cases of it in Paris. I am just surprised to see it in mild, sweet Maurice. It can be with people pulling in front of him, cutting him off, or inconsiderate parking on a small street in one of the villages in Provence where only one car can get by at a time. These are occasions where I have learned my small but useful collection of French curse words.
Once in Paris as we were making our way around a round-about, I got a little nervous. I don’t understand the system in France very well or who has the right of way on these things. In a small village, it isn’t too stressful, but in Paris with the heavy traffic and cars pouring into round-abouts, the whole formula changes. I expressed some of this to Maurice and how it always looked like someone was going to run into us. Cars pull into the round-about and then maneuver their way over to the left, circling around until the exit they want comes up and they ease their way over to the right to get off. He explained how the car already in the round-about had the right of way and that in Paris everyone knows the rules and it is very quite efficient. Right then, at that very moment, a car ran into ours. Luckily, it was just a mild fender bender but, really, what incredible timing. I think these traffic circles can be a good way to control the traffic but, you know, you just can’t beat a traffic light.
When we are making a road trip somewhere, Maurice is usually the driver and I used to be the navigator but after being yelled at because I couldn’t find the next city and therefore the correct exit on a round-about, I now tell Maurice to pull over and look at the map himself. The man becomes Satan. I look over at him and am amazed that this is the same man whose company I usually enjoy so much, the man who can be so fun. I guess the French maps are confusing to me. The secret seems to be that you have to know the towns and cities coming up in the direction of the point of arrival. The highway numbers aren’t that important. Sometimes they are included on top of signs listing cities coming up, but not always. After desperately trying to read a map looking for a city so we would know which exit to take with Maurice’s yelling at me, insulting my (quite wonderful) intelligence as we circled around the round-about over and over again, I then vowed to never give him directions again. Of course, this isn’t just a French/American thing. I’ve heard many stories of couples of every nationality arguing in the same way.

One thought to “Driving Ms. Linda”

  1. Here it is 2012 and I’m just discovering your web site. After sampling this site, it looks like we have a lot in common – Texas, Provence and Paris. Your photographs are wonderful. It will be a treat to go through all your posts.

    BTW: Another point in common: husband – driver, me – navigator. Your experience is so very familiar. Driving in a foreign country when one is just a visitor is traumatic.

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