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I am a polite, mild-mannered person. Laid-back would be a good L.A. way of saying it - I say duuude a lot, about as much as I say "please" and "thank you". I hold doors open for people. I am kind to the elderly, even those who try to strike up conversations with me in elevators, despite my extraordinary claustrophobia. The peccadilloes and perversities of human nature that draw other, less mellow people to mouth off usually just strike me as strange and fascinating.

There is, of course, one exception. It's how you goddamn m-effing sonsabitches DRIVE in this bloody m-effing jesuschristinahandbag city. SERIOUSLY HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE YOUR HEADS UP YOUR ASSES?!?!? There's not a day goes by I want to take one of you out of your cars and SHAKE you. I wouldn't really, of course, cause I'm not like that, and I wouldn't want to run the risk of causing any terrible accidents. But I'd at least give you a stern talking-to. VERY STERN.

L.A. DRIVING HABIT THAT DRIVES ME TO MADNESS MOST OF ALL: Hey you in the left-hand turn lane! It's awesome you get your own lane, and we all enjoy a nice, protected left turn. But can you PULL UP FURTHER so that there's not another entire car-length (or more!) of space between you and the car in front of you? There's a lot of people waiting to get into that nice left-turn lane, and they're lined up so far back that they're BLOCKING THROUGH TRAFFIC in the lane right next to them. You're holding up an entire busy lane of Sunset Boulevard thanks to your lazy-ass lack of depth perception. Mothermaryofgodinabucket I hope your toenails curl up, dry out, and drop off.

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That's ain't the half of it, though. One of the key rules of driving that was instilled in me from the time I turned fourteen (which is when Angelenos get taken out to empty parking lots and taught how to drive stick) is so simple, and yet so ignored: USE YOUR TURN SIGNAL. All the time. No matter what. If you're in a clearly marked right-turn lane? Use it. All the time. As my dad says, give other people every indication of what you're going to do no matter how obvious it might be.

Rubber-necking at accidents. How many times have you been caught in some ridiculously frustrating, totally-unexplained bottleneck at some odd hour of the day, only to find out that it's some accident moved over to the shoulder (emergency personnel at hand, of course), that everybody's SLOWING DOWN TO LOOK AT. Listen. I know you're all freaky voyeurs, but if you have to make a choice between SUCKASS TRAFFIC and getting a slight glimpse of injured and miserable people (which - come on, is kinda sick), which would you choose? My point.

When you're stopped on steep hills, be respectful of the car in front of you: okay, this is a slight revision of my first rule, but it does matter if you're on a slope behind (or driving) a stick-shift. We need space to get into gear, which means we'll be rolling backwards a bit. Give us a bit of room - not a mothereffin car-length, but a bit.

Things that bug the gorrang-hell out of me that I know will never ever change:
- seeing somebody make some jackass move only to find they're (wait for it!)...ON A CELL PHONE!
- all you people who insist on driving huge SUVs and trucks around the extremely narrow side streets of Hollywood (the same people who seem to relish jamming their giant vehicles into compact parking spots).
- that guy in the fast sports car who decides to insert himself into a slow-moving lane of freeway traffic at the VERY LAST MINUTE (bypassing all of us poor souls who are actually waiting our turn to get on the 101). Fuck you, guy. Fuck you. Baby Jesus wept bitter tears of fire when you were born.

The thing I'm really trying to say here, is of course: think about your fellow driver. Wait your turn. Don't ride up on somebody's bumper, but don't go 25 mph in a 40 zone (it happens. A LOT.) Make sure you signal before turning through that stoplight.

Everybody's got to sit through the same traffic: how many times has some speed-demon done some crazy move to get ahead of the slowpokes, and then you find him sitting at the exact same light as the rest of us mortals? It's karma, dude: spread the driving love around and you'll get plenty back in return.

photo by fernando [pixelstains] via flickr