Unexpected Near Misses
Yesterday I was sitting at a red light in the left lane of a one-way street, waiting to turn left and facing West. There was a car next to me in the right lane and one behind me. In accordance with my usual habit, I had just stayed in first gear with the clutch pulled in.
Next thing I know, a white Ford F150, traveling North on the crossing street suddenly turned right/East, came around the corner in my lane and then slammed on his brakes, stopping in front of me when he realized he'd just turned the wrong way onto a one-way street and didn't even see me sitting there until he almost ran right into me. He stopped about four feet in front of me. My "safety valve" of sitting in gear was useless in this instance. It all happened so fast I didn't have time to react.
He didn't appear to be distracted or impaired and I could tell by the look on his face after he stopped he was thinking "What the hell did I just do?" There were no obstacles such as parked cars or bushes that would have stopped him from seeing me. I had a clear view of him as I watched him approach the intersection and he did not use his turn signal. I had no reason to think he wasn't just going to pass through the intersection with all the other cars. I was wrong.
By then the light had turned green and all the cars around me were honking their horns at him as he just sat there, blocking the lane and not knowing what to do next. I was able to back up enough to go around him on the left and that gave him room to pull into a conveniently-located driveway to get out of the way of the cars behind me.
I also had a rather surreal experience a few years ago when, at night, a car was going the wrong way on a median-divided Interstate. Fortunately, the vehicle was traveling in a straight line and remained in the other lane as we passed. I always wondered if, after they passed me, the occupants of that vehicle were saying "Look at that dumbass on a motorcycle on the wrong side of the Interstate!" Who knows what that deal was all about.
From now on, if I'm waiting on a one-way street to turn left, I'm staying back at least one car's length or more. Might annoy the driver behind me who rationalizes that extra 15 feet might keep him from getting through the light on time, but so be it.
You try to anticipate the unexpected: cars turning left in front of you, running a stop light, encroaching into your lane on a multi-lane, but you never know what kind of stupid things other drivers are going to do. Or, as Roseanne Roseannadanna would say, "It's always something."