View from the Hammock: What’s the big rush?

George Nowak ( The Barefoot Man )
George Nowak ( The Barefoot Man )

Every time I make an annoying trip to George Town, I ask myself the same question – “Why are people in such a hurry, what’s the rush?”

It’s an asphalt insane asylum out there – drivers tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes, passing on blind curves, speeding, yapping on cell-phones, awful music blaring at seismic levels.

A visitor once asked me if it was true that life moves at a slow pace on an island. All I could do is laugh and suggest that she stay on the beach and do not attempt to cross the West Bay Road.

I’m probably the most hated driver on the roads between Bodden Town and George Town. I believe I hold a world’s record as the person who has been rewarded with the most middle fingers. If a “haste driver” catches up with me in a grocery store or a gas station, they’ll ask, “Why do you drive so slowly”? My usual response is, “Why are you in a rush? The island is only 22 miles long. Where are you going in such a hurry”?

“Driving so slow is dangerous” is the usual retort. “No,” I retort back, “you were tailgating me and that’s dangerous.”

When someone tailgates me, my driving becomes even more slothful, around 5 mph. That usually unhinges these Richard Petty’s of Cayman to reward me with the bird.

Now the ones who really have me scratching my head are those careless road loonies who weave dangerously through traffic just so they can get to the next stop light before me. In most instances, both of us will end up at the same red light at the same time with the stressed-out speeder pulling out his hair while I puff my cigar. What’s with the rush people ?

Then there’s the honkers, you know those who can’t wait for my brain to tell my foot to step on the gas when the light turns green. Chill out people. And don’t do that to me; don’t honk at me the second a light turns green. I’ll box you in. I’ve honed these skills. I get pleasure out of irritating short-fused, impatient drivers. The cold-shoulder most of Cayman’s drivers give to our traffic laws is a cash-cow that’s being ignored by government.

Just calculate this:

The average fine for the following traffic offences is around $200.

These are some of the easy-pickings offenses:

• Tinted windows

• Darkened license plates

• Failure to stop at stop sign (how often do you see that?)

• Passing in a no passing zone

• Uncovered sand-and-marl trucks spilling their load on the road

• Driving at night without lights

• Cell phone hypnosis

• Passengers (often including children) riding in the bed of a truck

• Outdated inspection stickers

• Parking illegally in a handicap section

• Etc., etc., etc. . . .

The non-compliance of these traffic laws is commonplace in other countries, however here in Cayman, it’s epidemic. I once walked around one of our supermarket parking lots and counted 22 vehicles with outdated inspection stickers. When I ask some of my close friends why they don’t stop at a traffic sign, everyone seems to give the same response – “Why stop if there’s no traffic coming?” That answer gives me road rage even when I’m not on the road.

The chaotic drivers on our island seem to think that the roads are an extension of the Monza Formula One race track. Collisions result from a reckless disregard for other people’s lives, disdain for traffic laws and too often unconcerned traffic police.

Merging is a competition, not a mutual effort; road signs are merely ornamentation. Taxis and dirt bikers maneuver in ways that I would not attempt on a Play Station. Drivers will tailgate, wildly waving their hands as if to signify an emergency.

I used to think that maybe some of these road maniacs were fearful of being late for work, a hot date or a domino game; I have concluded that they simply enjoyed dicing with death for kicks.

For what my opinion is worth, I see it all like the “broken window theory”: Ticketing, fining and arresting traffic violators creates an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, thereby possibly preventing more serious crimes from happening.

If you don’t agree with me, the question remains – WHAT’S THE RUSH?

When not traveling to some faraway island, George Nowak (The Barefoot Man) performs at the REEF Resort in East End and the Wharf Restaurant. Read about more of his adventures in his book, Which Way to the Islands.