Living in Los Angeles, I spend a lot of the time behind the wheel of my car. To be honest, I love it — driving has always been a passion of mine, the simple control and motion, the velocity and power. However, there is a bane of my motorized existence beyond any other, one thing that will make me wince more than anything not powered by law enforcement: a Toyota Camry.
To be fair, there’s lots of Toyotas making driving a living hell — Tundras are often driven like they’re little sports cars, wrecklessly weaving in and out of lanes at high speed, while I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a Prius driven either logically or at more than 50 miles per hour (even on the freeway). However, the Camry is a special kind of wacko, driving too slow or too fast at the wrong times, pulling in front of you and slowing down, logjamming the lane when you need to get by somebody or making an ill-advised left turn.
There are lots of rules I follow when I drive. Try not to get in the right hand lane when approaching a stop light at a large thoroughfare (people waiting on the walk signal plus right turns mean the lane can clog). Yellow lights mean “drive faster” unless safety or law enforcement is involved. Tap the brakes for blind turns or downhill stretches with secluded parts out of view, for there can lie speed traps. Park tail-in to make getaways speedier and easier (and give you more gears to choose from should you get blocked in and have to push your way out). Try not to get stuck behind minivans with DVD screens rolling, buses, tractor trailers (big turn dangers), SUVs or luxury vehicles. On two lane roads keep out for members of the Walker and Turner families (pedestrians and people making turns, often without signaling). Never dawdle — everybody has to be somewhere, and it helps to get there faster. Of course, always avoid unprotected left turns unless absolutely necessary (least safe thing in driving, a car ran the red and plowed into me while waiting to make a left turn when I was in high school), even if it means driving an extra block and making three rights or driving past the light and dipping through a parking lot.
The work of a paranoid mind? Maybe. I’ve never been in an accident where my car was in motion, and I consider that a great victory. I’ve been hit many, many times — mostly people hitting the rear of my bumper, once even while parked — but never when the wheels were spinning. My little gift from the transit gods, perhaps.
Anyhoo, in all of my driving rules, one of my biggest ones is “avoid Toyota Camries if at all possible.” Moondoggie my way around ‘em, speeding past, whatever it takes. It may be a US thing — I’ve never driven in another country — but in multiple states and municipalities, ignoring gender and race and creed, I have found one thing to be true: a Camry is likely to screw things up.
I don’t even know why so many of the worst drivers in the world have selected this model of vehicle. Do they have a club? Do they hold meetings? Do automakers have assessments during test drives that steers the “right” people into this vehicle? I’ll never know. Me? I’ll be the one trying to avoid the damned things.
Playing (Music): “Lord Lord Lord” by Kanye West feat. Mos Def, Swizz Beatz, Raekwon and Charlies Wilson