‘No Turn on Red’

Finally my own bed and environment again. Safe home, well … not exactly safe… The day after I came home from the hospital, I walked to the grocery store and somebody almost ran me over! They drove through the red light, at a speed of at least 40 miles an hour! I cursed, yelled in Dutch and was a “fish wife” for a few seconds. Then I realized maybe this is not the best idea… There are some crazy people in this world, next thing I know he could have got out of his car. So I walked in shock further to the store and forgot everything what I wanted to get there.
All the time I thought if something would have ever happened to me walking on the sidewalk, it would have been in Texas! They have hyenas you know and all sorts of crazy, scary wild animals on the loose.
But here in New York they have a lot of signs with; ‘No turn on red’… yeah… Everybody is still turning and runs me over when I walk. My question is why can everybody turn, even if it’s red? It doesn’t make sense at all.
But…every country and states have their own rules right? My country has weird ones to, don’t get me wrong!
To get on the road in the USA is slightly different than the Netherlands.
We spend thousands of dollars to get a driver’s license. Parents send us to driving schools and private lessons when we are 18 years old. In the USA you get a driver’s license at 16.  A parent teaches the child. If your mom or dad sucks, you’re kind of screwed too. But that’s ok; you will still get your driver’s license even when you will be a danger for yourself and others on the road.
It cost like 35 dollars at the DMV and you get a driver’s test with your own car in a quiet neighborhood for 5/10 minutes and you pass.
I know this because we needed to do the written and driver’s test in Texas.
(The Dutch license isn’t legal in Texas). I was stunned by how “easy” the test was, but also some of the written questions were so weird.
For example:
“Emotions affect your driving. If you feel angry, excited or upset, you should”:
A.  Take time to cool off before getting behind the wheel.
B.  Focus on the reason for your anger or excitement.
C.  Drive 5-10 mph slower than the speed limit.
Or
“When you missed an exit at the highway, you should”:
A. Put the car in reverse and drive slowly backwards.
B. Drive till you cross a next exit and take the U-turn.
C. Stop your car and turn around in the opposite direction, only when there are no cars approaching.
Of course there are also a lot of difficult and hard questions, luckily I passed on one try, but some of them were just really ‘give a ways’. I cannot believe that the intelligence of a person is so low that people make mistakes with these kinds of questions. They probably do that for a good reason.
But outside my near death experience when I got home, I also had a nice experience. I met up with my old friend from Amsterdam in Manhattan.  We go way back, so it was really nice to see her.  I even missed the old Dutch habit… our 3 kisses.  I am hugging now for 2, 5 years. It brings me many times in awkward positions because I am touching…without wanting… almost people’s private parts!
I am not the tallest person in the world and sometimes I get mislead with or a handshake or a hug or only a hug and a hand on my shoulder. If I don’t pay enough attention what is coming for me and the person is very tall, my hand can be somewhere, where I definitely don’t want it to be. It always gives me the laughs inside when it’s happening and I’m secretly pulling my hand towards me, so the other person doesn’t notice when my arm is stuck between our 2 bodies. I really need to find something for that.
Maybe my friend from building 12 will know the solution. She is my born and raised ‘real New Yorker’ friend. She gives me all the ins and outs to survive in this big city.
And one of them she is hammering!  STOP smiling to strangers so much!
In my mind I think it can make a difference to a person to just give them a ‘good day’ smile. It’s polite and friendly. Also my sisters said years ago that ‘arrogant’ doesn’t fit me, and it made me look ridiculous.
So now it’s in my nature and I don’t know better than give people smiles. Well… Here in NY it’s better to not do that. So sorry sisters, I am back in the game!
My friend is reminding me that my smile means flirting in some people’s eyes, because “no one in New York smiles”. I didn’t really believe her until we went out for dinner together and at the end of the evening we almost didn’t have to pay for anything. Comments like  “Laura you’re killing me here” and” stop smiling to that old man” was the standard lines that evening! I tried to explain that smiling to the oldies didn’t mean anything, but she proved me wrong and before I knew it I had a few oldies staring at me the whole evening including some winks.
Luckily she could laugh about it, but she felt the whole evening like she needed to protect me. She promised never to leave me alone in a bar or restaurant for my own sake.
And then another example from this week, when I took the train with the baby to Manhattan! I smiled at a guy who gave me his seat, so friendly I thought. He started to talk to me after about 20 minutes sitting in the train. He was a backpacker/navy guy with the legend name ‘Juan Carlos’ and was talking about standards and values for how to raise a child. I was coloring with Sophia and he told me that he respected that. We also talked about life and traveling and it was a really refreshing conversation. When I told him that my husband and I traveled a lot as well, he couldn’t leave fast enough! He was gone in 5 minutes,after I mentioned I was married!!
I should have known that from the beginning when he told me his name… (An inside joke, I lived in Spain)
I just still believe in the good of people and that’s why I was very flabbergasted how he left.
My husband is still teasing me and makes jokes about it and my ‘real New Yorker’ also had for sure her laughs when I texted her.
At least it’s never boring with me…
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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Carla says:

    Een geestig verhaal . Ik zag het helemaal voor me!!

  2. Ps. Ook hier in Tilburg begrijpen sommige niet dat een vriendelijke lach niet betekend dat je meer van ze wilt! Same thing everywere

  3. maggie says:

    Laura, I love reading your blogs but have a few comments: 1) there are no “hyenas’ in Texas only in Africa, but we do have coyotes. 2) to learn to drive I took a special class when I was 18 and not taught by my parents (thank goodness) 3) New York drivers are notoriously bad and 4) you went to New York by way of San Antonio one of the friendliest cities in the country, so, of course, you smile at everyone – so do we. Love you much, Maggie

  4. Becky Thomas says:

    Hahahahahahahaha…we are all “fish wives” from time to time! Love you Dutchies!!!

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