In a roundabout way

When moving to another country, do not assume that you will happily and naturally accept everything in your new culture. Just because you are grateful that this country has accepted you as one of their own, you may well experience the human (and dare I say British) trait of somewhat arrogantly comparing almost everything to “the way we do things at home.” For me, this has been, including but not limited to: food, shopping, pubs, schooling and the biggest one of all – driving. In Canada, I do not think the standard of driving is that great. In particular, I have a problem with Canadian drivers on roundabouts. For some reason, roundabouts have started springing up in Greater Vancouver, without anyone bothering to educate drivers on their use.

For me, this means two things. One is anger. I spend an unnecessary amount of time shaking my head, and occasionally my fist, at drivers as they navigate something that they really do not understand. They understand them so little that they even refer to them as “traffic circles”. (I really don’t know why. Was the word “roundabout” not descriptive enough?)

The second thing is my need to educate. I do this in an angry, passive aggressive way. My main bone of contention is drivers’ inability to indicate when they leave the roundabout. I have been known to deliberately drive around my local roundabout several times a day, trying to teach the unfortunate people driving behind me that when exiting the roundabout, they must signal to show other drivers where they are going. I do this by driving around the roundabout very slowly, then deliberately moving my indicator to its upward position in an overly dramatic fashion as I make my exit, whilst staring intently in my rear-view mirror as if trying to convey my superior driving skills to the driver behind. It rarely works, and I have often found myself in a near-collision situation due to my obsession with looking behind me instead of forwards, to check to see if the unwitting student has followed my “advice”. I am providing this as a kind of free community service. It is unbelievable to me that drivers scoot round these things and just suddenly shoot off without any warning.

At a dinner party recently, when this subject randomly came up (I may have brought it up, I’m not certain), a fellow diner decided to give me a lesson in the difference between roundabouts and “traffic circles”. He went on to inform me that you do not in fact need to signal when leaving a traffic circle, though you do need to signal when you leave a roundabout. Right. OK then. Glad we got that one cleared up.

By Juliet Sullivan