A truck filled with wood, plastic and all things irony

This morning I was driving behind a pick up truck filled to capacity with an assortment of ladders, poles, planks, pointy metal things, tubing, plastic containers and other dooberrywhatsits I couldn’t describe if my life depended on it.

One of the things I CAN describe is the big white sticker on the back that read ‘Safety Is My Number One Goal’.

I noticed this sticker just before he violently mounted the central reservation (median) and nearly scattered indescribable carnage across the road like the dramatic end of a drunken Jenga match.

So that was terrifying.

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2017 is already a crazy ride!

Before I start……Happy New Year!!!!!

It’s New Year’s day and I’m working.

My shift started at 4am, so I had to leave the house around 3am.  This meant driving through post-New Year crowds and traffic….in Las Vegas.

This is what I encountered:

  • A mere 45 seconds into my drive an oncoming car veered into my lane for about 10 seconds before realising they were on the wrong side of the road.  I had to stop the car otherwise I would have hit them!
  • A multitude of cars were drifting between lanes without any indicators [turn signals] or awareness of others around them.
  • A few cars straddling lanes for extended periods of time.
  • Lots and lots of red lights.  Seriously, I was at a set of red lights for almost 5 minutes, with no other cars going through the green lights on the cross street!
  • A truck stopped in the middle of the road, blocking everyone.  No reason that I could see.  Also, no driver that I could see.
  • Lots and lots of cars cutting each other up/off.  One driver was so impatient at a red light that he moved into the ‘Right Turn Only‘ lane and then when the lights went green he went straight, cutting up the driver to his left just to get in front.  He pulled over and parked 100 yards later.
  • Lots of loud, drunk people teetering on the edge of the pavement [sidewalk] threatening to walk out in front of my car.

Now, this was the first time I had EVER had to drive to work on New Year’s day in Las Vegas.  I couldn’t believe the experience compared to my normal commute…..

It was no different.

toystorybaddrivers

The DMV was everything I expected it to be….unfortunately.

Yesterday I needed to go to the DMV to begin the process of applying for a driving licence [license].

To all my fellow Brits across the pond, the DMV (Department Of Motor Vehicles) is the American equivalent of the DVLA (Driving and Vehicle Licencing Authority) but with more attitude, sneering and total disregard for anyone and everyone.

We had, in fact, been there the day before at 7:30am which was half an hour before they opened.  However, the queue [line] was already about 80 people deep, so we said ‘fuck it’ and decided to go shopping for some delicious home comforts at the international market.

I’ll write about this another time no doubt.

So yesterday we arrived at the DMV at 7am; a full hour before they opened,  We were still about 40th in the queue [line].  Luckily the sun wasn’t beating down on us making me sweat through my shirt, so that was nice.

It’s amazing watching Americans queue up. Us Brits are renowned for our amazing ability to queue.  If it was an Olympic sport we’d win gold every time, next to moaning about the weather and apologising [apologizing].

The queue was snaking around (what the Americans call) the ‘planters’ and getting quite long.

DMV queue

This is a real satellite photo…honest.

Now, let me ask you a question; where would you join the queue?  I mean, REALLY think about it…where would you stand if you turned up and saw all these pink dots, er, I mean people?

At the end of the queue maybe?

Well, some Americans decided to go down this route…

Dumbfuckery at its finest

Dumbfuckery at its finest

I seriously couldn’t believe the nerve of these people.  They were blatantly attempting to join the queue by giving the snake a second tail.

My wife and I were stood right on that corner, so she politely and with an air of “don’t you fucking dare” pointed out that the back of the line was behind all these increasingly angry faced people.  She may have appeared like she was smiling, but I think a more accurate description would be ‘snarling’.

It amazed me that these twats looked genuinely surprised; like i’d kicked them in the balls without warning.

These people didn’t actually realise what they were doing, which isn’t reassuring when you consider they all have driving licences.

Anyway, once the offices opened we all shuffled in to….well, the same queue, but indoors.  At least it was air conditioned, which was nice.

We got to the desk in no time and was greeted by the clerk who took our details including our phone number (the DMV staff all seem perplexed that we didn’t have a mobile [cell] number and had to take what’s called a ‘home number’).  We were then given each a form to complete and told to take a seat in the waiting room until the last four digits of our phone number was called over the tannoy.  The clerk said it wouldn’t take long as there were only 2 people in front of us.

Great.

So we sat down and completed our forms.  And we sat.

And we sat.

And we sat.

We ignored the dickhead sat next to the ‘please wear headphones’ sign with his phone blaring out YouTube videos.

And we sat.

People came and people went, but we still sat there waiting for our number to be called.

After an hour my ‘smiling’ wife went and rejoined the bastard queue from hell and was told by another desk clerk that our number HAD been called and we missed it.

Er, no we fucking didn’t.

It seems that your number is only ever called out once.  If you miss it you have to rejoin the queue and register it again.

Apparently they also text you to notify you that your number has been called.

No cell phone number, assholes…remember?

Our number must’ve been called in the 4.2 seconds it took to walk from the front desk to the waiting room.

There was no way we could’ve heard it because they don’t have the same tannoy speakers announcing the numbers anywhere else BUT the waiting room; not even in the toilets!

That makes for a nervously quick visit if you’re on your own.

Anyway, our number was FINALLY called half an hour later and we went over to desk 12 and took a seat.

The woman behind the desk – let’s call her Bitchelina – barely looked up at us and said “So what do you want?”

roz blink

Not “How can I help?”, or “What can I do for you?”.  No, she went with “So what do you want?”

My wife explained that she needed to renew her licence, change her surname [last name] to her married name and change her address.  I got halfway through explaining that i needed to apply for a US licence when Bitchelina barked, “Why did they send you to ‘Admin’?”

“I don’t know, we were just told to….”

“You shouldn’t have been sent to ‘admin’.  Why did they send you to me?!”

How the fuck should we know?  Ask the person who sent us; don’t sit there and talk to us like we’d somehow decided it would be funny to come over to your desk and fuck up your day.

Anyway, Bitchelina huffed and puffed about it, moaned openly to her colleagues that we were in the wrong place, stopped processing us on several occasions to socialise with colleagues and generally made it blatantly clear that we were an inconvenience to her.

She was rude, abrupt and only seemed to ask questions that consisted of a maximum of two words.

I had two words for her, and one of them was ‘off’.

(The other was ‘fuck’…in case you were wondering).

Anyway, once I had proven I am a real human being by providing a passport, US visa, proof of address (which still had to be verified by my wife), bank details, birth certificate, blood and urine sample, a cheek swab, the big toe on my left foot and my unborn first child, she thrust the paperwork I needed and grunted in the direction of the testing office.

Before I left I asked her to clarify if the driving portion of the test accepted hand over hand steering, or if it had to be hand to hand (like in the UK).

She didn’t know.

Of course she didn’t.

And that was probably my fault, somehow.

At this point I realised just how true the portrayal of the DMV is in TV and films.  The staff there are truly awful.  It’s where personalities go to die.

Anyway, I went to the testing office, handed over my paperwork and was allocated a machine to sit at for the written part of the driving test.  The machine resembled a cash machine [ATM] complete with touchscreen.

dmv atms

I sat down, pressed the ‘Start’ button and the screen advised there would be 50 questions, of which I had to answer 40 correctly.

No problem; I’d read the Nevada State driving manual and knew all there was about the rules of the road, what the road signs meant, how to navigate the road markings and how the traffic lights [traffic signals] work.

Question 1 – What is skidding?

Oh come on, this is going to be easy!

Question 2 – What do you do at a red light?

This is going to be a walk in the park!

Question 3 – How heavy should a baby be before they can sit facing forward?

Er, what?  Ok, no problem…I can skip it and come back to it.

Question 4 – If you suspect a driver is drunk, what telephone number should you call?

How is that relevant to driving?  I took a guess.  A wrong guess.

Question 5 – If you have an accident, other than the driver, who else should fill out an accident report?

a) A passer by

b) Other passenger(s)

c) The registered owner

Well duh, it’s obviously the other passengers as they would’ve been there at the time of the accident.  Nope, it’s the registered owner.

What??

Did you know that you can also lose your licence if you’re convicted for graffiti?  Nothing to do with vehicles or driving, just the simple act of defacing property with paint.

I didn’t either.

Needless to say, I failed the test.

Bollocks [gosh darn it]

Not only did this mean I felt stupid – considering it had probably been passed by people with an inability to understand the simple act of queuing – but it also meant I had to resit the test.  Imagine my joy when the ‘examiner’ (the woman sat behind the counter scratching her arse [ass] and probably scrolling through her Facebook news feed) told me that I can only do one resit a day.

You mean I have to come back again tomorrow?

Shit.

roz closed

So that evening I read the booklet cover to cover – including the date it was published (July 2014) and the number of staples used (2) – because i’d realised that the written test wasn’t about learning the rules of the road, but testing if you’d actually read the booklet.  If it’s in the booket, they’ll test you on it.

This morning my wife and I went back to the DMV at around 10am, queued up, got snarled at by the desk clerk, gave our telephone number, ran to a seat in case we missed our number being called out, paid the resit fee and went into the testing room to be sat in front of the ATM again.

This time it didn’t ask questions about babies and telephone numbers, naturally.

This time I passed.

Then I was directed to a desk where Bitchelina’s cousin was sat.  She told me I had to wait until the 23rd of September for the driving portion of the test.  That’s a month away!

Then she sternly said “You can come along any day and get yourself on the standby list, but there’s no guarantee you will get a test and you can be sat here all day”

I wanted to make sure this option was in ‘addition to‘ having a scheduled test, rather than ‘instead of‘, so I replied, “Oh, so I CAN have the test earlier than the 23rd September?”

She repeated,  “You can come along any day and get yourself on the standby list, but there’s no guarantee you will get a test and you can be sat here all day”

That’s not really answering my question.

“So it IS possible to attempt a standby test even if I have a scheduled test in September?”

Without flinching she replied,  “You can come along any day and get yourself on the standby list, but there’s no guarantee you will get a test and you can be sat here all day”

2 weeks flashy

Hopefully you’ll get the movie reference, and not photo-sensitive epilepsy.

Each telling of this sentence became more and more insipid; like a piece of fruit gradually decomposing.

strawbaerry rot

Although this particular piece of fruit was bitter to begin with…like a lemon!  Yes, she resembled a rotting lemon.

Hmm, that’s not a sentence I was expecting to write when I began this post.

So that was my first (and technically second) experience of the DMV.  It was a service so far removed from the expected level of customer service you get in the USA.

Maybe they should work on tips like they do in restaurants, then the DMV would be a delightful place to visit.  But until then, they will remain to be a bunch of Demeaning, Monstrous Vaginas.

(See what I did there?)

I will no doubt write about the driving part of my test when it occurs.  It may be on the 23rd of September, or any day when I can get myself on the standby list, but apparently there’s no guarantee I will get a test and I can be sat there all day.

Coming live from Las Vegas!

I’ve made it!  I’m here!

I now live in Las frickin’ Vegas!

welcome to LV

What a massive cow shit of a difference from Crawley in England.

We arrived on Tuesday and it’s now Thursday, so I’ve had a little time to get my bearings.  I know I have a lot left to experience, but even in this short time I have some early observations that I want to share.These observations will be separated into three headings; Driving, Shopping and “Oh, you’re From England?”

The first of these is:

Driving

It all looks so easy.  The roads are about three times as wide as those in England, most of the cars are automatic and the speed limits are lower…so by rights it should all be smooth and easy.

Not so.

There are no road markings!  Ok, I exaggerate, there are a FEW road markings, but only a fraction of what I’m used to in England.  This makes junctions mildly terrifying.

Also, they don’t really make it clear that a lane is ending on the three lane road you’re on, despite the fact that the road doesn’t actually narrow in width.  For a guy like me who is used to specific lanes (WITH road markings), it gets a little unnerving that you’re now effectively driving on a lane and a half.

Then, out of nowhere, the lane you’re in suddenly becomes a mandatory left or right turn with minimal warning and you’re somehow expected to deal with it without impaling yourself on the massive 18 wheeler in the correct lane!

Over here it’s all about signage.  Small postage stamp sized signs with full sentences to read, positioned in obscure places tucked away out of your field of vision.  Well, except for ‘STOP’ signs; they’re EVERYWHERE!  In addition, they require a mandatory stop, even if you can see that there aren’t any cars coming for miles around.

These octagonal bastards are used a lot at four-way junctions (or ‘intersections’) where the rule is: ‘The first person who gets to the junction and stops is the first person who gets to go’.  I suppose it makes some kind of vague sense until you arrive at an intersection the exact same time as someone else; then it becomes some kind of weird Mexican stand off.

I miss simple ‘Give Way’ road markings.

give-way-road-marking

Then there are the traffic lights.  Where do I start?

In the UK they play a simple role; red for ‘Stop’ and green for ‘Go’ (with amber as the transition between them).  In Las Vegas they seem to have different rules depending on which junction you’re at, whether it’s a Thursday or if your star sign has the moon rising in Aquarius.

For example, you should stop at a red light if you’re turning right, right?  Nope, you CAN turn right at a red light, that is UNLESS the microscopic sign fifteen feet above you tells you ‘No turn on red’; that’s nearly caught me a few times.

Then if you’re turning left, you can obviously do so if the left arrow is green, and you can’t if it’s red….but if it’s flashing amber you can turn left providing the lofty sign says ‘Yield to Traffic’.  Surely that means you have to stay still and let traffic pass?  Nope, it means you can turn left providing it’s safe to do so.

traffic signal hell

Then there are flashing red lights that sometimes mean stop and sometimes mean there are lights ahead….or is that flashing amber?

Did I mention that if you’re in a lane designated for turning left or right, you STILL have to ensure your indicators are on.

Plus, the speed limits are laughable.  Near our house it’s a 35mph limit on a road the size of a UK dual carriageway, which is 60mph.  These are long, wide roads with plenty of room, so why so slow?

With the speed limits, Stop signs, unmarked roads and traffic lights from hell….it takes forever to get anywhere.

All this in a country where 32% of citizens own guns.

Still, one thing that the USA does do right with regards to motoring is the price of fuel and the fuel pumps that lock into place.

Although, if I hear Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s “When I See You Again” on the radio one more time, I’m going to make it 33%.

Shopping

One of the things I wasn’t looking forward to in the USA was the sheer magnitude of adverts (or ‘commercials’) on the TV.  Every 10 minutes, for 10 minutes.

I have to say the frequency of these interruptions is a bit annoying, but at least the adverts are better than those in the UK.  American commercials tend to be funnier and more upbeat.  Plus, hearing all the side effects of some miracle drug or another is just laughable.

‘Want to reduce your blood sugar?  Ask your doctor about Fuckitol.  Side effects may include dizziness, high blood pressure, impaired vision, rectal bleeding, the loss of one or more limbs, nasal collapse and excess navel hair.  So ask your doctor about Fuckitol today”

Now, I know this next thing has been covered a million times on a million blogs, but adding tax to your purchase at the cash register sucks!

This is mildly annoying when buying clothes and stuff, but we bought a laptop at Best Buy and I got stung for $26 extra when I came to pay for it.  At least in the UK you paid what it said on the label.  I miss that already!

Today we went to Barnes and Noble, which is America’s answer to Waterstones.  But that’s where the similarity ends.  This ‘bookshop’ had (in addition to books) Movies, toys, movie merchandise, a café and restrooms.  Yes, this bookshop had toilets!  It seems that almost every shop (or ‘store’) in Las Vegas has toilets.  This is where England gets it wrong.

No-one likes to shop on a full bladder (or bowel).  Well done America, you win with regards to retail.

“Oh, you’re From England?”

No matter where we’ve gone over the last 3 days, as soon as someone hears my accent I get asked where I’m from.

Most correctly guess England; some still think it’s Australia.

As soon as they learn that I’m from England, they tell me they have a cousin/uncle/sister in law that either lives in England/Wales/Ireland (pick one), or originally comes from there.

I don’t care.  Just give me my laptop.

My favourite (I can’t bring myself to use ‘favorite’ yet) encounter, however, was in Trader Joe’s; an organic and vastly overpriced supermarket.  The cashier was loving my “British accent” and asked me “Is it always foggy in England?”

foggy london

Yes, and Jack The Ripper still roams the streets of London.

Now, this is only after three days of being here.  God only knows what experiences I’ll have going forward.

I can’t wait to find out.

When intelligence goes backward

As we all know, doctors and ambulances tend to have ‘Doctor’ or ‘Ambulance’ written on the bonnet (hood) of their vehicles in reverse. This is for 2 reasons.

  1. So some people can make complete twats of themselves by mistakenly mocking the vehicles for putting the stickers on backwards.
  2. So the car in front can read it in their rear view mirror and get the fuck out of the way (in case the siren and flashing lights weren’t enough).

Well, this morning whilst walking to work through central London, I saw a small van attempting to adopt the same principle whilst advertising its plumbing and cleaning services.

I say ‘attempting’; it looked a little something like this:

bob plumb reverse

How was that supposed to be effective?

For starters, the van looked like this:

small-van

It wasn’t tall enough to be read through the rear window in stationary traffic anyway. Plus, the text was so small it was virtually impossible to read unless your rear window was a huge magnifying glass.

Now THAT would scare the shit out of anyone driving behind you.

“Honey, the children in that car in front are huge!”

This got me thinking.

Assuming you COULD read the writing on the van behind you, and assuming you DID need a plumber AND a cleaner simultaneously, who the fuck has a pen and paper at the ready to take down all those details whilst driving?

Gnitsuahxe si elpoep emos fo ytidiputs eht.

Mothertruckers

I’m not a particularly aggressive driver and I don’t really succumb to road rage, but there are some occasions when I’d love nothing more than to drag someone out of their vehicle and then run them over with it.

Yesterday I was driving from Kent back into West Sussex after a heavy night with some close friends. I was feeling a little delicate to say the least and I just wanted to get home and die.

Anyway, this drive home involved four motorways, one of which was the M26. I quite like the M26 because it has the feel of a dual carriageway and actually has views of the surrounding countryside, as opposed to the trench-like M20 which I’m convinced has a thermal exhaust port at the end of it, no wider than 2 metres.

I hear that’s not much bigger than a womp rat.

Another characteristic of the M26 is the fact that it has 2 lanes rather than the standard 3. This results in one of the most annoying of sins in the history of driving, and makes me wish I’d paid a little extra at the dealership for bonnet mounted machine guns.

Being a vital link between the death star trench of the M20 and the car park known as the M25, the M26 tends to have a lot of lorries on it. This is fine if they’re being driven by conscientious, considerate and intelligent drivers; however, yesterday it seemed these people were having a day of rest and had instead entrusted their multi-wheeled leviathans to complete cretins.

There was a three lorry convoy crawling along in the left lane at a mind-blowing 50 miles per hour, when suddenly the penis driving the lorry at the back decided to speed up to 50.1 miles per hour and overtake. . As a result, this oversized male reproductive organ in a hat had blocked the overtaking lane and a queue had started to form behind him.

During the next torturous 12 minutes it became clear that the other two lorries were also being driven by massive manhoods because neither of them slowed to allow him to pass or get back into the left lane. This meant that more and more cars were building up behind them, weaving left and right at a staggering 50.1mph to get a teasing view of the empty motorway sprawled out ahead.

Eventually the idiot pulled in front of the other two lorries and the traffic could finally pass by. What I found interesting was the fact that every car, without exception, slowed down as they approached the new convoy leader; presumably to congratulate him for a successful overtake by shouting praise out of the window.

The woman in the car in front of me appeared to wave at him quite furiously, so that was nice.