Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Daily Nightmare on the Street.....

Lately, I spend a lot of my weekdays stuck in my apt sitting in front of my computer here with the work I do, so unfortunately I haven't been able to catch a lot of the interesting things that can happen out in the neighborhood. But of course, not day passes here without a chorus of horns honking below to bring me out to see what the racket's all about.

Something that is guaranteed to happen daily around here is a traffic jam, and man is it always noisy!!! I'm sorry to say this but after much observation, I have concluded that Lisbon has some of the worst selfish and careless drivers I've ever seen.....and I'm from the Washington DC area so that's pretty bad! But there are two major factors that seem to have turned so many drivers bad here: 1) There is NEVER enough parking anywhere or at any time, and 2) There is hardly ever any ENFORCEMENT of parking regulations. Put these two together then you have people parking their cars in any little space they can squeeze into, and that includes "ping-ponging" with the cars on either side if necessary! And it never ceases to amaze me where people leave their cars here, sidewalks and crosswalks are a norm (what? people actually use them to walk on?? :p), fields, medians, squares, stairwells.......everywhere!

The worst by far is when people get fed up trying to find a spot or are just too lazy so they double-park, which includes when people stack their cars out on a corner, which always blocks part of the passage through the street and these streets aren't big to begin with. The huge blindspot is also creates for other drivers trying to pass through the intersection has already caused two accidents within a 1 month period at the intersection below my apt, it's crazy. The rule here is that if you double-park, you're supposed to leave a paper with your cell or apt# to contact if you need them to move but of course people only do this maybe 50% of the time and many that do, aren't even around when you call! This leads then to many of my mornings being awakened by someone laying on their horn for 10-20mins at a time because they got double parked and are now late for work, ughhhh, you're not sure whether you want to kill them or the person that blocked their car in the first place! Then there are the delivery trucks that come around from late morning to late afternoon, who obviously have no space to stop and unload or pick-up stuff so they inevitably block traffic flow in the street, which causes another series of honkings and Portuguese drivers love to honk A LOT so you can imagine how annoying it can get VERY quickly. And if you're pedestrian, GOOD LUCK , because many times you're risking your own life trying to cross a street while manueuvering around parked cars and cannot even see if other cars are coming, I've had some close calls myself!

As I write this, I can already hear my noisy neighbors below, and I'm sure it won't be the last I'll hear today! I know back at home, we all despise the "parking nazis" who ticket for any and everything but after living here, I've come to appreciate what they do, because they actually end up preventing a lot of unecessary accidents and traffic jams which I'm sure has saved lives that are being lost in Lisbon. And of course, my ears wouldn't be ringing by the end of the day from all that %#*(#$)*#$ noise!!! So next time, you get some measly little ticket for parking enforcement, just remember, it could be a hell of a lot worse! The honking here has stopped finally, so time to get back to work before something else happens and the chorus begins again.....yay.

This is the second accident I witnessed from my balcony in late afternoon where two cars hit each other coming in opposite directions. Notice right up the street from them, some idiot decides to stop right in the middle and took 10mins to drop off his kids and meanwhile traffic is building up behind him and people had already started honking of course. I also see another car double parked ahead of that guy. And this isn't even that bad for parking on my street, it's normally a lot worse!

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