Since moving here I have tried to adopt the 'right' attitude about driving in Sicily so that I would never let this obvious annoyance 'get to me'. I mean, there is no way you can change the way these people drive. It is just a reality of living here. They are insane, so you better just accept it. Why beat myself over the head, tear my hair out, holler, shake fists, rant and rave, make obscene gestures, and the like, when the only thing such reactions accomplish is more aggravation and negative energy than the incidents themselves? So, I have molded myself into one of those extremely alert and (mostly) very calm drivers that no one or nothing can bother, as long as no real dangers to me and my family are involved. I really try to uphold this philosophy when driving and I am sure I am not the first expat to say this.
But I do have my lapses, especially when alone. Can you blame me when the guy driving in front of me is going literally 15 miles an hour in a 45 mph stretch of road because he is having a lively, fully engaged conversation, hand movements, eye contact and all, with the pal sitting next to him, having no thought of the line of cars impatiently trailing him? Such scenarios are common. Extremely slow drivers here usually fall into one of two categories: those obliviously talking on cell phones, or eldery people who are probably scared out of their minds to be surrounded by such unpredictible and unaware (or uncaring is probably a better word) fellow drivers.
So there stuck behind this slow driver, as I felt my annoyance level reach what felt like an all time high, I found myself getting closer and closer to the car in front of me. Yes, I was blatantly tailgating. It was not so much the ridiculously slow speed that was bothering me, it was more the fact that he did not care one little bit for saftey or general road etiquette and the effects of his driving style on the world around him. So, my only recourse was blatant tailgating while muttering to myself 'can you see me yet you idiot, pull over and let us pass if you are unable to drive at a normal speed and have a conversation with your pal at the same time!°?&%#!!!!'
And then I was reminded how none of this matters and how ridiculous I was being when I was terrified by a different sort of uncaring driver that shook me to my senses. I am talking about the other extreme kind of driver commonly encountered here in Sicily -- the excessive speeders. This guy was no doubt just as annoyed as I was by the slow going car, but rather than stew and simmer about it, he decided to act. I heard the reving engine before I saw I was being passed by a car from behind at what seemed like 70 mph. No matter that the oncoming traffic on this two lane, two way road was right there in front of us. Yes, this was a near miss head on collosion. I don't even think the slow guy noticed the almost accident that took place in front of us as he was still so engrossed in his conversation. My heart skipped a beat, I backed off the slow guy and could do nothing more than shake my head back and forth in disbelief. These drivers never stop to annoy, baffle and unfortunatley scare me to death almost every day of my Sicilian life.
And then suddenly the slow guy pulled over and slowly I, along with all the cars behind me, picked up speed heading into the city as if nothing had happened.