Flirting with Disaster

I know it is late (or early, depending on where you live), but after a day of unending flashbacks, I have to tell you about how we nearly died last night.

My husband, the rocket scientist, is a humble man in many ways, gregarious, kind, and compassionate, but he has a flaw or two (or three, or four): 1) He can be auspiciously flamboyant, 2) He likes to be right, and 3) He turns sixty next month. You cannot softly tell him anything he does not want to hear, or you’ll be accused of yelling at him, even if you whisper.

“Dear, you are about to put salt in your coffee.”

“I know, stop yelling at me.”

He’s extremely sensitive.

You all know how horrible Orlando, Florida can be to drive in. With the traffic, tourists, and old people, you are lucky to make it home alive anytime you dare to go out.

Yesterday we spent a few hours at a car dealership. My husband drives a Mercedes SLK 32 AMG. It’s a sporty little two-seater hard top convertible. He’s been thinking about trading it in. Youth is wasted on the young. The only people driving these cars are 60 year old rocket scientists. This car has a lot of horsepower. God help us if he was twenty.

After a few hours at the dealership, which we were smart enough to walk out of without a new set of keys, we decided to go down the street and dine at a lovely little Greek restaurant. After a delicious meal of phyllo pastries stuffed with spinach and feta, dolmades, roast lamb with rich gravy over rice we got on the road to head home.

We’re traveling east on Highway 50, also known as Colonial. For those unfamiliar, this is a seven lane road that cuts across the center of Orlando west to east, parallel to the 408 toll road. It is also one of the busiest roads in three counties. We are approaching the 417 which connects to the 408.

I say to the rocket scientist, “I think you need to turn left before the bridge.”

“I want to go south on the 417, so I turn right,” he says from the far right lane.

“No,” I say as we near the bridge, “You’ll have to turn left. The on ramp does a 180, and then you’ll be headed south.”

“I don’t think so,” he says going even farther over to the right, across the white line. Now we are riding on the paved shoulder to the right of the white line, a hair’s breadth from the ditch. He has his right blinker on. He never slows the vehicle. We are in the fucking median between the road and death, and we are running out of road as we come to the overpass. The light turns red at the intersection ahead of us.

“Honey, you are NOT on the road, you are on the shoulder, there’s a sign twenty feet in front of us.” I say calmly, refusing to scream. “There is not a right turn onto the 417 before the overpass.”

Jerking the car back onto the road to avoid the oncoming sign, speeding under the overpass, he blasts through the red light, starts to turn right against “one way” signs into traffic that is stopped at the intersection preparing to go left from the off ramp of the 417 onto Colonial, suddenly realizes his mistake, veers left, cuts across seven lanes, including three lanes of oncoming traffic which he miraculously weaves through to do a U-Turn that has us going back west in the right lane.

I grabbed ahold to my stomach, doing all that I could to keep the dolmades down.

He says, “I think I go right up here after the bridge.”

“I think you’re right,” I say.

“There should have been a right turn onto the 417 going south.”

“You’re right. But there’s not.”

43 thoughts on “Flirting with Disaster

    1. Friday and Saturday nights it’s particularly busy. The roads are especially dangerous when they are driven by crazy old men in fast sports cars! They are the worst. I usually curse when I see drivers do stuff like that. Usually I am in another car trying to avoid them!


      1. I had issues with women in mini-vans that simply barge into a lane with no warning. There’s also the speedsters who seem to get worse when it rains. One time I was on I-4 by Altamonte Springs to get to an interview and a mini-van sped by. It drenched my car and blinded me as I got to the exit ramp. Nearly hit the sign and the person behind me decided it was the perfect time to honk his horn. Honestly, driving in Florida is insane and should require a last will and testament.


      2. That’s scary! And it rains EVERY day in summer if only for five minutes.

        It is a good thing that those people coming off of the 417 were stopped at the light, had the traffic been pouring through the intersection, we might be in the hospital. I am sure they were screaming, “Crazy Old Fool!” Deep down inside, I was.


    1. You have your hands full!

      I would go insane trying to relearn how to drive in Europe, on the wrong side of the road, with the steering wheel opposite where it belongs. Best of luck to you 🙂


  1. Whoa! That sounds like a scary drive–and driving the wrong way against traffic? Yikes. I don’t think I could have been so calm about it. I’m glad you and your husband are OK.


    1. I was basically too scared to be reactive or very vocal.

      He said later that he appreciated that I did not yell at him, considering how sensitive he is, I was complimented by that.


  2. LOL. I’m not laughing at you; I’m laughing toward you. My trophy husband drives the same way, but he does it on purpose. 🙂 I’m glad you both made the trip in one piece. Maybe you should drive from now on.


    1. Funny things is, I usually drive my car when we go out together because I find his uncomfortable, but he wanted it at the dealership regarding a trade in.

      I laughed all the way home and then some more yesterday and today…but nearly peed my pants at the time. The Gods were with us.


  3. That’s scary. Fortunately, your story has a happy ending. I hate when the offramps are inconsistent (i.e. usually “right” is “right,” until “surprise”) and then to top it off they give you almost no notice (probably causes plenty of accidents and traffic in big cities, especially).


    1. When I first moved from Georgia to Florida, I was sooo confused with the left side on ramps. I never drove through anything like this except in downtown Atlanta. Even when I drove in NYC it wasn’t this bad. At least there they were well marked.

      Having cared for many accident victims of drunk drivers, I most often see behavior like this and think, “Drunk driver!” But mine has been sober for nine years! Now he’s just senile.


  4. OMG! Never, ever tell them where to turn or how to drive! And then when you don’t, they say you should have. Damned if you do or damned if you don’t! Been there. Glad you are still in the land of the living. 🙂


    1. Thanks Elle, me too 🙂 On most issues, I stay quiet and let him make his mistakes, as long as they aren’t going to be harmful. Telling him what to do is often likely going to result in the opposite. Having been lost with him a few times while traveling, I do offer him guidance from time to time, and try to be nice about it. This time I wanted to scream, but didn’t. I am just proud I did not shit myself.


    1. Sorry about that. I could breathe while it was happening either. I wanted to push the eject button. We’re fine. Took me awhile to get over it. Thanks for stopping by with a comment.


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