Like most countries with a strong British influence, New Zealand is a left-hand traffic country.* Before I came here I thought, how quaint. It will take me a bit of time to adapt but I'm sure by the time I come back to the States I will think it's weird to drive on the right side. WRONG. I almost die every day.
It's a fundamental culture clash. Cars are coming at you from the opposite direction that they've been coming at you your entire life. You feel like their sole purpose is to murder you at high speed.
Here's an example. You're driving to the petrol station when your favorite Taylor Swift song comes on the radio. You're distracted for ONE SECOND when you pump up the volume and tweak with the levels for a premium Swift experience and BAM!!! You're motherfuckin' DEAD. Sorry, Taylor Swift doesn't play in heaven cuz she's still alive and you're motherfuckin' dead.
You think I exaggerate. You try making a right turn in a left-hand traffic country when it's pitch black out and raining. Come talk to me then. Oh wait, that's right. You won't be able to. Because you'll be DEAD.
And that's just driving. Walking is something else altogether. In NY, drivers are super afraid of hitting pedestrians. In Auckland, if you made the decision to walk or ride a bike, you made your bed and you're probably going to die in it.
Two things happen to me when I'm about to cross the street here. The first is I suppress a fart, because I fart when I'm nervous. Totes kidding? The second is severe performance anxiety.
Perform poorly as a thespian, you get bad reviews, the show closes. Perform poorly as a lesbian, nobody knows what that means except for this hilarious woman and other lesbians around the world. Perform poorly as a pedestrian, you're roadkill with no one to blame but the sociocultural phenomenon that makes Kiwis value a driver's right of way over a pedestrian's.
I had a nightmare that I was waiting to cross the street, but I was naked and Liam Gallagher was there and he handed me a miniature chalkboard and said, "Here, solve this differential equation while crossing the street or me mate's gonna shoot your mum in the face and Oasis will get back together."
Okay, no, I didn't have that nightmare. But what a great illustration of my fear of street-crossing.
Last night I walked to a discount liquor barn with two ladies from the hostel. We each got a box of vodka (cuz we'z classy bitchez) and started walking back. One of the girls dropped her box of vodka in the street and got hit by a car while trying to retrieve it.
Okay, no, she didn't. But she easily could have. And the New Zealand authorities would have had to call her parents and tell them their daughter was killed and this is what was in her possession at the time: a BOX of VODKA.
I just thought that was funny.
The Great Hanini
*Apparently, in olden British times people used to ride horses and carry swords on their left hip. Other people started getting super pissed off whenever they were walking down the road and their head got chopped off or they got slightly dinged on the forehead, so the knightly/chivalrous thing for the horse riders to do was to stop doing that and switch to the left.
The US used to be a left-hand traffic country until 1776, when we split with the Brits and distanced ourselves from their uncoolness for raping our natural resources and taxing us without representation.
Some people say driving on the left is actually safer than driving on the right, as most humans are right-eye dominant, and driving on the left allows you to monitor oncoming traffic better. I say those people can go fuck themselves because they're idiots and they deserve to die.
Okay, no they don't. But wouldn't it be awesome if a whole group of urban planners, traffic engineers and automotive manufacturing executives just up and died at the exact same time and a crackpot team of special ops were put on the case and the whole investigation lead back to this blog and I was arrested for wishing ill on these by-and-large innocent people living workaday lives? No, it wouldn't be awesome. Because killing people sucks big-time and I'd feel downright conflicted about my newly-discovered telekinetic powers when really I should be overjoyed about my newly-discovered telekinetic powers.
Hmm. This gives me an idea...