An anglophone from the west. A francophone town. Hoo boy.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

quatre flashers

Every day, I am amazed by the new driving skills that I have acquired by living in Québec. When we first got our car, I was criticized for driving "too safely". I was a danger to those around me. Crazy moves like coming to a complete stop at a stop sign, shoulder checking, using my turn signals, obeying the speed limit, and leaving 2 seconds of space between myself and the cars in front of me -- all of these caused no end of trouble for the drivers around me.

But experience on Québec roads has taught me the error of my ways. Besides learning the correct way to drive (eliminating all those pesky old bad habits) I've also learned the correct way to park. And I certainly don't mean parallel parking. Maybe people do that in Montréal*, where space is at a premium, thanks to all those scary foreigners with their strange ways and customs. And food**.

No, here in la région, it's much easier to just stop your car wherever you are and turn on your quatre flashers. The four-way flashers. Hazard lights. Need to stop in the middle of a busy street? No problem. Quatre flashers. Double parked? No problem -- quatre flashers. Just stopping for a minute and don't feel like feeding the parking meter? You guessed it -- quatre flashers.

Based on a highly scientific study of parking habits in downtown T-R, conducted from our balcony, people in these parts have serious problems with parking. The spaces may be big enough to accomodate a tank, but it's still problematic. And that's not even counting having to figure out how to use the parking meter... True story: we were once stopped by a young woman who had apparently NEVER SEEN A PARKING METER and asked us how to use it. Not a question of what are the hours or something similar, but she actually wanted to know HOW to work the machine. So apparently, it's not just me who is learning things about how to drive in Québec.

* Where it is illegal to turn right on a red light.

** I'm dying for restaurant options that don't include bad Italian (overcooked spaghetti) or pub grub (variations on burgers, fries, poutine, and club sandwiches). Hello Indian? Thai? Chinese???

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