Tuesday, September 27, 2011

So I’m wrong – again!

I like to think I know a lot about etiquette.  I like to think I know quite a bit about social mores and what is acceptable – especially in the South.  I tell you which fork to use, help you write a thank you note – whatever.  Once again Cleveland does something just a smidge differently.  What is it?  Funeral processions of all things.
I'm totally for pulling over for the funeral procession.  It’s a sign of respect and it’s just plain courteous.  It also makes sense.  That many cars caravanning to a location is difficult.  They need to stick together.  You don’t have to convince me. I’m for it.  But to what end should we do this – the pulling over I mean?
The routes I take most often in town are near 3 funeral homes.  I run into processions multiple times weekly.  On the streets in town, it’s easy to pull over and let the cars pass.  If I happen to be in the turn lane, I just stay there.  But what about a divided highway?  What about a divided highway with a grassy median and AND trees – so many trees one might even call it “woods?”  I’d never thought about it.  I’d never even encountered it until just the other day.  Since then it’s happened several times.  Much to my ever growing chagrin, funeral procession guidelines apply to divided highway!  What?!?!
It happened like this:  I’m driving down the divided highway.  The speed limit is 60 mph.  I travel past the portion with the grassy median to the section that is heavily treed – so much so that you can’t see the lane travelling in the opposite direction.  As I come around the corner, the trees end abruptly and I’m faced with a funeral procession coming from the opposite direction.  I’m going 60 mph (full disclosure, I was probably going faster – OK much faster).  I didn’t even consider pulling over.  I’m in the right lane and there is a car beside me.  I couldn’t pull over even if I wanted to. 
The car in front of me was clearly conflicted.  Slamming on the brakes, he managed to make it to the right but kept on going.  I speed by him.  Then I come upon more and more cars pulling over.  This was a big funeral.  There was a police escort and probably 40 or more cars.  They just kept coming.  I finally pull over just about the time I can spot the end of the line (through the grassy median and trees, mind you).  I actually believe I see some cars of non-mourners trying to jump into the procession, so at that point I begin driving again. 
I felt as if my fellow motorists were pointing and staring.  Perhaps they were saying, “She must be a Yankee or at least from Polk county.” 
When I’m wrong, I say it (sometimes anyway)  So lesson learned:  Funeral procession rules still apply to divided highways with grassy medians and trees.  I draw the line at the interstate, however!

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