Rude motorists can drive newcomers crazy

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Editor’s note: The Press rarely publishes anonymous letters to the editor, but is making an exception today because driving in Idaho is a featured topic.

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My husband and I are recent transplants to North Idaho from Southern California. As our five kids were growing up, they spent their summers either traveling the country in a motor home with my folks or helping my husband’s folks on their property in Athol. We also spent plenty of winters visiting and enjoying the cold weather and snow. Now, with our kids grown and my husband retired for six years, it was time for me to retire so we could fulfill a dream of moving to the Coeur d’Alene area and provide for future grandkids what our parents did for theirs.

It took a few months, and while we haven’t found that dream property yet, we did find a beautiful little house in Rathdrum on a quarter acre with lots of pine trees all around where we can live comfortably for a few years. The people here are friendly and welcoming, and we look forward to local events where we can go and get to know our little city better.

That being said, there is one drawback to living in North Idaho, at least for the first few months. Drivers here are pretty darn rude to Californians. Several times when I have been driving somewhere, driving the speed limit I might add, drivers will pull right up behind me and start tailgating. It happens on side streets, main thoroughfares, the freeway and the highway. This doesn’t happen to my brother-in-law or my in-laws, but then they do have Idaho license plates. No, it happens because I have a California plate. I am as sure of that as I am that the sun will rise and set each day. It’s especially disconcerting knowing that I need to make a left turn off Highway 95 in half a mile and I have some jerk 3 feet off my rear bumper acting like I’m keeping him from winning the Daytona 500. And of course, as I pull into the left turn lane, he (or she) goes by and either gives me a rude gesture or a dirty look.

Now, I know California drivers pretty much put the country to shame on rudeness, but Californians are equal opportunity rude…that is to say, they don’t care where you’re from…they can be just as rude to fellow Californians as they can be to those from out of state. And really, when you get down to it, because California is such a tourist destination, they tolerate out-of-state drivers pretty well. Better, I think, than other states tolerate them.

What really irks me is that many North Idahoans have a preconceived notion of what they “think” Californians are like and judge them because of it. In truth, the Californians I know that have moved here are mostly retired and looking for a slower-paced lifestyle. Someplace they can live comfortably and enjoy their retirement years. And to be honest, while I will always be a “California Girl,” I am looking forward to the seasons and all the new outdoor activities that my husband and I can try and enjoy that are right outside our door. I’m also looking forward to my children (and future grandchildren) visiting and providing for them the wonderful times that my own kids had and remember well.

So, I guess until I get my Idaho license plate, I will have to put up with the tailgating and rude gestures. But don’t worry, I won’t judge all North Idahoans on the actions of a few inconsiderate drivers.

A NEW NORTH IDAHOAN

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