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Wait. What?! Scenes from the motorway.

December 3, 2008

Over the past few months I have done a complete 180 with regards to my attitude towards Belgium. It may have taken 10 months (I’ve been here 10 months!) but I am absolutely smitten with this quirky little country. I suppose you could say that Belgium & I have entered the “Honeymoon” phase of our relationship.

All the little things that used to aggravate me or depress me or anger me or drive me to eat entire packages of kluski noodles in one sitting now make me smile, laugh or sigh – appreciatively.

No Christmas sales? I didn’t need to spend money anyway…

Can’t find chicken broth, tomato juice, cream of tartar, chili mix or Velveeta Shells & Cheese at the grocery store? Why, it’s the perfect excuse to learn how to make Stouffles or Vol au Vent!

Shops closed on Sundays? What a great opportunity to scrub the floors and study for the CPA exam.

As you can see, it’s getting a bit ridiculous.

However, while I may be embracing everything from Belgium’s epicurean wonders to their unique sanitation policies, there is one Belgian quirk that I will never, ever appreciate: their highways (or, as my coworkers call them, the “motorways”). The way that they drive on their “motorways.” And the way that they planned their motorways. And the way that they stick roundabouts in the middle of their motorways. And the signage on their motorways.  And how they DRINK on the motorway. gaaahaha %*$!

Perhaps you can tell that this Motorway resentment has been smolodering for awhile? Umm… yes. But. The past few weeks have been fairly epic in terms of “Wait. WHAT?!?” moments that the resentment bubbled right up and spilled onto this site. I’ll outline two of these moments below. Maybe then you will understand my frustration (or just go back to thinking I’m a huge overreactor. Which would be totally understandable.)

1. I am NOT a Crow.

Time: Two weeks ago, super late at night.

Reason for being on the &%#forsaken highway: Trying to get home after a loong day.

Wait. What?!? Moment: I’m driving myself home from the office at a stupid late hour, struggling to keep my eyes open when all of a sudden I see a guy standing on the median 15 yards ahead. He’s dressed in the Neon Safety Orange suit favored by emergency workers here. And swaying with the wind.

I jerk wide awake and swerve into the other lane (thankfully no one else was on the road at that hour) so that I wouldn’t come close to hitting him. At the same time I’m perplexed – are they a normal Emergency worker or are they in trouble.?I don’t see any parked cars nearby or any emergency cones.

And then I get close. And realize that it’s a DUMMY. A prop. Some kind of “slow down, there’s construction coming up” type warning. A scarecrow for the motorway.

Obviously, I promptly hit the gas and sped the rest of the way home.

1. I am NOT a Crow.

Time: Two weeks ago, super late at night.

Reason for being on the &%#forsaken highway: Trying to get home after a loong day.

Wait. What?!? Moment: I’m driving myself home from the office at a stupid late hour, struggling to keep my eyes open when all of a sudden I see a guy standing on the median 15 yards ahead. He’s dressed in the Neon Safety Orange suit favored by emergency workers here. And swaying with the wind.

I jerk wide awake and swerve into the other lane (thankfully no one else was on the road at that hour) so that I wouldn’t come close to hitting him. At the same time I’m perplexed – are they a normal Emergency worker or are they in trouble.?I don’t see any parked cars nearby or any emergency cones.

And then I get close. And realize that it’s a DUMMY. A prop. Some kind of “slow down, there’s construction coming up” type warning. A scarecrow for the motorway.

Obviously, I promptly hit the gas and sped the rest of the way home.

2. A Lovely Day for a Guinness

Time: This morning.

Reason for being on the &%#forsaken highway: Boyfriend needed to be dropped off at the airport for his 5 day work trip to the US. I had to go earn my salary.

Wait. What!?! Moment: Traffic was more backed up than usual (we were going at the brisk pace of 5km/hr) but you could tell from the cars ahead that around the next bend the pace was going to pick up. Just as BF and I were about to get around said bend we slowed to a crawl as all of the cars ahead of us in our lane were trying to merge into the other lanes. Obviously none of the other cars could make room for my humongous Mini so we got right up behind the source of the blockage – a PARKED car. In the MIDDLE lane of a 4-lane highway. There was a person inside and although everyone was honking loudly, there were no emergency blinkers or signs of an accident.

So what was the issue? What was keeping boyfriend from making it to the aiport on time? Well, we got stuck sitting next to the car for a good minute or so which gave us ample time to survey the situation:

The guy – in a business suit, no less – was asleep at the wheel.

With a newspaper spread out across the steering wheel.

And his hand around a half-full OPEN BEER can resting in the cupholder.

WHAT?! $#%&$^

 

So. Understand my frustration?

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