I just want to say that I love my coworkers. I avoid blogging about them because I don't have the right to tell other people's stories without their permission. I am willing to suffer--or at least to get into a big snit about--the consequences, of readers completely misinterpreting what I write about myself, but I don't want to visit that upon my co-workers, even anonymously. That said, here's a slice of life after meeting up with the gang.
As the pilot, I'm coming on shift to relieve one of the pilots who is already on the job. There's a lot of work to do here, so there are already two pilots down here, and four technical specialists, and they've been working fourteen hour days for two weeks. They're all a little crazy, but today they finished early, that is to say around six p.m., while the restaurants are still open, and tomorrow a later start is planned. They've seized the opportunity to go somewhere that isn't Denny's for dinner. (Denny's is a North American restaurant with supremely ordinary American food; its only virtue is that it's open twenty-four hours a day).
We all head towards two rental vehicles in order to play follow-the-leader towards the chosen restaurant. I get in the back of the second vehicle and as the co-worker who will be driving gets in, she tells the driver of the lead vehicle, "Okay, but no U-turns and no cutting across three lanes of traffic to turn left from the curb lane on a red light!" That sounds like a reasonable request. I buckle up, imagining that she is exaggerating for humour some previous navigational gaffe by the guy driving the other vehicle.
We go several blocks, at a speed not entirely inconsistent with local speed limits, and then suddenly the vehicle ahead does a U-turn in the middle of the block and turns right into the parking lot of a "Center for Digestive Diseases." Those in our vehicle are agreed on the unsuitability of this as a place to eat dinner, but before we need convey our veto to the lead vehicle, it circles the parking lot and turns back onto the street, initially in the curb lane, but then with a single flash of the turn indicator, he crosses three lanes of traffic and turns left. I look at the others for some confirmation that he only did that to tick off our driver. Deliberate defiance of her stipulation, I guess. But no, this is the way the drive goes. There's another U-turn, more turns, both left and right from the wrong lane, and another circuit of a parking lot.
We finally park at the restaurant. The driver denies responsibility, claiming that the maneuvers were all specified to him by the navigator. The navigator blames the GPS unit. We all eat dinner. It is good.
In defence of the driver and navigator, U-turns are acceptable, legal and normal in this town. Many times when a light turns green everyone who was stopped at the light makes a U-turn. It's a rare town in Canada that allows them and we all think they are crazy manoevers. I can't defend the lane changes though. They were bizarre.
Edit in response to a question:
A U-turn is a procedure by which a driver going down a street maneuvers the vehicle such that it is going the opposite direction down the street, without actually leaving that street during the procedure. If the street is wide enough or the turning radius of the vehicle is tight enough, this can be accomplished in one continuous turn resembling the letter U. In the Canadian cities where I have lived, and the cities where my coworkers live, this is not normal driving behaviour. People do it, but not without checking carefully for police as well as traffic. If you don't like your direction of travel, you have to leave the street and reenter it, perhaps by going around the block, or turning into a parking lot.