You Drive Me Crazy: Driving In The Cape Fear Area

Young Old Fart says…

When I first arrived in Wilmington, one of the few things I was looking forward to was a more relaxed driving environment. I was so wrong. I never thought it would be possible, but I have actually found a place that has worst drivers than NJ. If you’ve ever driven on the NJ Turnpike, you would know that when I say this is unbelievable, it is honestly shocking. Lucky for me I was stuck on the UNCW campus Mon-Fri, and over weekends, I would just mooch off my parents for rides. However, my mother (YAH) realized how I was avoiding driving here AT ALL COSTS. I mean, I could only use “I don’t feel like going out today” or “My contacts are bothering my eyes and my glasses give off a glare,” for so long. But, who could blame me? I was terrified (honestly, I still get very anxious when I am behind the wheel here.)! Everyday we would see at least two accidents, and that would be just driving to the local Wal-Mart. Once, when we drove to the beach I counted SIX! Maybe I was/am being a baby…silly me, wanting all my limbs to stay functioning.

Anyway, I have this theory that all these accidents are due to two distinct factors:

1) Wilmington consists of mainly retirees (aka people who leave their blinkers on and drive 20mph under the speed limit) and college students (aka children who apply makeup and text while driving, go 20mph over the speed limit, and blast their music to the point that anyone who isn’t completely deaf can hear them coming from miles away…because obviously all of this is “like totally fine”)

2) There are some unusual driving laws/lights/road signs around here.

As far as the freaky rules go, the one I find the most disturbing is u-turns. Basically, it’s legal to u-turn around any median and at any light unless indicated otherwise (which honestly, it never is). Why is this a problem? Well, often you’ll get people wanting to do multiple things at the same time and no one knows who has the right of way/doesn’t care if you do. What does this lead to? A four car pile-up.

Something else that really bothers me is how people constantly sit in the back of trucks and don’t seem to worry about being ejected out. This wouldn’t give me the jeepers creepers if the average speed limit around here was below 45mph, but it’s not. If I were a parent, my child would never be in a car without airbags/safety belts.

Finally, some lights in the Cape Fear area make NO SENSE! Often, you’ll see a quadruple rowed light that is sporting three different arrows, all the colors of the rainbow, and five signs around it. Normally everyone just does what they consider is appropriate, and yet again, what does this lead to? No, not a four car pile-up. But, a head-on collision, two rear-enders, and one side swipe.

Well, hopefully, I’ve at least prepared you for the insanity that is driving in the Cape Fear area. I suggest you bring some good insurance, a car you don’t like, courage, and a helmet. God’s speed.

Kittens and fudge,

YOF

Young At Heart says…

It is my firm belief that we need a national driver’s license in the great old U.S.A. Living in many states for many years, I can personally attest to the aggravation of trying to get a new license every single time one moves…barring our military personnel of course. With a lot of states, one must take a written test to prove that one now knows the laws of the road for that particular state. Now mind you…one can still have had accidents, tickets, etc. but for some reason the bureaucracy believes that filling in little circles with a number two pencil or clicking on a little circle proves that one knows how to operate a car….NOT!

Wilmington is proof! It has the highest car insurance rate in the state of NC (not that knowing this prior to moving here would have changed my mind). My agent explained that it’s due to the demographics here. OK, let me explain this. Lots of seniors and lots of college students = lots of car accidents=high insurance rates in Wilmington. Now add this little tidbit to the laws of the roads here, a downpour of rain at any given moment (you know the term hydroplaning), and drivers that insist on texting and talking on their cell-phone while driving and you can imagine the pile up rate. It is high. Almost every single day I see at least one accident while driving, and more often two to three.

Now, let me count the causes for accidents. First, u-turns that confuse everyone (as YOF said). Personally, I always wait until I know any possible driver, doing any possible thing, has vacated the area and THEN, and only then, do I proceed to do my u-turn.

Second, we have another neat little ditty that I just know causes accidents: the middle lane (in some areas) that is for drivers to use when making a left turn/right turn. Unfortunately, I have seen drivers use this lane to pass in, park in, and just about anything else but its intended purpose.

All in all, the Cape Fear is a great place to live in. But unfortunately, it is also an accident just waiting to happen, and just as unfortunate…you will pay the price.

Dented KISS,

YAH

Living Like The Locals: Common Stores In The Cape Fear Area

Young Old Fart says…

Whether you’re visiting, relocating, or attending college in the Cape Fear area, there are several things you must become accustomed to. While I’ll tackle other norms another day, I want to focus on the types of stores you’ll see around here.

I spent the majority of my childhood and angsty years in Edison, NJ where Applebee’s was the Friday night hotspot and chillin’ at Menlo Mall (until it became all ritzy and too expensive for my broke bum) was the place to meet new friends and wreck havoc. Basically, I knew where to go, what to get when I got there, and the specials of the day. When I first moved to Wilmington and started attending UNCW, I underwent “culture shock.” Who the heck were these happy people that called me “ma’am” and offered to help me with my groceries? Why was everyone always smiling and asking me about my day? (I doubt natives to the Cape Fear area understand my confusion, but notherners get where I am coming from). Worst of all, I was missing the stores and restaurants I had gotten used to, I missed my “homes away from home.” Ultimately, I had to suck it up, get over my losses, and embrace my new area like a true local.

Here is just a sampling of what you may find in the Seahawks’ hometown:

  • While I was used to Starbucks being located on every corner, the most popular coffee chain down here is Port City Java. But do not fear Starbucks lovers (fyi they are SOME Starbucks locations around here), PCJ  offers the same types of caffeine-induced concoctions that are just as overly priced. The one difference: you can actually pronounce the names of these products.
  • My favorite “fast food” place in Edison was my beloved Baja Fresh. Notherners, don’t even ask natives about this place, they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about. Instead, they’ll refer you to either Moe’s Southwest Grill (which we also have in NJ) OR the collegians’ absolute fav Flaming Amy’s.
  • The one way to truly torture me was to force me to go grocery shopping on a Sunday in NJ. It was an experience that guaranteed to supply an elbow to the face, poor customer service, ten naughty curse words, and at least two cart-to-ankle run-ins. While Shoprite, Pathmark, Stop and Shop, and Wegmans were the destinations of my Hell…Food Lion, Lowes Foods, and Harris Teeter are the pleasant grocery stops of Wilmington.
  • Finally, one of the saddest losses of living in NJ IMHO were the few happy memories I would have during the Christmas season. One of my fav holiday activities was going to Macy’s and checking out their Xmas department after dropping off my letter to Santa (don’t judge, Santa’s my homeboy). Unfortunately, Wilmington does not have a Macy’s and there doesn’t seem to be any in the neighboring towns. While you can find JCPennys, Sears, and Kohls, the next closest thing to Macy’s is Belk. Sadly, I went there this past Xmas and was highly dissapointed…it just ain’t the same : (

Well, while there are many other things newbies will need to learn about Wilmington, the above list will just have to do for now. Until then, A WARNING TO ALL NEW JERSYANS: If a Cape Fear native offers to help you with your bags, or gives a cheery “hello”…PLEASE bite your tongue and force back the urge to give them the one-finger salute (it gives everyone from the Garden State a bad rep…

unlike the popular NJ-based reality tv shows, Jersey Shore and Jerseylicious, they just make us seem so clASSy).

Kittens and fudge,

YOF