Sunday, 31 January 2010

Road gritters and the unappreciative Irish motorist

A couple of months back, The Sunday Times described this blog as “satirical”. Mark Keenan referred to it as such in his excellent column when writing about “Comical Ken” McDonald’s (once plentiful) upbeat pronouncements on the moribund property market.

Now, while it was great to get a mention in the paper, the sad thing is that the blog is perfectly serious, not satirical. All the stories on Gombeen Nation – mad and all as they might be - are frighteningly real. Or what passes for reality in Ireland. Here’s an example, inspired by the return of the cold weather.

You know the poor buggers who drive the gritting trucks, and get up at all hours of the night/morning to make the roads as safe as they can, given the limitations of our Keystone councils? It seems that they have been on the receiving end of motorists’ bile while gritting the roads to keep the very same bilants out of the ditches/shrubbery/lamposts.

Irish drivers - possibly the worst in the world - don’t like it when confronted with a road gritter up ahead as they blithtely skim along the icy motorway, in the overtaking lane, on their mobiles, smoking a fag, stuffing a breakfast roll into their faces. No, they get quite abusive, in fact.

The Tribune recently quoted one such grit truck driver and supervisor, Lucas Swiatek, saying “I get an awful lot of abuse from motorists… I would see them sticking their fingers up at me and swearing at the top of their lungs, or beeping their horns because they have been hit by some of the salt." On one occasion the man was surrounded by five motorists, all shouting at him.

Things are so bad, that the company he works for, M50 Concessions, has had to advise its staff how best to deal with ignorant motorists who plainly don’t know what’s good for them.

Maybe the gritters should just pull over and let them race ahead into the next very hard, unyielding object, via a patch of black ice? 

We can just call it natural selection.

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Anonymous said...

It may seem hard to say they deserve to skid & have a nasty accident, but I agree,the gombeen ignorance of some people on the roads is just incredible. it makes you fele embarrased to be Irish, .it's true what the German ambassador said a few yrs ago, we are a coarse people obsessed with money. People here seem to think they have a divine to drive cars like dodgems and be obnoxiosu on the roads, ...and that's not even mentioning the down right dangerous driving: Even whaen I mention at work, at work,that those who don't have a proper licence should not get on the roads, I get blank uncomprehending stares and ...''Sure how are you meant to learn how to drive then ??" Anna

Anna said...

I often think young Irish males take moronic American teen movies quite literally as I think in the '80s I did hear of a fatal crash where idiots were mooning out of windows...and recently I read of a rally driver touring schools to talk about differences between ordinary cars and rally cars..because amazingly some of these young thicks think you can get in a an odinary car and then tear about as tho it is a rally car. we often just need to grow up as a nation

The Gombeen Man said...

Hi Anna.

Yes, I was being a bit provocative about the natural selection bit! But you really do have to wonder about these people. My biggest fear in weather like this is that the road hasn't been gritted. The idea of abusing the road gritters when they are out is mind-boggling to me, given that one of the most important skills of a motorist/motorcyclist is being able recognise and account for hazards. Obviously these people don't see ice as a hazard. What can you do, except give them a wide berth?

Yes, I remember those remarks of the German ambassador, and I thought he was spot on.

Ella said...

Hi GM, the Irish and driving... now you've gotten me started!

Anna I had people moon at me in 1984 when I had a Vespa, I was travelling from Galway to Dublin, all 19 years of me in my mod gear and mod form of transport, these guys thought it was great crack mooning out the window at me, needless to say their already dreadful driving then got downright dangerous.

Nowadays I have a Subaru Outback and it never ceases to amaze me how many males (and it always but always a male) who think that their excellent driving skills can more than compensate for the fact that I have a faster car. The Outback is rather a nippy motor (well for an estate car) whose 0-60 is about 8.8 seconds. Invariably these young males will be driving a fiat punto, they have no more than a couple of years driving experience, are quite possibly on provisional licences. But they still think that their excellent skills can more than compensate for the fact that my car has a bigger engine. No matter that they are driving a punto, whose 0-60 is not measured in seconds but rather on a calendar. Men..

Natural selection.. yes I love that! No need to be obnoxious to somebody who is doing their job to make the roads safer. That's the Paddy Factor, is anybody aware of it happening anywhere else?

Anonymous said...

Just to put things in perspective a bit, have a look at the EU stats for road deaths per million population

Ireland could improve, but Spain, Portugal, Italy & Belgium (who knew?) are worse, and the Eastern Europe figures are shocking... literally!!!

Our stats here in the UK are 2nd best but sadly this is because we spend so much time in traffic jams.

Max, London

Anna said...

Gritters have always bene common in the north, but hurling abuse at them? Never heard of it. This acitvity is in the area of How! Do! You ! Even! Get !Round ! To ! thinking! Of it! (Never mind Doing it)…
I went into town on my usual bus 2 months ago, to meet a friend at cinema and was to get off at Parnell Sq. Was early and thought I’d go on to Mount joy Sq (last stop) , see what it looked like at night, and walk back. But the driver told me this was the last stop (Parnell sq) – it was 9.30 pm and he said buses did not go to Mountjoy Sq from Seven pm onwards- due to fear of stoning. Just off the main st of an EU capital …even 7pm is unsafe.
Just like in End of World movies like ‘The Road’ and ‘I am legend’…pockets of savages hiding out in some areas develop when civilization breaks down. The wider issue is simply you cant totally blame the underclass- the Government here makes damn sure they’ll never know any better…their ‘Love the rich’ policies created a big underclass- and then there is no money either to get them out of it. Both here and the UK often have a shocking underclass compared to the rest of the EU- but at least the UK can see this is a problem… this government doesn’t. Anna

Anonymous said...

Mad. Where else?

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Anon. Yes, eastern European countries have very high fatality rates, as does Greece. I think the state of the road network is a huge factor.

@ Ella. Nice wheels. I can't imagine this happening anywhere else... I know it didn't when I was working abroad.

@ Anna. Yes, getting stoned in Dublin is somewhat different to say, San Francisco. It's like an urban version of Deliverance!