It has become a sad fact that people in this day and age have forgotten how to drive oxcarts. In medieval days, anyone could drive an oxcart; it was second nature to those people. But now with newfangled technology like cars and bicycles, oxcart-driving has become a lost art. Driving an oxcart through oncoming traffic is even less practiced. Here is a practical guide for driving through traffic for oxcart fanatics of all ages.
Anticipate. Oxcarts are horrible at sharp turns. Your GPS suddenly wants you to go in another direction? Tough luck; you have to first yank on the reins, and then wait for the oxen to decide whether to obey you or not. And when they do obey you, it will still take a long time. That being said, if you’re driving through oncoming traffic, you have to anticipate the holes in the traffic before they form themselves, so you can steer for them in time. The best way to see if an oxcart in front of you is moving is by looking for drivers who are yanking on the reins and leaning to one side (these are probably trying to turn the direction they’re leaning or yanking), drivers who are cursing at their animals and slapping with the reins (these are also probably trying to maneuver in some way), a driver who looks extremely bored (going straight), or a driver who is climbing off of their cart (he’s probably looking for a restroom, and the oxen will either wander off, making an opening, or sit down, making themselves low enough to be run over by you).
Bully. If you can’t find holes, create them. Holes form in lines if, say, you are driving at the line at full speed. Unfortunately, with oxen this doesn’t work too well because of their full speed (about the same as a man walking). But you can create holes in other, more creative ways. If you need to get past a donkey train, just find the head donkey and frighten it into balking, which will stop the rest of the line. If you need to get past a horseman, just hold your course; the horse can avoid you. Cause collisions as much as possible, because leading experts say that causing collisions is fun. It might not help in most instances, but will it hurt? (Easy answer: No.)
Keep moving. If you don’t go anywhere, you aren’t going to get anywhere. So don’t stop if a four-horse carriage is barreling down at you at full speed; they’re faster, so they should move. If people suddenly begin throwing vegetables at you, don’t stop; if you keep going, you’ll get out of the war zone sooner. If you accidentally run over someone’s dog, don’t stop; you might be able to get out of there before the owners thank you for solving their problem of disappearing food.
Take care of your equipment. Carts may not be smart or fast, but they’re useful. Oxen might be even stupider and slower, and yet you need them as well. Does it help you to have the wheels on your cart fall off in the middle of the road? Since it helps you violate the third rule in this list, probably not. Does it help to have your oxen die? Unless you’re short on food, no. So take care of your cart and your oxen.
Follow these tips on your next oxcart outing, and you’ll do fine. We look forward to seeing you in court being sued.