I lose what little sanity I have left every time I’m behind the wheel.
Ten years ago I got a speeding ticket for going 55 in a 30 past a police station. My bad. I’m thankful for that though, because I learned in the mandated driver safety course that police only target motorists who speed in excess of 11 miles over the limit. From that point forward I’ve driven ten miles over the posted limit, no more, no less. Life is too short to go 30 miles an hour and I really wish everyone would incorporate this philosophy into their subroutine. As a result, I’ve become more aggressive when driving than I was to begin with, and I was pretty angry before that particular ticket (which is not to be confused with the citation
I got for going 50 through a 30 mph school zone in the summer).
I scream at people in front of me knowing full well that they can’t hear me. I have entire one-sided dialogues with them whether they know it or not. I get that from my mother, who (fortunately for everyone else on the road including passing deer) retired from driving fifteen years ago after a long and illustrious career of vehicle-totaling mishaps that were usually her fault. If I’m stuck behind a slowpoke for five minutes I will pass them out of spite and give them the ‘Thumbs Up’ gesture when we make eye contact. Giving people the middle finger when driving is now officially passe’. It is no longer fashionable. I was a passenger in someone’s car when they gave a neighboring driver the Thumbs Up and loved it instantaneously. It’s insulting, sarcastic and really conveys your dissatisfaction in the quality of their ability to operate a motor vehicle. Shaking your head at people in disgust is good too, but you have to make sure that they see you doing it. I usually pair my Thumbs Up by verbally telling them (or mouthing the words) ‘You’re doing a great job!’ I don’t have road rage. I have road psychosis. I am not a patient man, even less so when I’m trying to get somewhere in an expedient manner, which just so happens to be all of the time.
We’ve all taken the same permit test when we were kids so we’re all on the same page with the notion that the fast lane is located in the left hand lane. That’s an established rule of infrastructure, right? As a result, I am infuriated by anyone’s flagrant violation of this rule. Same thing with turning signals. We all have them. We all know what they do. So fucking USE them. And try using them for longer than a quick blink right before you turn. I blow my top when people are going under the speed limit and cars to the right of me are lapping us. I don’t have any desire to street race or show off my car’s ability (or inability) to go from 0-60 in five seconds, but again, ten miles over the speed limit is legally acceptable, so why wouldn’t you do THAT? These three things short circuit my brain. I flip my shit. I lose my mind.
What’s really challenging for me these days is self-censoring my automotive hate speech in real time for my son. He’s at an age now where he repeats everything he hears and that’s no bueno. All it took was one blasphemous obscenity parroted from the back baby seat before I started making a concerted effort to alter my snappy insults for an All Ages Audience.
‘Move it, F&$K-face!’
-has turned into:
‘Move it, Yo-Yo!’
‘Real nice, you @$%&*!#ing c*&%$#-s#%&ing m@#$%er-@#$%!’
-has been replaced with:
‘I need to get to work, Yo-Yo!’
That is my new go-to when Little Pitcher is strapped into his miniature regulation seat behind me. The last thing I need is reports from Day Care or (even worse) his mother that he’s demonstrating and reciting a College-Level swearing proficiency. I need that like a yo-yo-ing hole in the head.
There’s a small risk that what I’m about to say is controversial, but I’m going to say it anyway. If you’re over the age of 60 and you can’t drive the speed limit, use your blinker or remain within the clearly marked boundaries of any one lane while puttering forward in a straight line, do the rest of us a favor in three easy steps:
1. Pull over to the side of the road.
2. Dig a shallow hole.
3. Climb into it.
Again, that may not be the most politically correct viewpoint, but it’s mine and I’m going to own it. Old people should get the Ever-Loving Yo-Yo off the road. Most of them. And stay off. Furthermore, if you’re going to buy a Buick, be the one person who doesn’t perfectly illustrate the stereotype. Drive faster than 32 miles an hour during rush hour traffic. Use your turning signal to tip fellow travelers off to the fact that you’re going to cut through three separate lanes because you forgot where your poop doctor was located until the last minute. Buy some sunglasses that don’t make you look like Cyclops from the X-Men. That’d be a good start. Or if you don’t fit this demographic, buy a Buick and prove me wrong.
Navigating traffic is a combination of simple math and prejudgement for me. If one lane out of two has forty cars to my immediate front, I glide into the other lane. Statistically, more cars equals more people driving slower than Mr. Magoo on Quaaludes, so the lane with the least cars is least likely to contain idiots. Or more likely to contain less idiots. The fast lane isn’t always fast, and it’s less likely to be fast if there are forty cars ahead of you. If I see a school bus, a garbage truck, a Buick with a miniature mummified corpse operating it, an F150 truck with a short bald guy driving it or especially a minivan (a vehicle and subculture of driver I’ve written about at great length elsewhere) I get into the other lane.
Does everyone with an F150 truck have a quarter inch cock or just the guys? Why does every gargantuan ginormous truck owner have to be a four foot bald man packing a shriveled and flaccid Vienna sausage? Why is that? The simple answer is overcompensation, and the simplest solution is typically the correct one. I see more F150s in Buffalo than you would reasonably expect and it makes no sense. I have never seen anyone in Buffalo using their oversized truck to scale the side of a majestic mountain like they do in the commercials. I have never seen anyone in Buffalo hauling half a forest full of logs in their sterling silver flatbed. I have never spotted a ‘Hemi’-powered vehicle maneuvering through a mud-caked field in some grand off-roading excursion adventure getaway.
What purpose does it serve to drive a gas guzzling behemoth? Is your pee-pee so small that you can’t bear to leave the house unless you negotiate a step-stool or repel into the cavernous cab of a truck? Do you have so much disposable income that you need a higher monthly payment on the vehicle that gets you from Point A to Point B? Do you enjoy hanging out at the gas pump so much that you need an excuse to be there more often because your motorized carriage flash-fries fossil fuels? I’m not a carbon footprint worry wart, but show me any practicality behind that buying decision because I can’t find it. Why is it always a tiny bald guy with a chip on his shoulder driving a truck or a silver-haired septuagenarian hunched over the wheel of a Buick? That’s either brilliant marketing on the part of automotive manufacturers in targeting their core demographic or a case of life imitating stereotypes.
I’m not a ‘car’ guy at all. I have a visual deficiency whereby they all look like boxes to me. Literally. I couldn’t tell you a make or model by looking at it to save my life. They are mostly steel carriages that transport us from one spot to another in my mind, no more, no less. They are holes that we dump money into until they reach the point where they’re more expensive to repair than they are to replace. That’s it. I don’t even wash my car anymore. I used to take it to the car wash once a year when I got my tax return, but I don’t even do that anymore. It’s not that important. Passengers have pointed out that I need to clean the inside of my windshield due to excessive tar buildup and I quit smoking a year ago. I cannot change my own engine oil. I have no interest in learning how. I’ve seen the steps leading up to changing a tire, their sequence and the reasons behind them, but probably couldn’t do that either if the scenario presented itself.
The last time I popped a flat, my girlfriend came over and changed it for me. This is how inconsequential cars are to me. So I don’t grasp how many grown men have created a culture out of classic cars, muscle cars, souping up their cars, souping up their sound systems, racing their cars, working on their cars in their garages and so on and so forth. One of my best friends is a car guy. He even works at a car dealership. We never talk about it. On the occasions that it crops up in conversation, my brain glazes over or taps out until he pulls me back into it. I cannot identify a piston, a carburetor or a flux capacitor in a lineup. I don’t know what they do, nor do I care. We’re from two different worlds, but we still get along. It would probably make for a good sitcom pilot that no one would ever watch.
I’m trying to become a better person, but my driving persona will be the last aspect of my psyche to get an overhaul. All of my worst character defects are on full display like a dashboard hula girl with Tourette’s. Presently, I’ll take a partial progress grade of Thumbs Up.