What Drives You Crazy?

car


When I think about it, I have spent a great deal of my life behind the wheel of a car. In the past, I have driven through every state in the union and enjoyed the experiences tremendously. Now, driving anywhere is a hassle. I tried to figure out why it is that I liken this formerly pleasant activity to a case of shingles, and it struck me as I made a right turn at a traffic light yesterday. The answer: Mr. Evans.

Mr. Evans ran a mandatory program at my high school teaching hundreds of kids over many years to drive safely. In those days, we learned on standard transmission. In fact, I have never owned an automobile with automatic transmission. Mr. Evans drilled certain concepts into our heads that have all but disappeared from the knowledge base of the general public. We had to downshift to second gear to make a turn, not clear the corner on two wheels. Directional signals were mandatory, even if no one was around. Stop signs were more than visual suggestions. I am certain his course saved countless lives. Yet today, ask most Millennials and they will tell you Driver Ed was a talking horse.

All this focus on driving is prompted by my recent observation of violations of the most basic rule of the road: Keep right except to pass. This week, I started categorizing drivers on the roads we travel with an eye on the fast lane. Of course, as always, I remain politically correct.

The Q-tip

This is the elderly person, usually female, who renews her license every few years by mail, but should have given up driving when she renewed her pledge to save copper for the war effort. She earns her name because her head does not clear the steering wheel, so when you observe her from behind, it appears that a cotton swab is operating the vehicle. Whether she exits a driveway, a supermarket, or a shopping mall and heads for a major highway, she zips immediately into the left lane and maintains a safe 25 mph. She feels safe there because there is never anyone in front of her.

The Old Man with a Hat

This gent enjoys driving more than most. To him, a car is like a recliner. He sits back, puts on a blindfold, and cranks up Rudy Vallee CDs on the Bose. The hat makes it possible to block out the world around him, so he heads for life in the fast lane, flips on that Cadillac cruise control, and locks into 30 mph. Don’t bother flashing your headlights or honking your horn. This rocket man is going nowhere without contacting NASA.

The Young Stupid

This scary creature has several weeks’ worth of driving experience and is ready to maintain his “cool” image. You could be on the autobahn going 50 miles over the limit, but that’s not good enough. No matter what your speed, he is cooler than you. He knows what “fast” means because he got that word right on the high school spelling test. He hits that passing lane at Indy 500 speeds and is on your ass in five seconds. Mr. Evans taught us that a minimum safe distance between cars is one car length for every 10 mph. Ask the Young Stupid and he’ll tell you one car length. Speed is irrelevant because at his age, he can’t tell the difference between “cool” and “cold” (two words he got wrong on the spelling test).

The Work Van Driver

This is the guy with the ladder on top of the van on his way to the next job. Many drivers in this category are actually safety conscious and perform quite well. Yet, there are those who plaster the bumper stickers in several places on their vehicle asking the question, “How’s my driving?” Of course, we all know the answer is “You drive like shit,” but he knows it is his duty to block that left lane with the blazing speed of an octogenarian because nobody can see past him and his painted windows. Besides, if he moves any faster, he might have to work.

The DUIC

This is the person who helps the rest of us realize the right lane is safer than the left. He or she is Diving Under the Influence of a Cellphone. Whether talking or texting, these folks will eventually rap you in the rear, but you figured out that it is better to get rear-ended at 30 mph than 70. Now, you might think this person would check the insurance statistics to discover the odds of an eventual crash, but there really is no need. Today, it is up to you to purchase uninsured motorist coverage so when the fool with minimum coverage at best destroys your quality of life, you will have enough money left over to buy him a new cellphone when he sues you for being in his lane.

The Beauty Queen

This is the woman who envisions her car as a purse on wheels. She is late for work every day, which leaves her only one option – put on the make-up while driving in the fast lane. This takes skill. She has mastered something Mr. Evans never even dreamed about in his nightmares. She is an expert knee driver. It is not easy to manipulate a bristle wand with one hand while applying mascara, holding on to the coffee with the other hand, and using the third hand to occasionally flip the ashes from one’s cigarette, all while cruising the passing lane. Once she learns to steer with her knees, it’s a snap. Of course, on days when the toenails need painting, she offers to drive her girlfriend to work providing the friend operates the brakes.

There are many more examples to discuss. These habits are shared by the young and old and rich and poor alike. Poor training does not make one a bad person. Even our President stays as far left as possible, regardless of the risk. I do not intend to demean these people. They are not totally useless. They can always be used as bad examples.

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Comments

  1. Yes to all, but you forgot one, The BMW driver. They are all in a class by themselves. Tailgate and weave they do it all. i reserve my best uni-digit salute for these ass holes!

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    1. Joeh: That is funny. I had that as a category and left it out because they violated so many rules I would need to start another blog!

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  2. JJ, I don't think they offer Driver Education in the schools anymore. I spoke with my ex's kids, because one is 17 and one will be 16 in a week. The only thing I know is that the state of GA mandates that a person get a permit for a year before being able to take the driving test. When I asked about taking a Driver Education class at school I got silence (probably accompanied by a dumb look, but we were on the phone, so I can't be certain of that). Now if you wait until you're 18, you can forgo the permit and move straight to the test portion of this driving disaster. However, I don't think the law requires anyone to actually learn to drive before taking said test.

    As for my personal experience... I can't tell you how many near misses I've had in the last couple of years. In one case, a car with a young person came up on me going 60-70mph in a 45. I was in the far right line of a 6 lane road that is usually very busy. Lucky for me, not this day. There was no one in the other two lanes. I watched in my rear view mirror as he came right up on my bumper (in horror, sure that he would hit me) before he decided to swerve/pass me, lost control of his vehicle, spun around in a circle, and the rear of his vehicle (after he'd gone 360 degrees) smacked into the rear of the SUV in FRONT of me. All the while, I was braking, and cleared the accident without incident. I felt so sorry for the person in the SUV. They couldn't have avoided that accident in any way, and I KNOW they never even saw it coming. Just WHAM. They were getting hit from behind (by an idiot).

    Unfortunately, idiocy abounds and each time you get in the car you're taking your life in your hands. So, unless you live for DANGER, driving isn't they joy it once was. You're not alone.

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    1. Robin: I try as much as I can to stay off the interstate roads. That's where 70 mph means 100. Can human beings devolve?

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  3. Thank you so much for the laugh!

    One more category: The I'm TOO Cool Motorcyclists. You can spot these because their motorcycle handle bars are gorilla style, as in placed at ear level which makes the vehicle very difficult to control. These riders often wear little safety gear beyond a skull cap style helmet. The fashion includes wearing shorts, vests, tank tops, flip flops. These riders can barely make a regular turn and can often frustrate drivers behind them by speeding on straight lanes and slowing to a crawl on curving lanes.

    Once again, thank you for the laugh!

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    1. A-M: I know exactly what you mean! I used to ride and never could figure out how they handled those bikes.

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  4. Ah, too many to talk about...but the one I'll never forget is the driver reading his newspaper...I avoid the highways whenever possible.

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  5. I've been behind every one of these characters! Back a while, they ticked off my road rage, now I time my driving errands. Ten after nine, on the tail of the morning rush hour, I can eliminate the make-up artists, the little old ladies and men, the repair guys and the high school kids. All I have to contend with are the phone people who can't never be alone. The afternoons are a lot more tricky. I rarely schedule any appointments then. If ever I have to, I plan the ride home before the high school lets out. The kids around here are the worst! Bats out of hell! I do not mind semi truck drivers; time is money to them. My biggest peeve is cars that didn't come with turn signals. Most of them are pretty pricey too. You'd expect that equipment was included.

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    1. Linda: That is the first I am hearing of this. Directional signals are not standard in all cars? Wow! I am glad I spend more time writing and less time driving.

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  6. You covered quite a few of the road warriors who make driving such a (cough!) joy. How about the lane weavers? In and out, swooshing from one lane to another, cutting other drivers off left and right, just so... what? They can get where they're going five whole minutes sooner? (In Atlanta traffic, that's about all it gains.)

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    1. Susan: You're right. They all belong in my rant.

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  7. Oh my as sad as it is that we truly do have these exact drivers on the road every time we venture out, I still can't stop laughing. Excellent post.

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    1. Karen: Humor is what keeps me going.

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