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Friday, September 6, 2013

Five Terrible Assumptions We Make While Driving

I love driving. The freedom of the open road, the wind in my few remaining hairs, the power that can only come from a 2004 Toyota Highlander running on two cylinders. What I don't love are the other people and cars which, as you can imagine, significantly hampers my ability to enjoy blasting Winger power ballads while trying to catch air on my street's speed bumps.

I hope this song never ends!

The sad thing is that the road could be a much happier place if we just got over these terrible, terrible assumptions:

5. You are the Man of Steel! 
And by that, we seem to assume that both us and our car are completely indestructible (and, if you're like me, you're also wearing blue tights and underwear outside our clothes). I'm going to leave the slideshow of car accident aftermaths and the subsequent emotional scarring to your driving instructor, but the results of a collision are never pretty. Even low speed wrecks can deliver terrible, terrible damage as cars seemed to have been designed to fall apart at the slightest provocation (as my sideview mirrors will clearly attest to). And yet we drive like we've gotten behind the wheel of a Sherman tank with a Get Out of Jail pass from death itself.

Way better than any golden ticket.

Car accidents kill more people than guns. I could be making that up, but it sounds plausible. And if more people at least considered the potential danger resulting from, say, using the breakdown lane to pass a schoolbus, the road would be a safer place.
And all the school crossing guards could finally retire.
4. There is a medal for finishing first
Humans have a natural need to compete. You see it in sports, in academics, in sex...
He won again!

The same thing happens when we're on the road. God forbid a car should even think about passing me. The moment he gets even with me, I gun it and take off in a blaze of glory, motor oil, and a strange odor coming off my engine block that makes me very, very light-headed. There's actually a few assumptions going on that we (and by we I mean me) need to get past--1) that the jackhole in the Mini Cooper is going to the same place as me 2) That if he arrives before me, not only will he receive a huge trophy and a kiss from a girl with everything but her nipples on display, 3) but he will also get the last [fill in the blank; e.g., parking space, six-pack of Mountain Dew, DVD copy of Son-in-Law, etc.]. Laws of probability aside, the odds of ending up in the same spot as a douche-bag in a Hummer with racing stripes are slim to none and even if you do, there'll be plenty of medals and topless women to go around.

As a follow-up to this rule, try to remember you are not flying the Millennium Falcon. Even if you're driving a Lambo you cannot pull off the kessel run in 12 parsecs. Speeding like a madman is not going to get you to your destination all that sooner.

3. The speed you are going is the optimal speed everyone should be driving
I'm going to borrow a line from George Carlin here, "Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?" We curse at people going slow in the left lane and flick off people swerving dangerously to get around us.

And if that guy with the black and white car and flashing lights doesn't get off our ass, we just might run him off the road!

The fact is that on the road everyone has their own agenda and that, unfortunately, includes only the barest mention of actually driving. Bottom-line--if someone wants to go faster, get out of the way. And if three people pass you, you're in the wrong lane.

2. Other people are robots sent from the future
And by this, I mean we seem to assume that people are completely sentient with a clear mission involving some kind of evil purpose. Which of course they're not. People are stupid. We can't focus on more than two tasks at a time and even then the results are going to be sketchy at best.
I came here to chew gum and kick a-- wait a minute, what was I just saying?

And yet when someone suddenly hits their brakes on the highway, we assume it's directed at us, rather than as a direct result of dropping their cell phone while playing Candy Crush. This can be extended to everything from parking their car over the line, failing to signal, or turning on their washer fluid while we drive behind them. People just don't think like that. At least the non-psychopaths don't. So it may not make you feel any better, but the reason that guy just mooned you wasn't because you threw a lit cigarette in his window, it's just because his ass is on fire.
1.  No one is watching
What is it about getting behind the wheel of a car that we suddenly feel invisible? Like we stop being man and become machine in some twisted amalgamation of Voltron and Bumblebee from the Transformers.
Inside is a little man tugging on his chain like there's no tomorrow.

You're surrounded by windows people. If you're not interested in becoming the butt of someone's potentially viral photograph titled 'Guy Elbow Deep Up His Left Nostril' then try to remember that. This also goes for eating, shaving, masturbating, getting head, smoking a joint, dancing, and cutting yourself. You know who you are.
So remember wake up, get over yourself, and follow these simple rules while driving. Or at least get the hell out of my way!

Jamie Wasserman's road rage is channeled into his writing. Read all the bitterness here.