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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

3 Driving Me Crazies

Just to be clear, this is not an adjunct to the previously published "3 Things Not To Drive" - because after a little reflection and rereading, I realized that it's not just what people were driving that was maddening me, but rather how. As the home of the most regular drivers per capita in the United States, Los Angeles has, not suprisingly, provided me with some of the most profoundly foolish, inconsiderate and utterly inexplicable driving methods that I have ever seen, or even imagined. This is one of those times when I have to whittle my list down to get to three, rather than struggle to find a third, and I expect that my faithful readers will be able to provide many, many more examples. But for my piece, there are the 3 driving behaviors that make me wish slapping people was legal:

1. The Sound of Music. I'm the first person to say "if it's too loud, you're too old." I love my music loud - especially when I'm driving. It is the seminal American driving experience to be tooling down the road with your rock and roll up loud and singing along, with the wind blowing through your hair. That being said, it's also an intensely personal experience (or perhaps a group experience for the passengers in your vehicle). All of the speakers in a car are pointed inward so there is no rational explanation for why I should be able to hear the music being played in your car as clearly as though it's playing in mine. From a physics point of view, this means that even after the sound has been absorbed by all of the absorbent surfaces in your car (e.g. leather, cushions, carpet, people, etc.) it's still loud enough to be heard through my closed car windows - which means that if it hasn't caused permanent hearing damage yet - it's on its way to. This is aural equivalent of running an non-muffled chainsaw on an aircraft carrier deck during flight ops with a Metallica concert going on directly behind you. The chances that I want to hear what you're listening to (especially if you're an Armenian teenager) are incredibly slim. The chances I will think you are cool because of what you're listening to (even if it's something I like) are even slimmer. Hearing Bhangra House music blasted out of a white 6 series BMW with rims that cost more than my whole car being driven by a 120-lb teenager with ill-advised facial hair, an undershirt and a chain I can actually see from the sidewalk makes me want to point, laugh, and weep for the future. Do yourself (and the rest of us) a favor and turn it the hell down. If we want to know what you're listening to - we'll ask.

2. Get Slow, Get Slow, Get Slow. It's hard for me to imagine a life without hurrying. I can't even recall a time in my life when I wasn't hurrying. Whether it was being raised by a military father, spending ten years in the military myself, or simply my own personal and professional drive - getting where I need to go as fast as I can has always been a matter of the utmost importance to me. What's more, it seems as though the world in general is built to accommodate this pacing. Our cars are faster, our highways wider, and our everything is built to save us time between places. Unfortunately, there seems to be a substantial minority of people for whom every road is a scenic route and every lane is their own private driveway. This wouldn't necessarily be so maddening if traffic wasn't such a linear thing - and the rest of us wouldn't be completely at the mercy of these morons. Okay, so maybe you're not in a hurry - why not walk to where you're going then? Or even better, drive between 10 and 2 (when people with jobs aren't trying to get somewhere). And what's with the laser-like focus when you're driving at the posted speed limit in the left lane on the highway? It's obvious you're concentrating - because you obviously can't see the long line of cars behind you, or the constant stream of cars, trucks, and construction equipment passing you on the right. Maybe if driving at these speeds require that much attention - you should stick to surface streets.

3. Rev Me Up. I used to drive a motorcycle, and so I understand the need for cyclists to do everything they can to notify otherwise absent-minded motorists of their presence - because the majority of motorcycle accidents don't result from the cyclists error, but rather from a driver not seeing them. So when a motorcycle rider revs their engine, I know they're letting everyone know where they are. Which is strangely similar to the effect when someone in a car revs their engine - letting everyone know how big of a douchebag they are. Seriously, unless you're calibrating a tachometer or shop testing an engine, there simply isn't another explanation for why you'd be doing this. The last time revving your engine at a stoplight was cool, the Fonz was on in prime-time and school dances were actually called "Sock Hops". Here's the deal, if you've got a fast car, anyone who will care already knows because (a) they recognize your car, or (b) you're driving it really fast. I can only imagine two possible purposes for this unmitigated douchebaggery: (1) you are trying to intimidate other race-minded drivers; or (2) you're trying to impress girls. This is a failure out of the gate - anyone who wants to race isn't going to care whether you're revving your engine or not, and I've never met a woman who thinks this is hot, cool, or makes you in any way more attractive. If you truly can't suppress your desire to stomp on your gas pedal while your car is parked - do us all a favor, do it in your garage with the garage door closed and your windows down.

* * *

I have no idea when driving became the easiest way to spot the least cognitively capable amongst us. I remember the good old days when the driving test was actually something that required more than a pulse and working limbs to pass. For as frequently as it was predicted, we've not yet seen the days of flying cars - and left with only two dimensions, the rest of us will remain hostage to the loud, the slow and the stupid until we come up with a better solution. I used to wonder why older people bought cars that were large, fast and almost completely soundproof. Now I know. The worst part of all is that all of the above-listed offenses are actually illegal, but finding a police officer willing to enforce them is like trying to listen to Justin Bieber singing without wanting to plunge an ice pick into each of your ears. For the time being, these special drivers remain a constant test of one's patience and tolerance, a good reason to start saving money (as the youngest generation is unlikely to be able to provide any retirement income), and a reminder of why you're moving to a smaller town.


Arlene said...

It takes a lot to offend me, but I was actually offended the other day when a douche bag white kid that looked about 12 pulled up next to my KIDS and I, with his "fuck your mother" rap music playing so loug I'm pretty sure God put in some ear plugs. Of course my kids both looked at me like I was going to be able to do something to shut him up...yeah. No.
I worry about tomorrow when I look at the youth today :-/

My #4 for you is people that don't use turn signals. The fact that you're stopped in the middle of 6 lanes of traffic DOESN'T TELL ME YOU'RE TURNING! That's what that handy little lever on the left of your steering wheel is for.
I'm going to start a blinker fluid stand. Idiots.

Jen and Tonic said...

What about people who can't merge? This drives me nuts, and people up here are terrible about it. Everyone in a merge lane drives as if they are in a school zone. I don't know what the DMV up here is teaching them, but it isn't to go FASTER than the traffic on the freeway.

I also can't stand bicyclists on the road. This is also a huge problem here as we are the most bike-friendly city in the US. This means bikers acting as though they own the road- cutting people off, riding your bumper and getting road rage.

Danette said...

Hahaha... Loved it! You know that I already have my own list and blog in the works on this same subject. Maybe someday I will finish it. Stupid, inconsiderate, self absorbed, blind, and simply bad drivers drive me nuts! I could go on for days about this. lol

Anonymous said...

There is this dude that has a motorcycle across the way from my condo. Every morning, when he goes to work at 5am, he revs his motorcycle engine as loud as he possibly can. This is the same guy that parks his motorcycle in a complete car parking spot so that he can constantly have a sopt outside when parking is scarce for guests. One day he is going to be picking up his piece of shit faux-Victory pansy bike up off the pavement.

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