Saturday, January 30, 2010

On the Road Again. And Again, And Again

Miles driven this week: 616
Hours spent driving this week: 11
Times the radio played "Celebrate Good Times": 2
Times the radio played "Lucky Star" by Madonna: 3

I would just like to say that any station playing "Celebrate Good Times" more than once in a week does not so much inspire celebration for the song as celebration for when the song ends.

Although I have only been in Michigan for a few months, I have come to the conclusion that Michiganders are by far and wide the worst drivers I've experienced. Nothing personal to those I know; most of my beef is with the strangers. The used Cadillac-driving, bluetooth wearing, blindly texting strangers. I've had my share of experience with drivers, too, so this conclusion was not reached based on lack of exposure. Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, New York, Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Washington DC---I've been around the block--driving around it, obviously--and you mitten dwellers take the cake. But it's not as though you're all afflicted with one symptom that universally binds you together. Rather, most of you seem to fall into one of the following categories:

The Rebel Driver. Oh, you rogue, you. When you get behind the wheel, you rev your engine and repeat the mantra "No mercy!" over and over again. As you merge onto I-94, you stealthily swerve past those fools driving the speed limit (or ten miles over). You call no lane your home, but rather bob in and out of them--because wherever you have to be, you have to be at in the next 30 seconds or the little girl gets it. I understand.

The Anarchist Driver. Like the Rebel Driver, you are most likely responsible for the chest pains your driver's education instructor now has to take blood pressure meds to control. But unlike the Rebel Driver, you are ever so slightly more calculated in your maneuvers, although these maneuvers fly directly in the face of what the conformists call "the rules." For you, the far right lane is only for passing. Those conventionalists in the passing lane aren't going your speed, and nothing is worse than having to push on your brake to disengage your cruise control. I understand.

The Geriatric Driver, or, alternatively, Captain Oblivious. Where the Rebel and the Anarchist can't wait to push their accelerators into the ground, you not only tend to ride the brakes (just to be on the safe side), but you neither can identify where nor how to use your cruise control. If you did use it, you might mistake it for auto pilot. This name is slightly misleading, however, as this style of driving does not strike only the elderly. In my opinion, it's more a lack of awareness that leads to your driving style. Anywhere but the road in front of you is where your gaze wanders: the field to your left, the roadkill to your right, the floor of the passenger's seat, your fingernails. As a result, your speedometer typically dips to a speed at which the semis start passing you, which makes the Rebel Driver's job of weaving in and out of lanes a bit more difficult. You should not try to cultivate a romantic relationship with the Rebel Driver.

Commander Oblivious. Unlike the Captains, you Commanders are still relatively new to the road, and honing your abilities to pay attention to anything except driving. Your medium of choice? The cell phone. If you're not texting, you might as well be driving. Oh, wait. That's what you're supposed to be doing. Get this thought and any other cognitive dissonance out of your mind soon, otherwise you may never reach the rank of Captain.

Someday people will be reminded that driving is, actually, an active task that we share with thousands of others, and thus, we have a responsibility when we get behind the wheel. But there's no fun in that, so I guess for now, I'll just have to work on my own style of driving, The Intolerant Driver.

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