Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Driving Miss Daisy

I'm the only driver qualified to be on the roads in Houston.

That's a fact, Jack, and you can take it to the bank.

Why other drivers are allowed on the roads without my explicit permission is a mystery. However, I have a theory that everybody needs some practice time and that's what all these other drivers are doing: practicing.

Therefore as a Professor of Driving I would like to make the following observations about my students.

The Tailgater. Obviously, tailgating is no longer taught as a bad practice in driving schools. Most drivers I observe close the gap as quickly as possible and ride, NASCAR-style on the bumper of the "leader". Often you hear about multi-car pile-ups but the connection to Tailgaters has not been made. Obviously.

Le Mans Driver. This is the person who thinks that other cars on the road going along at 70 mph or so are stationary, because the Le Mans Driver is going 100 mph. So, he weaves in and out of traffic at a terrific rate of speed. We read about this driver every week in the obituary column. So and So hit an off ramp at a high rate of speed and lost control...

The Switch-a-roo. This is a manevour in which the driver switches lanes at the last possible moment to avoid slowing down. Of course, it causes cars in nearby lanes to swerve and occasionally the switch-a-roo ends up ramming a stationary object the rest of us were stopping for.

The Cell Phone Argument Guy. This is the person who is having a violent conversation on a cell phone that includes wild hand movements that the other person on the call can't possibly see. This person is also going 35 mph in a 70 zone, weaving from lane to lane. Slowly.

The Mad Guy. This is the person who is behind you flashing his lights and waving around like an ape because you're only going 75 in a 55. If you let this guy pass he will only torment the next person in the lane. This is the kind of person whose final words are "Hey, y'all, watch this!"

Lane Changer. I've found that the middle lane, over time, geologically speaking, is the best lane to be in. It avoids all the people taking exits who slow down for some unknown reason and it avoids all the nuts in the "fast" lane who are, well, changing lanes. The Lane Changer switches lanes every 100 yards because he thinks the "other" lane is faster. It's a false hope because the center lane is the fastest in the long run. Unfortunately, the Lane Changer has the attention span of a flea and "long run" is about 5 seconds.

With all these weird drivers how does one survive? I think the best strategy is to adopt a Zen Driving Mentality. Become One with the Road. Have a good CD changer or plug in an iPod. Zone out and let the bad Karma flow around you. That's my strategy. Mozart cures a lot of ills on the road. Requiem Mass. I recommend it.

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