Chances are I drive more than you do.
Last year I put 40,000 miles on my car. This makes me especially touchy when it comes to shitty drivers, a description that can encompass a wide-range of people.
By my limited perception, I drive “normal.” 5 mph above the speed limit, cruise control on, right hand lane unless I’m passing.
Not everyone follows these simple courtesies, meaning there are generally three drivers I hate above all others.
First off, those who speed up and slow down for no discernible reason at all. When someone passes me, pulls into my lane and slows down, forcing me to pass them, it’s mildly irritating. When this process repeats itself several times over the course of ten minutes, I find myself happy I don’t own a gun because chances are they’d find shots fired across their bow.
(Or into their tires.)
Then there are the slowpokes in the left-hand lane. I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that in 2015, people don’t understand that the right lane is for driving, and the left lane is for passing. When I come across someone piddle-farting their way slowly down the left lane I wish the most horrible ass cancer upon them.
The final albatross around my neck is the person who drives exactly the speed limit, or a painfully-slow five miles under. There’s nothing worse than being on an archaic, 2-lane highway behind one of these jackasses. Twenty cars can be lined up behind him, car after car can pass him when able, and he still won’t pull over and kill himself to make life easier for the rest of us.
I’ve always wondered who these clueless people are, or if that is, in fact, the case. My hope has always been that they’re unaware, but I suppose there are some bizarre sociopaths out there driving like ass-cactuses for their own amusement; people who laugh as they watch us lose our shit, our anger their fuel.
The neat thing about life is that sometimes you have questions that get answered. By that, I mean I was lucky enough to spend time with a driver who had no business being behind the wheel of a car.
The backstory: I had to fly into a city, where the kind soul of another comedian would pick me up and shuttle me to our gigs in his car. From the airport to the first gig was odd, but not unsettling. The drive wasn’t too far, there wasn’t much traffic, and while he did a few odd things, nothing really set off my “Are you kidding me?” sensors.
It was only as we drove 6-hours to the second gig that I got a full whiff of the stench of his driving abilities. He was, best to describe, the most kind, clueless, fellow ever. I really liked him as a person; I fully believe his license should be revoked.
To start, the man lived in the left-hand lane, attached to it as if they were soul mates. Next, he used no cruise control. His speed would vary anywhere within a 10 mile-per-hour range. One moment he’d be making good time, the next several angry drivers would be passing us on the right, middle fingers held high or fists shaking. I looked at them through the eyes of a documentarian; “Hey, that’s me. I see me in those other drivers.”
He would change lanes without signaling, and would slow down if a traffic light was green for “too long” and might turn yellow.
(Which, of course, meant that by the time we got near the light, of course it was turning yellow.)
To lessen the collective anger level of the world—as well as to protect my own well being—when leaving the second gig and returning 6 hours to the airport, I asked if he wanted help driving. This was an offer he took me up on gratefully.
While I drove, I almost wanted to interview him, to ask, “Do you notice how we’re in the appropriate lane? Does it feel OK to you to be in the correct lane? See how this button I pushed keeps the car at a consistent speed? Does going a consistent speed bother you?”
As we traveled, I discovered he wasn’t too in tune with this own vehicle. I had to teach him how to turn his high beams on, and he had no clue what an odometer was. We had stopped for gas, and I asked him if he wanted me to trip it. He stared at me blankly, then noted in a confused voice, “The car is already running.”
“Yes,” I responded, “I know. But do you want me to reset your travel odometer?”
He had no clue what I was talking about, and it was only then I actually looked and saw both his trip and regular meters were exactly the same. As a comedian, he should have been keeping track of business mileage, but that wasn’t a part of his process.
After five hours, we stopped for gas and it was time to trade places; he would once again be the captain of his own ship, so to speak.
Upon pulling out of the gas station, he started to exit the wrong direction, taking us further from the highway rather than back to it. I had to correct him, and point us the right way.
Arriving at the highway, he almost hit a cement barrier, then attempted to take the wrong ramp, sending us back to the hotel, not onward to the airport. Again, only my pointing out the right onramp saved us from an unnecessary journey back whence we came. Five long hours I drove us without incident; he was behind the wheel for 30 seconds and had already made three mistakes.
Still, I was somewhat willing to forgive his cluelessness until right before the end of our trip. We were on a completely empty 45-mph four-lane road at 3am; a traffic light was 75 yards in the distance. At that traffic light, a dedicated lane existed for people turning onto the highway. So, if someone was at the cross road, they could safely turn right and have without having to merge.
Which is exactly what started to happen. When we were roughly 50 yards from the light, a car at the crossroad turned on to our road and into his dedicated lane.
Without warning, my clueless companion was so panicked he slammed on the brakes, throwing a “Mom Arm” in front of me for protection.
I was almost too stunned to respond.
As he released my chest, I noticed his eyes were wide and his breathing heavy.
I laughed, saying, “You’re a very jumpy driver, aren’t you?”
This gentle tease was an affront to his abilities.
“I’m a defensive driver,” he corrected me, obviously offended.
I damaged my optic nerves rolling my eyes.
We eventually arrived at our destination without any loss of life or damage to other vehicles, and I boarded my plane…
…and now I’m torn. Generally, my road rage is directed to people I know nothing about. Maybe they’re driving slow because they have a newborn baby in the car. Maybe they just brain farted and forgot to signal their lane change that one time.
Or, maybe they’re like my new friend, someone I can really like as a person, but who should be taking a driver’s license test monthly.
Will I hate shitty drivers from here on out?
But hopefully I understand them a little better now.