We All Just Get Along?
the Divine posed this question almost 15 years ago and its
just as relevant today.
in the United States are atrocious. Obliviousness, incompetence
and deliberate passive-aggressiveness make the experience of getting
from a to b unpleasant, stressful and more
time-consuming than it ought to be. And more dangerous, too.
New laws are
not the answer. We have enough laws already. Theyre mostly
counterproductive laws, too such as those which assume everyones
inept because some are inept, such as no right on red
needed is something more organic and spontaneous. Something that
could be subsumed under the heading, common courtesy.
you an example.
literally, every single day I find myself stuck behind another
driver who is not only traveling much more slowly than I am but
also more slowly than the posted speed limit. This is on my 35 mile
trip into town (we live in the boondocks) on a two-lane
road (one lane each way). It is a not-busy road and the slow-mover
ahead could easily pull off onto the shoulder and let me (and other
faster-moving cars) get by. I often do this myself when I am coming
back up the mountain in my old truck, the bed loaded down with stuff.
In my opinion, you have to be a PhD Dickhead to deliberately block
traffic and force others to proceed at your pace. Why not
just pull off to the side? It only takes a moment and defuses
a tense situation (for all parties) immediately.
Yet this simple
act of common courtesy is scarcely seen at least, in my experience.
People will see you back there and still refuse to pull off/over
and wave you by them. I find this startling. People generally
dont just stand in your way at a store, for instance
knowing you are back there and purposely blocking you from
getting to something you want. Usually, theyll see you there
and oblige by moving over enough to allow you in. Often with an
oh, excuse meor sorry added for good measure.
But put some
of these same people behind the wheel of a car
How about this
You are approaching
an intersection to make a left turn. There is a car ahead of you,
not turning but blocking the left turn lane. You notice theres
ample space for this driver to pull forward enough so that you can
squeeze into the turn lane and make the light. But the PhD
Dick who sees you just sits there. What conclusion
can one draw from this? The only explanation that comes to mind
is that the blocking driver is enjoying this small exertion of power
over you. He is getting his kicks knowing that he has prevented
you from squeezing by and making the light.
Oh Brave New
World that has such people in it!
But the thing
that amazes appalls me the most about all this is
not the DMV-grade malice, the low-rent sadism on display. Its
the pointlessness of it all. Common courtesy comes at no cost to
you and (provided others behave courteously in return) ends
up redounding to your benefit. Consider the example of the refuse-to-yielder.
How does it harm him to allow you to get by? His travel
is not impeded and if anything, his trip should be less stressful,
since he no longer has a tail of other cars hanging off his bumper.
If everyone, as a matter of reflex, gave way to faster-moving traffic,
how swimmingly how civilized going for a drive
behave like silverback gorillas only without the silverbacks
courage, because at least a silverback will actually confront his
opposing silverback in person (so to speak) while the typical Cloverite
passive-aggressive American driver will simply use his car
to make his point.
you stop to think about it, this pattern repeats on other levels,
such as the political. Most people would never threaten their neighbor
with violence in order to force him to give them money. Yet the
will routinely casually vote in favor of doing
precisely the same thing, only by proxy. They lack both physical
and moral courage to steal, but provided it is called something
else and done by someone else, then its ok.
same with road manners.
Well, we need
a wake-up call and a remedial lesson, too. Nothing good comes
of theft or being a PhD Dick behind the wheel, either. You
may think youve got the upper hand, that youve taught
them a lesson but in fact all youve succeeded
in doing is ratcheting up the Hate, and that will come back to bite
you in the ass one day, too.
with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.
[send him mail] is an automotive
columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2011 Eric Peters
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