Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

26 August 2007

Karma and Car-ma (Or maybe it's truck-ma)

Can't say I believe in karma. It's a nice theory, but I'm not sure it's valid. Except sometimes...

Comedian George Carlin once observed about driving that anyone going slower than you was an idiot, and anyone going faster than you was a maniac. It's funny to think about because it's true. In my experience as a passenger, most guys think that they are driving at the perfect speed and everyone else is wrong.

At night, no matter which speed you select, it's tough to hold it steady without cruise-control. The Interstate highways in the U.S. are typically not lighted. So you only have that little area lit up by your headlights, and nothing in your peripheral vision to provide any speed cues as there are in the daytime. Unless you're constantly staring at your speedometer, your speed will wander up and down. And because it's easier to modulate your speed when there's something to look at, drivers tend to "latch-on" to other cars at night - the groundbound equivalent of formation flying. It's very annoying. And it happens a lot.

Another thing is that It's easy to speed when there is a car up ahead. Pass that car however, and you enter a black hole.

When I worked in the Gulf of Mexico, I used to commute to and from Louisiana every week, always at night. Other drivers would often do this "latching-on" thing. And it would royally piss me off like you wouldn't believe. I could speed up to ninety (this, back when the national speed limit was 65 mph) and they'd stay stuck right on my rear bumper. Conversely, if I slowed down to 45 they would slow down too, probably assuming incorrectly that my (nonexistent) radar detector went off. Eventually they'd get fed up and go around in a huffing downshift. I'd let them get way far ahead before resuming my "limit+9." But within minutes I would catch up to them and the game would begin anew.

It's an interesting phenomenon: Sometimes people don't want to go slower than you, but they don't want to go faster either. I wonder what George Carlin would say about that?

Coming home from my trip to South Florida this week, I was buzzing along on I-10 at my usual 79 mph, minding my own business. The sun had long since set, and it was nice; there was little traffic. West of Tallahassee, a vehicle approached kind of slowly from the rear. Turned out to be a white Ford F-150 pickup truck with a lawnmower in the bed. He passed me, pulled back into the right lane in front of me and then, sure enough, as expected, slowed down. So I passed him, knowing what was going to happen next. You guessed it, he sped up and passed me again. And again he slowed down. There were two people in the truck. They obviously did not have cruise-control and were obviously talking, not paying close attention to the task of driving. It doesn't make me so angry anymore. Maybe I'm getting old. Now I just laugh at the number of idiots/manics there are in the world.

The F-150 and I played that way for a bit. The road was flat and straight and there was no other traffic, and at least it helped me stay awake. But then another pickup truck came roaring up from behind, clipping along at a good 85 or 90, in a bodacious hurry to get somewhere. Mr. White F-150 punched it and left me in the dust; he'd found someone else to dog and together they were going to be making time, baby! I was happy to see him leave.

And along I go, lost again in thought and music, hoping to get home before midnight, deeply pondering whether it's possible that I could become more introspective, and wondering if I should stop and get something to eat or if I'd really had all the junk food I can stand. (I had.)

But what's this? Way up ahead I see the twinkling of blue lights - the cops have someone pulled over. As usual, I don't even bother to kick off the cruise although I quickly catch up with other drivers who've backed off the gas and inexplicably slowed to 5 mph under the speed limit. I come up on the cop car with the offender stopped on the shoulder and I see it is the white F-150 with the lawnmower in the back. Evidently his "front door" did not get pulled over, yet he did.

Believe me, I do not revel in other people's misery or misfortune, nor do I ever wish anyone ill will. Nevertheless, I cannot help being amused. I resist the strong urge to toot my horn a couple of times as I go by.

But I admit that I did chuckle.


Redlefty said...

You're more patient than me -- that stuff drives me crazy.

Our vacation to Missouri was a 30-hour round trip. The "formation flyers" weren't funny anymore after about three hours.

Mark said...

That reminds me of one of my greatest moments driving. After a very long commute, the guy drives all the way up the exit-lane and then cuts in front of me, forcing me to give way or scrape paint (and since he is in front of me, I would be at fault). So he squeezes in and I toot my horn at him. I can see him, he glares at me in his rear-view mirror, then spins around and gives me the universal sign. Exactly at that moment the car in front of him slams on their brakes with the result that he runs right up their bumper while giving me a piece of his mind. I could not resist laughing as I pulled around his hissing/steaming wreck and felt good the rest of the week!

Bob Barbanes said...

Yeah Red, they do get aggravating sometimes. It does take a lot of effort to not get pissed anymore. It's just one of the "pleasures" of driving at night, I guess.

Funny story, Mark! But I hope nobody got hurt in that mess. Me, I believe in defensive driving. And as we all know, the best defense is a good offense. And most people out there consider me to be the most offensive driver on the road. Hey, it works. (Love your blog, by the way.)