Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Nothing new about driving

As we roll into the part of the year where I have to do more driving, I see all the usual things.

A trip that takes less time feels more tedious.

Driving may be faster, but it isn't instantaneous.

Being in the lane with other motor vehicles is way more stressful than being able to let them go by or thread their tangles on a small two-wheeler. When you're driving, you might go for miles on a bendy two-lane road with some impatient jackass six inches behind you because you're speeding, but not speeding enough. You may impede the progress of some superhero who can see in the dark, or through fog, and wonders why you can't.

You might be on a straight road and still end up tightly followed by some lonely person who wants to be close to you.

Then there's the other side of the relationship: the driver in front of you who does 45 miles per hour for the whole stretch in which 60-plus would be totally fine. This is usually the same driver who continues at 45 once you get into town and the speed limit drops to 30. It's not a good idea, so you can't say it averages out unless you have terrible judgment.

The best driving in driving season is during a big snowstorm. Little snowstorms are dangerous. Big snowstorms are just a pile of fun, especially if the snowbanks have lined the road with frozen guardrails. I don't mean one should let it rip with no sense of responsibility or personal safety. But big storms finally reduce motorist numbers, provide an entertainingly slithery surface and attractive visual effects. It's really peaceful, wallowing along by yourself.

I'm not impatient for snow. It comes when it comes. Sometimes it doesn't come at all. Other times we get more than we need, and at totally inconvenient times, too. Last winter, for instance, our customer base was too buried to leave home, and each major earning period was either wiped out by warm weather (Christmas Week) or buried by a blizzard (every other holiday period).

The car creates a false sense of security along with very real creature comfort that can be downright tranquilizing. I'm glad I don't drive too many places. There are compensations to relative poverty. One of them is fuel rationing. If I don't have to go somewhere, for work or a utilitarian errand, I don't go.

After a couple of months I'll be a pretty typical Type A asshole behind the wheel. I control it, but I can't deny it. That's always been a big reason I keep going by bicycle. I can let out pent-up emotions to the limits placed by my physical condition. When I can get out to flail around the ski trails, that serves the same function. I've even observed that I act like the worst kind of Boston driver sometimes out there on the trails. Pass left, pass right, follow too closely until I get to pass... total jerk.

Knowledge is power. Once the realization dawns I know I have a responsibility to control myself. The metaphor of driving helps there. Be cool, be cool. You gain nothing worth having by acting like a jerk.

The bridge periods are the hardest. I treat the need to flail with bad fiddling and whatever scraps of my old conditioning program I can force myself to perform.


Steve A said...

One other disadvantage to driving - the likelihood of a back seat driver dramatically increases.

cafiend said...

Usually, just saying, "Shut up or I'll kill us all" takes care of the problem.

Lisa James said...

Agree that the two-wheels is a better mode of transportation than cars in a lot of ways. Keep driving defensively, for the safety of everyone.

RANTWICK said...

I like driving when I have a passenger. I see so many wasted punch buggies alone, on my bike, having a recipient for a shoulder punch is awesome.

cafiend said...

@RANTWICK: Note to self: don't hitch a lift with Rantwick. :-D

Steve A said...

I've tried "Shut up or I'll kill us all." I have not found it to be effective, though I have yet to attempt to follow through on the threat.

cafiend said...

Yeah, it's a gamble. Another option is to start screaming about a swarm of huge bats attacking the car.