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Driving Home A Point

"My hostility toward other sentient beings...stems from the willful stupidity, wanton self-centeredness, and rampant incivility of other sentient beings."

The above is one of my favorite quotes from comic's greatest curmudgeon, Howard The Duck.  I've said that Rat in Pearls Before Swine is like my subconscious unleashed.  But not really.  I'm closer to Howard because of one key difference -- Rat seeks to actively exploit the stupidity around him and inflates his sense of self with it.  Howard just wants the idiots to leave him alone as he tries to make his way in the world.

I don't suffer fools gladly.  Don't get me wrong, this isn't to say anyone not as smart as me or who doesn't think like me is an idiot.  I don't have a problem with people who reach different conclusions than I do, because how they reached those conclusions is by trying to make sense of things.  It's the willfully ignorant, the people who feel their own experiences and conclusions are the most valid and don't see the point in considering anything outside their self-centric worldview (and are proud of this willful ignorance), that I hate.

Illinois is one of those places nailed by harsh winter weather.  We had snow and refreezing conditions, making driving anywhere hazardous.  I would love to simply not go, but I have bills to pay and need to get to my job.  Anything else, I ask like the old war rationing slogan, "Is this trip REALLY necessary?"  Life has reinforced one harsh lesson about driving in winter weather -- you can't outrun Newtonian physics.  You lose traction, you are at the mercy of fate, luck, and whatever personal god(s) you hold dear.  I saw dozens of accidents during the freeze last year, when I could only drive 15 MPH on the highway.  I've been in two car accidents in my life, both due to slick icy conditions (the last one screwed up my credit and put me so far in debt, I thought I'd never crawl out, but I've been getting there).  I've seen a truck ahead of me on the highway going straight and suddenly, for no discerable reason, start to jackknife, with me praying my slowing down will be enough to keep me from getting crushed.  That's not the kind of shit you just sleep off.

Just last month, I was taking a back road through a foresty area to get home.  Speed limit 55, I was only comfortable going 40 due to ice and, being a foresty area, the possibility of deer popping out at random intervals.  There was a procession of four cars behind me, and I guess they didn't like my speed.  On a straightaway, the vehicle immediately behind me, a 4X4 pickup truck, pulled to the side to pass me.  Suddenly, the shadows in my car start going crazy.  A quick look in my rear view tells me the truck is in danger of going off the road, spinning out, or both (and had he been any closer when he started, he might have pitted me).  Fortunately, he got the truck under control and pulled off onto the shoulder (presumably to get himself together).  All the other cars were going about half my speed after that.  For a while, anyway.  By the time I got to my turn-off, they were on my bumper again.

Yesterday was another such day.  My car, the Angry Red Dragon, is great.  Based on how it behaves, I can tell what is going on around me environmentally.  Wind, how strong and from where, road conditions, and so on.  I can adjust thanks to the tiny little hints.  I'm heading home along a stretch of highway that had amazing sights.  There are wheel well remnants on the safety median, clearly from an SVU that had gotten wrecked.  I saw one car that took the turn waaaaaaaaaaay too fast -- it actually leapt clean over the ditch and made a four-point landing in the cornfield on the other side.  The Dragon was telling me control would be tricky any faster than 35 MPH, so I stayed there.  I turned on my hazard flashers and carefully made my way home.  Cars would pass, some going just 5 MPH faster, some going 70.  Let them pass, I'm not interested in getting in another accident.

Today at work, a couple of my co-workers come up to me to ask if the red car with the blinkers was me.  I confirmed it was.  One of them actually asked, "Do you have a problem driving full speed on icy highways?"

Yeah, it's called "fear of a flaming death."  Heeeeeeeeere's your sign.

One of them promptly started laughing at me.  "That was you?!?  I had to swerve to avoid you!  You nearly got me in an accident!"

To review:  icy condition, lots of traffic moving only marginally faster than me, and at the point of the road they were talking about, it's a straightaway.  If she was paying attention, she wouldn't have had to swerve to avoid me (actually, I saw no swerving at all, so I think she's exaggerating).  She let me know in no uncertain terms that I should not be on the highway unless I'm driving the speed limit.  So, no highway driving unless I'm ready to risk an accident.  Other people who overheard this said she was full of it, but she laughed them off because it's a highway, not a side road.

Sometimes, I think she's due for a Darwin.  And I refuse to drive recklessly just because she's trying to hit my ego.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 9th, 2010 01:15 am (UTC)
Something tells me your coworker and her "full speed on icy highways" mentality are gonna wind up in a ditch sooner or later.
Jan. 9th, 2010 11:29 am (UTC)
Good squares still available, if you're interested in putting money on it. ;-)
Jan. 9th, 2010 05:37 am (UTC)
As someone who is known to be a speed demon, and drives an SUV that happens to be a 4X4, I can tell you that I was driving 45-50, in 4-wheel high, on Thursday morning. There were people driving faster than me, and people driving slower than me. And that is fine. I've always said that a person needs to spend time with their car and learn from it. A car will tell you what is happening if you listen. A driver needs to learn the cars limitations, as well as his/her/its own. From what I've experienced personally, and from what you've said here, you are one of those drivers.

What bugs me are the ones that can't make up their minds about how they are going to drive in the snow and ice. The ones that will push to the limits of their abilities, only to be frightened into driving half that speed for about 3 seconds before trying to push the limits again. Because they are not travelling at a steady middle ground speed, they are the greater risk. Even travelling ultra-slow is better than a lot of speed changes. A burst of speed often causes those behind you pick up speed to match yours. Realizing you can't handle it and quickly slowing down causes those people who had just sped up to slam on the brakes (which in those conditions is a bad thing). Following that pattern multiple times is just begging for an accident.
Jan. 9th, 2010 11:37 am (UTC)
That's the part that made me nuts. The idea that what is expected is more important than the reality of the situation. Not just reacting to the road, but also other drivers if they suddenly lose control.

This isn't meant for you, but she drives a full-size SVU (which I just know she bought with her hard-earned money. Hell yes, that's sarcasm). People with those in her age bracket seem to gravitate towards stupid behavior. Man is the only animal with the capacity to learn from others' mistakes. Something tells me she will someday be another lesson for me.
Jan. 9th, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC)
Stupid is as stupid does.

Going isn't generally the problem I've found, but stopping? That's a whole nother story.

I learned to drive in winter conditions in Ann Arbor, MI and Green Bay, WI (Yay, Packers!) and I am much more afraid of other drivers around here in Central MO than road conditions.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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