Friday, January 29, 2010

I Am not an A**hole

...and I would like to keep it that way. There are two kinds of a**holes: those who do things, and those who are overly fanatical in opposing those who do things. There is no one more annoying than the person who bothers you for not believing what he didn't believe 5 minutes ago. To be more intellectual, I'll paraphrase Neil Postman who says that any belief that is too closely held, one that excludes tolerance for others, may result in "psychopathic fanaticism."

This is part of the reason I write this blog. I can blow off a little steam and also temper my thoughts so I don't become psychopathically fanatical. I keep reminding myself:
  • I used to drive like they did.
  • They have important places to go, and I'm slowing them down.
  • Some of those places are very, very important, and if I were in their shoes (late for a job interview, trying to be on time for my kid's birthday party, rushing to the hospital to see a dying relative, etc.), I would be just as annoyed at the slow-poke in front of me.
  • It's easy to be distracted and not realize how close you are getting to the car in front of you.
  • Driving 25 m.p.h. in a 25 zone feels totally unnatural and takes a lot of practice.
  • Driving 25 m.p.h. (or even 30) feels really really slow even when it is the speed limit.
If I had more time, I'm sure I could keep expanding this list, and I might in future posts. Just to summarize, I have to constantly remind myself: Don't be an a**hole. If you see that on a bumper sticker, remember, it's directed as much at me as it is at you (for the record, I don't have that on a bumper sticker...yet).

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Next Car Will Be a Mercedes

OK. That's not true. It's a big step up in price and step down in mileage from my current car (a Toyota Yaris), but I have two more data points (in my totally meaningless and unscientific report on driving behavior). This morning I was following two Mercedes at different points in my drive. That's right, I was actually behind other cars. This almost never happens unless there is congested traffic. But today, I got behind a Mercedes on my 40 m.p.h. stretch and actually had to slow down a couple of times so I wasn't tailgating. It was great! Then the Mercedes didn't make the same turn I did, but I got behind, amazingly enough, another Mercedes on my biggest 30 m.p.h. stretch. This Mercedes didn't make me slow down, but it didn't get far ahead of me. I was in heaven (even with the Saturn SUV--I used to drive a Saturn--on my tail).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ridge Riding

I've been checking out some hypermiling groups. I've always been somewhat fascinated with hypermiling, but I'm not trying it, and I'm not driving the speed limit to save on gas. One technique someone suggested in one of the groups to avoid people getting angry with you is ridge riding. The basic idea is sto sit on the white line on the edge of the road. There are some reasons why it will help you get better mileage and might make people think you are having trouble and feel sorry for you instead of angry. But it seems to be best left to the highway (where I have the least trouble with angry drivers). On the narrow roads I drive to work, there doesn't seem to be a ridge to ride most of the way.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Road Rage

I was flipped off on the way home yesterday so I have been thinking about road rage. OK, being flipped off is the mildest form of road rage, but it is still road rage. I keep thinking about the feeling of anonymity in the car. The guy who did it, I'm sure, thinks of himself of anonymous. But when he flipped me off, how did he know I wasn't his doctor (I'm not a doctor) or his kid's teacher. We're within a couple of miles of my house (and probably his) and chances are that we'll see each other again.

I've been in a hurry and annoyed by the slower person in front of me (even now, there are occasionally slower people in front of me). Usually, it happens when I'm driving to class, and I'm later than I would like to be. But I always imagine if I flip someone off, it's going to turn out to be one of my students.

By the way, I didn't cut the guy off or drive slower than the speed limit. He was behind me for most of the way home through roads that were 30 m.p.h. (where I was going 32) and roads that were 40 m.p.h (where I was going 42).

Sometimes this anger gets to me (that's probably why I'm writing a blog that no one is reading), and I think I should drive a little faster. Then, this morning I hit a slick spot on the road (not the same slick spot where I had my accident), and I was very thankful that I was going the speed limit. I'm pretty sure I would have lost control if I had been going 5 m.p.h. faster; even at 30, it wasn't easy to keep control on this slick spot (black ice from the warm daytime temperatures and the below-freezing night time temperatures). I'm almost certain that someone else is going to hit that same spot this morning and wipe out. I guess I should start looking for that person's blog tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'm just one car

I remember something like this being on the news when I was in sixth grade.

Cadillac vs. Mercedes

Yesterday, I had two different luxury cars behind me for most of the way to work: a Cadillac and a Mercedes. The Cadillac sat on my tail as close as it could get, but the Mercedes stayed a safe distance behind. I saw it coming in my rear view mirror. It was going a good 5-10 m.p.h. faster than I was, and I was fearing another tailgater. Then, as it started to get closer, it slowed down and stayed a comfortable distance back. Another totally unscientific data point in favor of Mercedes drivers.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Almost no tailgaters

Yesterday, I almost made it all the way to and from work without any tailgaters. I just had one on my last stretch to work for about a mile or two. Other than that, driving was blissful (and none of this was highway driving).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Benefits of driving 55 - not

One of the benefits of driving the speed limit is not having to worry about speed traps. I can just drive on by without worry when I see a police car on the side of the road...theoretically. Today, I was driving along the highway right at 55 (in a 55 zone), and I saw a police car and instinctively hit the breaks. So much for this extra benefits.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Scary Close

We got a dusting of snow last night so I thought the traffic would behave...I was wrong! I had the usual tailgaters, but one Ford pickup truck was scary. He didn't pass me, but he was as close as he could get without actually hitting my bumper; it was scary. When I turned and he didn't, he went around me so closely that I thought he was going to scrape my car.

The only humor was when we got an intersection, and I turned on my blinker, I watched him shaking his head, doomed to follow me some more. It was even funnier that, in this case, he really couldn't go anywhere. When I got to the intersection, the line of 5 cars that I had been following was sitting at the stop sign. When he passed me, most of that line was still a few car lengths in front of me. Sometimes, you can get ahead by going faster and sometimes you can just annoy yourself by trying.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Passed by a taxi

I could see it coming. The taxi wasn't just the average tailgater. He was itching to get by, and he did...right at the spot where I had my accident. Visibility is low, and the curve is deceptively sharp, but he went by anyway.

I was also tailgated by a Volkswagen, Honda, Toyota, and Lexus. I'm not sure what make of car was keeping a safe following distance, but she didn't stay behind me for too long, turning off somewhere.