Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Interesting Social Experiment

...but not really.

I'm a pretty even-keeled guy. I don't get angry very often. But the one place where I find myself getting angry the most is in the car. George Carlin once said about driving, "Have you ever noticed that anyone going slower than you on the road is 'an idiot'? And anyone driving faster than you makes you say, 'WHOOOA, LOOK AT THAT MANIAC!'" That comes pretty close to describing my attitude toward other drivers. I hate almost everyone's driving except my own. I hate riding in the car with other people. I've been with my wife for nearly seven years, and I'm just now getting used to her driving.

But I'm not a speeder. I'm not an aggressive driver, per se. I'm just very aggressive about other people's driving, because holy hell, people do some mind-bendingly stupid things behind the wheel. And I'm not talking about doing your makeup or reading the paper, I'm talking about stupid, traffic-related decisions. I'm talking about waiting until you're entering an intersection to flip your turn signal... I'm talking about crossing two lanes when you merge and going 15 under the speed limit in the passing lane... I'm talking about stopping 25 feet behind the next car at a light and blocking every car behind you from making a right on red...

...and I'm talking about the assumption that everyone just rolls through stop signs.

Now again, I have been known to do a little California Rolling from time to time, but when I'm coming up behind someone at a stop sign, I don't assume they're going to do likewise. Just try this sometime: For a whole day, make a full stop — you know, the one you're legally required to make — at all stop signs, and just observe the baseless rage in the driver behind you. I did it all day today, and I wasn't a dick about it. I didn't stop for three seconds or anything like that. I came to a full stop, glanced both ways, and went.

Almost to a tee, every single driver's car lurched from having to hit their brakes.

Some people's reaction makes you think they're actually going to come in the door at their house complaining like it ruined their day: "Jesus, honey, you shoulda seen what this a**hole did on Eighth Avenue. He STOPPED at the stop sign. The f*cking NERVE!"

You can accuse me of being a petulant jerk, but let's just step back and take a look at the situation. All I did today was make the same full stop the state policeman had you do in your driver's test. Actually, I probably didn't even do that, because I barely glanced both ways, I mostly just used my peripheral vision. And that was enough to piss people off. Badly.

It just struck me as interesting.

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