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This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

I like driving. I like being behind the wheel of the car, putting my foot on the gas on an open road and watching the scenery go by. I like the side roads, the hidden neighborhoods, the brief passage along the paths of other people’s lives.

Of course, I would prefer if those people stayed in their houses instead of driving on the road with me.

We were fortunate not to get any traffic yesterday on our way to New Orleans. No construction to speak of, very few cars for much of the trip.

We got on the road and seven hours later with one stop to switch out at the wheel and one stop for gas, we were in front of our hotel.

So technically I can’t complain. It was probably the easiest drive we’ve done. Still, that didn’t stop people from being stupid and annoying. I mean, when people are involved you can be pretty well assured that at least some of them will be stupid and annoying.

Drivers in particular do stupid and annoying things unique to the road. Inevitably, no matter how easy the drive, even if there is one car on the road, that is the car that will do the stupid and annoying thing.

So let’s not consider this a complaint. Let’s consider it a PSA. For all the millions of people out there who read my blog, I will merely put forward a few ideas for being marginally less stupid and annoying the next time they’re in a car.

Stupid thing number 1: driving at or under the speed limit in the left lane.

I mean, there is a whole highway for this. Pick a lane. You’ve got three other options. Why do people think that driving 65 in a 70 is a good idea at all, let alone doing it in the left lane? You are not supposed to pass on the right, and I hesitate to do it if it can be avoided. I will tolerate a lot of things, but driving slow in the left lane is not one of them.

So now I am forced to do a technically illegal thing so this moron can continue grass-gazing or whatever the heck they’re doing. Seriously, just move over.

Stupid thing number 2: merging onto a highway at 40mph. Do people fundamentally misunderstand the meaning of a highway? Did they never pass their driver’s ed class?

Things are flying at you at high speed, what makes you think it is a good idea to slow down while trying to insert yourself into the flow of traffic? This is especially egregious when the on-ramp is about a mile long with a straight run into a merge. You’ve got plenty of time to get your act together. Please for the love of all things rational, put your foot on the gas and get into the next lane.

Then you can move over to the far left with the rest of the slow traffic.

Stupid thing number three: suddenly discovering the gas pedal the minute someone tries to pass you.

Lots of highways have signs posted that say keep right except when passing. All that means is I spend a lot of time switching lanes, because if there is one lane even slower than the left lane, it’s the right lane. Now I know why there are also minimum speed limit signs. If you can’t drive more than 40mph, just stay off the highway.

But the worst part is that I’ll be behind someone who shows every sign of having forgotten entirely that they are supposed to be driving a car so I’ll move over to pass, except that seems to be the trigger that wakes them up because the guy who was doing 50 in a 55 is now doing 60 and 70 and the next thing you know I have to floor it to 95 just to get past them. You know I’m not losing that one.

Here’s a suggestion: pick a speed. Any speed. Stick to it.

Stupid thing number three and a half: suddenly forgetting the gas pedal the minute you get in front of someone.

As annoying as it is to have someone speed up while you are trying to pass them, it is even more annoying to have them slow down the minute they pass and get back in front of you. Seriously? You went through all that effort to zip around me and merge back directly in front of me so I practically had to kiss your tailpipe and that’s when you decide to slow down?

I really sometimes think people do this just to be jerks. A normal, reasonable person doesn’t behave this way inadvertently, right?

Stupid thing number three and three quarters: speeding up so you can outrun someone trying to merge onto the highway and then slowing down.

I mean, take all of the above and wrap it up into one ball of stupid. If you see someone trying to merge onto the highway and they are already in front of you, how about you just… I don’t know… let them merge onto the highway in front of you?

There is an option to do that. You do not actually have to gun it so you can be sure they can’t merge in front of you, which usually involves getting side by side with them while they are quickly running out of lane. And if you are going to be that jerk, then keep going. Do not hit the brakes once you get in front, satisfied with your victory.

Stupid thing number four: driving up someone’s butt when you can go around them.

If I’m in any but the left lane and I am already driving 20mph over the speed limit, stay off my ass. There. I said it. I am not moving over just so you can keep speeding. There is open road all around, pick a lane and use it. You remember what a turn signal is, right? Jerk.

Phew. That was exhausting. Good thing our drive was easy!

This, of course, says nothing of the stupid and annoying things people do while driving on local roads. But that’s a whole other topic.

Right now I’ve got a couple of Sazeracs calling my name and I won’t be behind the wheel of a car for a whole week. Win for walking.

Photo: on the road with New Orleans ahead of us. It’s all good when you finally get off the road.