Saturday, August 18, 2012

Caution: Student Drivers Ahead

"Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups"                                                                         - George Carlin

These days I drive.

 A lot.

 No, really.

One of my commutes to work averages about 90 minutes one way (If I get my hustle on), and I do this 2-3 days a week. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know... move closer, change jobs, whatever. Not going to happen, but I appreciate the understanding . Back to the story... So, yeah. I drive a lot. And I get stuck in traffic enough that I'm really tired of quite a few behaviors. When I'm Godpigeon, all of this is different, capiche? 

I know many of you have a long drive everyday as well, so you'll understand more than most when I say "Yo, other drivers? It's just a broken down car, not an alien artifact... keep moving at the pace you just were when you pass it."  Know what I'm talking about? There's lots of other behaviors I can bitch about. Like when a cop has another car pulled over, you can keep going 80. He's not going to run back to his car and call for backup because there's 18 cars exceeding the speed limit. He's good. He caught a commuter doing something and he's a happy cop. He'll write the ticket and know that he helped the state gather another $100 from a hapless driver. 

 Also, when you are one of the 18 cars in a line going 80, please, please, PLEASE don't decide to tap that brake pedal just for the fun of it. Your brakes work just fine, and that sudden, barely noticeable flash of your brake lights will turn a well-oiled machine into a pile of rust and busted cogs faster than you can say "squirrel". That one tiny flash of red makes the other cars behind you slam on their brakes (OMG! What if it's a cop and I didn't see him?"), then resume their previously interrupted speed. This, of course, trickles down the line until there's a string of cars in ALL lanes slowing down, just in case. Traffic is a river. One ripple can change things for miles. Please, don't be that person. 

 When there is a lot of other traffic on the road, it might not be the best time to check your facebook feed. I know, Texting While Driving (TWD) is illegal in many states, but you know that you do it.  I know you do it. EVERYONE knows that you do it. Want to know how? Well, first of all, you go from  80 to 50 in just a short stretch, your head is up, but your eyes are downish, you are smiling as your eyes are down (well, actually, thinking about this now - maybe you are masturbating, so this might apply to MWD, too), and most importantly - you are probably swerving juuuuuust a bit to the edge of your lane before correcting suddenly. If you MUST check that FB feed, wait until there are fewer cars around... please? Beside, we might bump while I'm checking mine, and that would be bad. 

 Let's all learn how to merge when entering traffic from the on-ramps?  When last I was in driving school (30 hours, actually, but let's leave that alone for now), merging meant that YOU adjusted YOUR speed to fit into the flow of traffic, not just plowing into the lane of travel at your own fucking speed.  Merging does not mean that the 3000 other drivers in the area must accommodate YOU and your driving style. It means that YOU figure out how to use that right foot to go faster if you need to, and please watch out for other cars in the lane you are entering, m'kay? And - The breakdown lane is NOT an extension of the on ramp.  Seriously. And trucks can't usually just slide over and give you your own lane - they are generally screwed when it comes to just moving over suddenly. 

 I know it's hard, but if we could ALL just watch the road ahead, that would be great. We are all out there together, and being a douchebag driver, jumping lanes to gain an extra 20 feet, swerving from lane to lane to lane and back again, you know... the Speed Racer Mentality... well, that's gonna be a problem most of the time. See, again, we might bump while I'm practicing for the Indy 500.  I'm not planning on going there, but one never knows when an opportunity might arise. 

 Oh, and please... you. Yes, you. The Ballsack going 65 in the high speed lane? Who the fuck hired you to be the righteous roadblock? Get the fuck over. You need to learn what "Flash - Flash" means when you see it in your rear-view mirror.  In case you were studying for your urine test, it means MOVE! Politely, of course. It doesn't mean I want to wave to you and be your friend. It means that I am going faster than you and you have space to move over. In other words, sweetheart, the party is over so get the fuck out. When other cars are passing you on the right, you are probably in the wrong lane and should take the hint. Really. 

 It's been a trying week. Miles of backup because a drunk was getting a sobriety test.  It's just a drunk. It's not anything special.  If it makes you happy to see that, then stay the hell home and watch Court TV with the other sheep. We're trying to get somewhere. Sigh. To end on a positive note, here's to the folks who take turns out in front of the fast line of cars, and to the guys who let the truckers move over, and to the nice old ladies in fast cars who smile when you pass them... then keep up. 

 Now, is there a little Sammy Hagar out there to listen to?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Things Happen for a Reason...

I'm not a big fan of that way of thinking. Things happen because we make choices. Many times, the choices we make are obvious, other times, they are hidden amid our daily lives. There are always choices.


When we fall back on "Things happen for a reason" it both takes away our involvement in the process. It make us blameless when things go badly, and at the same time it takes away the credit when things go well. Applying the THFAR mentality, clearly it wasn't your own decision to take the more difficult path, so when you succeed, it can't be because you made it that way... it's because of someone else.

So many times, the choices we have are not between a great one and a terrible one, but among several terrible ones. Deciding which of them is the least terrible, and which one might lead to the best possible chance of having a better choice in the next round?  It's up to us. Maybe it's lack of blind faith in the controlling divine, maybe it's my own belief that divinity starts within each of us, or maybe I'm just being a curmudgeon, but I believe that in every case, we are ultimately responsible for our own lives.

I wasn't always this way. I spent so much of my life neither taking the blame nor the credit for my own decisions. It MUST have been 'meant to be', right? My first girlfriend and I were 'meant to be' and that ended badly too many years later. My career choices early on were 'meant to be', as were the choices I made over education, vehicles, living arrangements... so many parts of my life were simply 'meant to be' that when bad things happened, they must have happened for a reason, right? All part of the big plan, I guessed.

But somehow, I came to realize that I was in a bad emotional situation not because it was meant to be, but rather that I made choices in my life that led me to that place.  I made personal choices to remain silent, to be bitter rather than be honest about how certain actions made me feel. I made choices every day - many of them were the same choice - to remain in the current situation or to continue to o nothing to improve my own mental, emotional, or physical well-being.  When I was unhappy with my job, I made a choice to enter into an arrangement that I believed would allow me to return to go to school and complete my degree. I relied on others for my own personal success. No more of that.  These days, I try to make decisions that will better my life. Decisions that will hopefully better the lives of those I am attached to. I try to be the best father I can be. I try to be the best partner I can be to the women I love. I try to be more attentive as a son, and as a brother. An uncle, and a friend.

Things happening for a reason? No. Unless that reason is that I made the choice, or my actions led to the result.  I won't see it any other way.

Not anymore.