It’s easy to spot the bad drivers.
You’re cruising down the highway, minding your own business, and here comes Speedy McNoTurnSignal . He’s three lanes to the left, but that won’t stop him crossing all three lanes because he needs to exit right now and to hell with you if you’re in his way. Or you’re making your way through a parking lot, you know, attempting not to his pedestrians and to navigate the labyrinthine painted lines (I mean, does it take any qualifications at all before they let you design parking lots? The ones near us seem like they were sketched in crayon at the asylum), when you spot FancyCar McSlappyPants. Fargo the lines, says SlappyPants, I’m going my own way like the car commercials tell me to, as he rips across the lot at 45 mph. Or you’re driving home from the grocery store, trunk full of ice cream and popsicles for the hot summer months, and damned if you’re not caught behind another Faceless One of the Legion of the Brakes. She’ll mosey along the two-lane roads between the store and your house, somehow making all the same turns as you and stopping for an inordinate amount of time at every stop sign, her speed never exceeding — except on those brief and blessed downhills — ten miles below the posted speed limit.
An old adage comes to mind: everybody going faster than you is a maniac, and everybody going slower than you is an idiot.
Regardless of how the bad driver is breaking the law/social decency contract, the root of bad driving seems to stem from one thing: selfishness. It’s more important that I exit right fargoing now than that I let these poor bastards know I’m about to do it.
But just as big a problem — maybe even more of a problem, depending on the situation — is the opposite problem: rather than considering not at all the other drivers on the road, you also have a breed that considers the other driver too much. This is a guy who will brake in the middle of the road, stopping the flow of traffic at a busy intersection, to allow in the poor sap trying to make a left out of that one place that you really shouldn’t be making a left out of to begin with. Or who will come to a full stop on a neighborhood road — cars behind him and all — because I’m approaching the crosswalk with my kids in the stroller and I will cross the road in about twenty seconds. Or who actually observes the yield sign and lets people in when they have the right-of-way,
To that guy, I say: STOP BEING SO NICE.
I get it. You want to be decent to your fellow man. You feel for that guy. Nobody’s going to let him in. You want to make sure the bald dad and his kids can cross the road in peace. (He’s had it hard, after all. Just look at that hairless dome. He deserves a break.) But in “being nice” to me, you kinda make me into the jerk. Because now I have to hurry up to take advantage of your niceness. Or if I can’t hurry, then I’m the jerk who just takes his time while you were trying to be nice.
So. Stop being so nice. Embrace the same bit of common sense I’d recommend to the lunatic drivers. Sometimes you have to let the other man suffer a little.
“Really, Pav?” I hear you remark. “You’re complaining now about people being too nice on the road?”
*shifts uncomfortably in seat*
“I mean,” you continue, “aren’t you really just looking for things to get upset about at this point?”
*stares out the window*
“For that matter, aren’t there any number of actual, legitimate issues and problems in our society that you could ramble about for the few minutes you could’ve been writing about this crap?”
Yes. Okay? Yes. In particular, I can’t even open a browser window for the last week without getting slapped about the face with news of truly horrible, deplorable human behavior. This Stanford rape case and the collective internet outrage. That gorilla died, and the collective internet outrage. Trump is still a raging idiot lunatic, and collective internet outrage.
I just wanted to think about something else for a little while.
And then I went out in the world and people had the gall to be polite to me.