Subjective Objectivism and Road Rage…

A recent incident got me thinking about how ones emotions and perceptions affect ones Judgment on the road. Now I will readily admit to being a bit of a lead foot, and this often puts me in a unique position in terms of how I view traffic, as I tend to always be one of the faster vehicles of the road.

However even from your Sunday driver perspective, the reactions of some other drivers make no sense to me. Here’s one (out of numerous examples) of what I’m talking about.

So I’m moving along in the passing lane, going by a string of cars moving slower than I, when I encounter an SUV, just cruising in the passing lane. Now, as I stated before, I’m admittedly a leadfoot, but I’m not entirely inconsiderate. This vehicle is not moving particularly fast, but there are cars in the lane to this drivers right, and so I just hang back and wait for the driver of this humongUV to have an opportunity to move over to the cruising lane. About five minutes later, this SUV clears the cars to the right, and comes up on a stretch of road with no other cars for about half a mile ahead.

Now In my mind, I’m thinking “OK, now this driver should move over to the right, and let me pass.” Not necessarily because I think the driver should be able to read my mind, but rather because the shoulder of this particular highway is sprinkled generously with “Stay right except to pass” signs. Now common sense would dictate that a driver, confronted by a quarter mile of empty road between them and the next closest vehicle ahead, and repeated confirmatory signage, would move to the right, right? You would think so wouldn’t you. Except I wait for about a minute, then two, (maybe even three) and…

Nothing. No blinker, no attempt to change lanes, not even a glance to the side. After a mile or so of cruising like this, I’m beginning to think this driver is zoned out or something. Nonetheless, we are coming up on another group of cars, and not wanting to spend the rest of my life stuck behind Miss Daisy’s driver, I decide to pass this vehicle on the right. Now here’s where the fun begins.

As soon as I signal, get into the right lane and start to accelerate to get around this massive canyonero, it SPEEDS UP!! And no, I’m not talking just a little faster. I’m talking pedal to the metal, “Pass me over my dead body…” speed. Now for a second I’m a little perplexed. Then, seeing that we are rapidly approaching a body of vehicles, my lead foot instinct kicks in, and having a much faster vehicle, I simply gun it and go around the rapidly accelerating hulk of steel.

Now perhaps I cut back over into the passing lane a little closer than this driver would have liked, (I don’t think I did, however I’ve learned that perceived safe passing distances to be a subjective thing), or I somehow inadvertently upset this drivers paradigm of the universe, or maybe being passed just didn’t sit well with this driver, but their reaction thereafter was… I’ll describe it as… very intruguing.

Because as luck, (or my lack thereof) would have it, we were stuck in a clump of cars with a similar Sunday driver in the lead, and Mr/Mrs. Canyonero took to tailgating me to within six inches of my rear bumper for the next few miles. Because clearly, I had passed unsafely/cut them off, and this driver felt that I needed to be taught how to drive safely. Eventually I wearied of this game, and threaded my way through every little nook and cranny I could find in traffic, knowing it could not follow, until I was clear of the irate steel monster…

Now here’s the question. What is it with the “lane hog” mentality? I fail to understand this. If you want to drive at 10mph below the speed limit, by all means, do so, but why sit in the passing lane while doing so, and impede all other traffic who actually would like to drive at the limit? If you all go look at your drivers manuals, you will realize that the far left lane is a PASSING LANE, NOT a DRIVING LANE.

Why then, do people guard the left lane as if their very lives depended upon it? Is it so difficult to stay in the right lane until you need to pass? And even if you are passing other vehicles at a good clip, if the next vehicle is a good quarter mile ahead of you, must you sit in the left lane until you get there? Does it take that much effort to change lanes?

And perhaps the most perplexing behavior are those who cruise at some constant (but relatively low) speed in the left lane, but suddenly accelerate to prevent you from passing if you try to pass them on the right! In the name of all things good in the world, what is your malfunction? If you want to cruise at Xmph, then cruise at Xmph, I certainly won’t hold that against you. And while annoying, I can see (sometimes) where it does make sense to stay in the left lane.

But if you cruise in the left lane, with no other cars to your right, and a string of cars behind you, and you fail to understand why you need to move over to the right, you NEED remedial driving lessons. Or a wet trout to the face. Whichever would be more effective. And if, in the stated scenario you decide you need to actively and aggressively prevent another vehicle from passing you on the right, then you need both remedial driving lessons and COUNSELING.

Why? Because honestly, If you do all of the above, you have got to have some rather serious issues.

Now I’ll also mention that, on most roads, moving out of the way of vehicles that are moving faster than you is not only a common sense act of courtesy, in many places, it is the law. Not that I place much stock in the validity of all of the laws of the road nowadays, but people constantly cite the speed limit as the reason why they should not have to move over. I hear things like “I was driving at the speed limit, so anyone who wants to pass me will be speeding, so nobody should need to have to pass…”

LOL What?

Seriously, if you are worried about people obeying the law, then you need to obey the law yourself and move over, you little hypocrite…

And perhaps the most irrational actions come from those who go into full “Road Rage” when people who try to circumvent thier inconsiderate (and illegal) road hogging behavior, in the only way they have available to them. Passing on the right.

Now I understand that for some folks, ones car is considered an extension of their home. And as a result, people tend to treat road incidents like they have been accosted in their own living rooms. Well, let me point out a few things to remember.

First, If you truly, honestly feel like your car is an extension of your home, then you should fully expect that everyone else feels the same. And hanging out in the left lane is the equivalent of making everybody else wait in line for the bathroom. Treat the left lane like the bathroom.

Do your business and get the heck outta there as fast as you can. If you don’t you should not be surprised or angry when people start banging on the door. If you are, then you are fully admitting that you are being a selfish, inconsiderate jackass.

Here’s the reality check: Even if you consider your car an extension of your home, you also just so happen to cruising your mobile La-Z-Boy on public roads that you have to share with everyone else. Stop acting like the road is there for your use alone. I have a tendency to speed, I will admit that, but I also stay out of everyones way, avoid tailgating as much as possible, and generally try to be mindful of the needs of other drivers. And If I see someone moving faster than I, I get the heck out of their way, regardless of how fast they are going. In fact it is in your best interest to do so. Any other mentality is simply foolish.

Honestly. If you are one of those people who consciously just cruise in the left lane all the time regardless of what’s going on, you are an inconsiderate jerk. And if you are of this ilk, and also actively and aggressively attempt to deter any attempts to pass you, then you are a jerk who needs some serious counseling…

What kind of kids are we raising?

I think that America, as a culture, we have started down a long slippery slope towards self imprisonment. We are stripping away from ourselves the very freedoms we hold dear. I see it every day. Even in some of the most innocuous things:

On the playground of a northern Colorado Springs elementary school, tag is not “it.”

The touch-and-run game and any other form of chasing was banned this year at Discovery Canyon Campus’ elementary school by administrators who say it fuels schoolyard disputes.

“It causes a lot of conflict on the playground,” said Assistant Principal Cindy Fesgen. In the first days of school, before tag was banned, she said students would complain to her about being chased or harassed.

Fesgen said she would hear: “Well, I don’t want to be chased, but he won’t stop chasing me, or she won’t stop chasing me.” – [The Colorado Springs Gazette]

Is this what we want our kids to do? How do we expect our kids to learn anything about people and life, if every time they run into a problem we ban it wholesale? How are they going to learn how to deal with each other? Learn how to handle people and their idiosyncracies? When will they understand that not everything is going to go our way, and that not everything is under our control?

And even worse, how do we teach those kids what they can and cannot do? How do we teach kids that you cannot harass someone just because? Banning tag isn’t going to teach that. All this teaches them is if you don’t like it, get it banned. No tolerance, no patience, no  understanding. Nothing else will be learned by this action. The playground will have one less game, and the children will have one less avenue  to learn about others and themselves.

 Nationally, several schools have done away with tag and other games because of the accidents and arguments they can lead to. It’s a trend that has rankled some parents and childhood experts who say games such as tag contribute to children’s social and physical development. – [The Colorado Springs Gazette]

Apparently, even childhood experts can see the flaw in this way of thinking. And yet we have schools, communities, cities, states and even federal legislation that allow exactly the same thing to happen on a national level. What’s the betting that this is all fueled by the same mentality? People don’t seem to be able to see the big picture. It may sound like an unlikely slippery slope, but at the rate we are going, sooner or later, we will legislate ourselves out of our own personal freedoms.

Believe it or not. Your choice. But I have seen enough insanity to tell me that it’s possible. I can only hope we either come to our senses, or I’m not around when we finally lock ourselves in and throw away the key…

Springs elementary gives tag a timeout – [Colorado Springs Gazette]

A nation of finger pointers…

In writing this blog, I learn things about people and life in general that I might not have had I sat blissfully ensconced in my own world behind this monitor. I find I think about things a lot more if I have to write about them.

Some of the conclusions I end up with sometimes catch me off guard. Like I realized today that we are, by and large, a nation of hypocritical finger pointers. Conflicted blame shifters. Flip-flopping fault finders. Myself included. Well I’m a conflicted finger pointer, dunno about the rest ;)

Let me explain. I came across an article today about Americas opinions about texting and driving:

Ninety-one percent of Americans believe sending text messages while driving is as dangerous as driving after having a couple of drinks, but 57 percent admit to doing it, a poll released Tuesday said. – [Reuters]

Now my math is not exactly known for it’s infallibility, but by my calculations, that would mean that at least 48 percent of the population are texting while driving, all the while advocating that it should be banned. 48 percent. Forty-Eight.

Now doesn’t that seem strange to you? That almost half the population of the United States of America is engaged in a practice they believe should be illegal? And this occurs while completely sober? Here’s another example. I recently came across a message board where some unfortunate sap got caught for speeding in the wee hours of the morning on an open stretch of deserted road.

He came to the board asking for legal advice. He got his advice, but not before enduring some scathing remarks about breaking the law by a few other folks on the board and, apparently, an active law enforcement officer. To his credit, he tried to explain that he attempted to pick the safest optimal conditions for his “speed run” however one particularly vigorous poster immediately flamed him to death for “breaking the law”.

Now I ask you: how many of those people do you think have never broken a law before? How many have gone just that little bit over the speed limit because they were late? Hogged the passing lane doing 5mph under the speed limit, while a line of increasingly irate drivers grew behind them? Had a cellphone conversation while driving? Took a pen home from work? Put on makeup/did their hair on the road? Ate lunch on the road? With a burger in one hand, a shake in the other, and a knee on the steering wheel?

I could go on, but I think you get the point. Nobody is perfect, but everyone insists they are better than everyone else. Everyone likes to be able to point a finger at another and say “He/She broke the law! That Idiot! That imbecile!”. The guy who decided to speed in the safest environment he could think of, (and actually consciously thought about it before doing so) gets flamed, while people are talking on cellphones and texting in the middle of traffic on a busy highway (without a second thought for safety) is somehow culturally more acceptable?

Whose actions are more irresponsible? Do you think the law adequately addresses the more dangerous action? My opinion: (like I have to actually say it) No! The law isn’t perfect. You should see some of the silly laws that have passed (some are still on the books!). And more to the point, people aren’t perfect. The fact that I can effortlessly find enough ludicrous stuff to talk about here, on a daily basis, is testament to that.

We all want compassion, mercy, and tolerance and yet we are so reluctant to show anyone else the same. We blame everything for our problems, TV, video games, guns, sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, frequently each other. But never ourselves. We are so quick to point a finger at everything/everyone else. But we always ignore the three pointing back at us. We suck. Big time. Epic Fail. I wish there was a reset button on this game…

Nine in 10 Americans say ban texting while driving – [Reuters]

The “Hello Kitty” police!!

Unruly members of the Bangkok Thailand, police force are soon to become a part of an unusual brigade:

Thai police officers who break rules will be forced to wear hot pink armbands featuring “Hello Kitty,” the Japanese icon of cute, as a mark of shame, a senior officer said Monday.

Police officers caught littering, parking in a prohibited area, or arriving late — among other misdemeanors — will be forced to stay in the division office and wear the armband all day, said Police Col. Pongpat Chayaphan. The officers won’t wear the armband in public.

The striking armband features Hello Kitty sitting atop two hearts.

“Simple warnings no longer work. This new twist is expected to make them feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense, no matter how minor,” said Pongpat, acting chief of the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok. -[USA Today]

HA! I’d like you all to give a warm round of applause for the “Hello Kitty” Brigade!! I am totally enthused by the number of creative disciplinary measures that I have been seeing lately. And this one is a doozy.

I mean what better deterrent is there than for a tough, macho Thai police officer to have to parade around in public with a hot pink “Hello Kitty” arm band on their arm, with hearts and everything!! I’m sure their adoring public with absolutely love it!

I love it…!

Bad Thai cops to endure Kitty shame – [USA Today]

The Internet is NOT JackA$$ protection…

The Internet is a great thing. It has brought people from diverse cultures together in ways that could never have even been dreamed of 10 years ago. And I believe that one of the reasons that this has been so positive is the ability to communicate without the racist, sexist, or plethora of other cultural barriers that tend to automatically (and often subconsciously) rise when dealing with people with different backgrounds on a face to face basis. The Internet tends to anonymize us, forcing us to deal with others as they are, not as we assume they might be.

However as with everything, this anonymity also has a down side. There are those who, emboldened by the safety of the computer screen, tend to become more disrespectful, rude and insensitive, and are more likely to mouth-off than they would had they been engaged in a one on one conversation with someone in real life.

[Begin: Rod Serling from”The Twilight Zone“] :

Allow me to submit, for you consideration, a story of two men, and two computers, connected by naught but over 1330 miles of combined copper and fiber, whose virtual conflict transcended the bounds of the virtual world, and ultimately ended in incarceration and flame:

A Navy man who got mad when someone mocked him as a “nerd” over the Internet climbed into his car and drove 1,300 miles from Virginia to Texas to teach the other guy a lesson.

As he made his way toward Texas, Fire Controlman 2nd Class Petty Officer Russell Tavares posted photos online showing the welcome signs at several states’ borders, as if to prove to his Internet friends that he meant business.

When he finally arrived, Tavares burned the guy’s trailer down.

This week, Tavares, 27, was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading no contest to arson and admitting he set the blaze. – [Yahoo/AP]

These two men, as a result of their insensitivity and lack of respect for each other, each paid a terrible price, in spite of the gulf between them, perhaps proving that, even in an age of circuits and virtual interaction, there is still a place for tolerance, courtesy, respect and consideration for our fellow human beings.

More importantly, it is hoped that all will heed the lesson in this: That the Internet is no protection against idiocy. Even here, In The Twilight Zone…

[End: Rod Serling Impression]

Man burns down trailer in online feud – [Yahoo/AP]