How to Live Your Life Without Pissing Me Off - Driving

Lordy, lordy, lordy. Where to begin here?

Maybe with a list of the things that humans have no business doing behind the wheel. Like shaving for example.

Now, I'm not an early riser. If by some stroke of bad luck I am forced to get up early in the morning, I try to back time my toiletry tasks and wring every possible moment of sleep from the bed. I'll set the alarm for 8:07 instead of 8:05 if I think I can shower in three minutes.

But I do make sure that I get my stuff done before I leave home. Never have I been so lazy that I convince myself that a smart time saver would be to skip the actual bathing process and just use a couple of wet-naps on the bus. No, your personal grooming should be done in the privacy of your own home.

And just a general reminder that your car has lots of glass windows. It's not private. Other people can see inside. So don't be doing stuff that you wouldn't do standing in the middle of Sear's. Case in point from Hollywood: James Cagney once got a note from a fellow actor that read: "Blue are all the violets. Red is good for roses. But movie stars in fancy cars should never pick their noses."

When I mentioned shaving, you probably thought I meant the guys using their cordless electric razors while they speed in and out of traffic heading for the office. I do. But I've also seen a man shaving with a blade while he cruised down the highway. I swear to you, this putz was lathered up, had the rear-view turned toward him, and was trying not to nick his nostril while he drove past me doing sixty-five.

Okay, so morning traffic never moves at sixty-five, and if it did, you ain't gonna pass me unless you're pushing ninety. But I did see the man shaving. Presumably he'd brought a tiny bowl of water from home.

And speaking of bowls, I've seen people eating cereal... with milk... while they're driving. Sure, I'll just grab breakfast on the way. That's fine if it comes in a tortilla or on a bun, but don't drive while you're trying to scarf a short stack with boysenberry syrup.

Now, I know there are those namby-pamby poodle walkers out there who are probably thinking "you shouldn't be eating while you're driving at all." Ten and two. Ten and two. Yeah? Bite me. It's a busy world we live in, and just because you don't have a life, granny, doesn't mean that I always have the time for a sit down meal.

But folks, there are some foods that are made for driving, and there are some that aren't. Chili- bad driving food. Spaghetti- no. A good rule of thumb is that anything that requires a utensil should not be eaten while you're trying to steer with your knee.

We all have driven with our knees. At least all guys have. Unless you're under five two, maybe. Here's a shocker, guys tend to be less than safety conscious sometimes. In fact, when I was younger, several of us would keep track of how far we could drive without touching the wheel. In parts of West Texas you can do it for hours. My personal best is ninety-seven miles. But I've heard much better. So my point here is that I'm not going to go holier than thou over driving with the occasional knee. Just do it wisely.

Your driving foods should require only one hand, leaving another hand free to actually operate the vehicle. Most of them come from a fast food joint unless you made a sandwich before you left the house. But be aware that not all fast food is good driving fare. Fried Chicken is a no-no because you get the steering wheel all greasy. Then you can't make that controlled swerve when you need to. Hand traction is vital.

Pizza is generally not good behind the wheel when it's hot. It tends to drip every once in awhile. Drippy food is not good. Neither is a sandwich that has shredded lettuce. Subway- great sandwiches, bad for driving. When bits of your meal drop into your lap or on the floor, that natural tendency is to look down and find them. The only concern in your life becomes "This is a new car. Where's that damned olive?" In case it never occurred to you before, let me bring it up now- looking down while you're driving isn't good form.

So what is a smart driving food, you ask? One of the best is the Quarter Pounder with Cheese. That bad boy is virtually welded together with gooey American. You can wave that thing around like your average cheerleader with a pom-pom, and nothing is coming out of those buns. On the burger, not the cheerleader.

Do I even need to mention make-up? Apparently I do since over half the women on the road at any given time are making that damned eye-liner face with their mouth oddly open and looking in the rear-view mirror instead of watching the road. Why having your mouth open makes your eyelid any straighter, I've never figured out. But the point is that if car manufacturers had intended for you to turn that rear-view towards you and touch up your face, they would have put tiny footlights and a magnifier on it.

Curling irons. I've seen many women driving down the road while curling their hair. Quit it.

I've often thought that there must be gender specific messages that subliminally pass only to women in certain situations. Why else would I keep getting turned down before I've even opened my mouth? One of the locations where these hidden missives pass is no doubt at stop lights. Red light equals open your purse. It doesn't matter if there's anything to be done in there or not. You're stopped, so grab a mint, some lip gloss, balance your checkbook, do something for God's sake or you might accidentally be paying attention when the light turns green and actually drive through it. Look up, lady. It's green! Go!!!

Even more disturbing than all that extra-curricular nonsense behind the wheel is when people act like morons and don't even have an excuse like "I was digging for change under the seat". This group of lame-os is just stupid in general.

So I'll lay out some ground rules.

  1. If there is an open lane to your left when you pull up to the stop light, and you intend to go straight, move over. The twenty-seven cars behind you all want to make a right turn on red. There is no cross traffic in sight, and all we see is time a-wastin' while you stare straight ahead and probe for anal lint.

  2. These large signs that you might have noticed on the side of the interstate that say things like "Slower traffic keep right" or "Minimum speed 45" do not have an addendum on the bottom that reads "except for you". In fact, you're precisely the jerk they're talking about. It is not up to you to stop other drivers from surpassing the speed limit by acting as a rolling road hump. You are not cops.

    And that applies to those overly kind hearted souls who take it upon themselves to personally control traffic flow by stopping to let each and every driver trying to cut in or across the busy street go in front of you. If you'd just keep going, we could clear out all that traffic, and the person could get in behind us. In other words, just because you have nowhere to go, the car behind you might. And the car behind you is ME!

    Oh, and that goes biggest for putting a stop to the slimy, arrogant bastards who sail along in the other lane knowing that they can cut into the long line of traffic at the last minute. Knowing that some timid skirt-wearing she-male will stand back and let them in. Well I got news for you. It is your God given duty as an American to stay on the bumper of the vehicle in front of you and keep these cheating scumpots from cutting into line. We've all been waiting to be in the correct lane for a mile and a bloody half, so they're not getting a free ride. Do you hear me? I'm talking to you.

  3. Deep breath. Now, keeping that in mind, that doesn't mean that if you're three car lengths back you have any right to speed up and cut me off. How many times have I had some jerkwad cut in front of me to make a right turn? Then when I look behind me, there's nobody. Tumbleweeds blowing across the highway. Deer grazing on the center stripe. But this guy had to be in FRONT of me to make his turn. Patience, my friend, is a virtue… in everyone except me.

  4. Just because your seat reclines waaay back, should not obligate you to drive from the fetal position. One thing to keep in mind here is that there is often a fine, fine line separating cool from dorkily stupid. If all I see is the top of your bony head peeking through the spokes in the steering wheel, you look stupid. Don't try to compensate by driving forty on the freeway. Just sit up straight, pop some speed, and pretend you're a trucker. Those guys are cool. Put your tattoos to work.

  5. If whomever made your vehicle thought putting some device on the thing was a jolly idea, try using it some time. I'm speaking of things like your seat belt, or, I don't know, YOUR FREAKIN' TURN SIGNAL!!! Snap out of it, slack-jaw. There are other cars on the road. You can't just weave between, across, in and out of lanes on a whim. Lose your paranoia for a moment and grab on to the realization that the only people who would see your signal then speed up to keep you from changing lanes are losers like yourself. So if there's anyone you need to worry about, it's likely a close cousin and/or spouse. In other words, signal your damn turn and sort it out at the family picnic while you're lounging around the shallow gene pool.

  6. If you happen to suddenly awake from a little driving nap and find yourself in the turn lane…here's a thought…turn! My guess is that at least several of the good folks who've lined up in the turn lane behind you actually made a coherent decision to be there. And speaking for the lot of us, how should I put this delicately? We don't give a rat's ass that you have made a mistake…TURN!!! We're not going to sit there behind you and watch the light cycle through because you are a complete and utter moron. No, this just might be as close to a valid defense for road rage as one might find. So keep that in mind when Michael Douglas gets out of his vehicle with a sawed-off.

  7. Just because you happen to be in a parking lot doesn't mean that all bets are off. Don't park in two spaces, either on purpose or by accident. If you're purposely trying to protect your new ride, chances are damn good that most of the borderline juvenile delinquents driving past your parking fortress in some beat up AMC Javelin can't wait to let their key slide down the side of your new Porsche. You just can't buy respect anymore, much as you'd like. And if you just don't know how to park, then my simple advice is don't park. Just leave the dealership and keep circling the block until whatever you wanted to buy at the store comes out of the mall on its own accord and hops into your hatchback.

  8. One other little parking lot bon mot: those lines are slanted because the all seeing striping guru intended for traffic to flow only one direction down that given lane of spots. When you ignore that because you are a totally unworthy arrogant snot, it causes problems for others. That's why I prefer to just stop, blocking your incorrect approach to an open spot, get out, lock my car and go shopping. Sure it might inconvenience others, as well as you, but I think I'll have made my point.

So the general overview that I'd like to leave you with before I go double dip into the Prozac bottle is to ask you to think back to your kindergarten report card. Not much to grade. But one of the boxes filled with a minus on yours no doubt read "Works and Plays Well With Others?" If I ever get the chance to design a grade school tally sheet, that category will become "Likely to Drive Like Crap and Ruin Everyone Else's Day?" Now lie down on your blanket and take a nap.