Monday, June 06, 2005

Carpocalypse Now.

First Rule of Driving: Anyone traveling slower than you is an idiot. Anyone traveling faster is a maniac.

I’m going to say something now that may shock you to your very core.

I am a man, and I am a really bad driver.

Ok, I’m maybe not quite that bad. I’m a safe driver and can get to point B from point A…Unless of course that journey involves any reversing for more than 10 yards, parallel parking, or any maneuver that is not in the “left or right turn” category.

You see, my problem was I passed my test (On the first attempt… I have no idea how that happened), and within a few weeks my mother traded in our stick shift for an automatic. Then in an effort to save money to come to the USA, I didn’t buy a car, and bought a motorcycle instead (Ok, ok, it was a 100cc scooter…not so much a Hog as a Piglet).

Moving to the US completely screwed me up. Imagine what it’s like to Change from left hand drive to right hand drive…when you haven’t driven a car, especially a stick shift in years.

Oh, it was fun…

On my first attempt to drive in the USA, I Started down the road, looked out of the side window looking for the mirror, put the window wipers on looking for the cigarette lighter…then opened the door and fell out of the car while trying to change gear.

It’s a good job my 10 years as a Ninja taught me how to tuck and roll.

Of course, the wife carried on in a driverless car at 70mph…at least she did before she hit that tree. It turned out ok though. I think she’s gotten used to the nickname ‘Tree-head’ (The doctors couldn’t remove it, but I think it’s great, I can climb her head and hide when she gets mad…It’s fun watching her whip her head around, trying to look at the top of her own head).

Usually, after driving with me, it takes my passengers about 20 minutes with a crowbar and Vaseline to release their fingers from the dashboard. In fact, the wife’s fingerprints are now permanently embedded on the dash. (Which is a good thing, I can make a cast of them and frame her for stuff if she tried to make me watch Home and Garden TV again.)

I also suspect that my passenger’s nervousness may also have something to do with the fact I’m not quite used to driving on the right yet. Looking only to the right when making a left turn in the USA can be suicide.

Let me tell you, pulling onto a highway, then realizing you’re going north on the southbound side…let’s just say it can do wonders for your constipation.

I even got a phone call from the wife once while I was driving. She warned me some maniac was going the wrong way on I-85. I had to laugh. One driver going the wrong way? One driver? There wasn’t just one! …there were bloody hundreds of them!

(Bad-dum Tshhh!)

Let’s face it, I’m in the minority. I don’t mean the minority of bad drivers…I mean the tiny minority of bad drivers (whose numbers are truly legion) that admit to being bad drivers.

The bad driver story usually goes like this.

“Tom Peters is a mild newspaper reporter… yet he hides a dark secret. By day or by night, he continues his life as a normal, unremarkable person…But when he gets into his car, he instantly transforms into… (Da Da Da DAAAAAH) King of the road, ASSHOLE MAN!!!!”

Why is it, even the most incompetent driver in the world thinks they instantly transform into Nigel Mansel or Dale Earnhart the second they get behind the wheel?

Begone foul shade! For I am Driver Asshole Man, and the roads belong to me!!!

The other driving phenomenon I’ve discovered can be summed up in a simple equation:

B=sc x VS

Or in plain English, Bravery is equal to the size of the car multiplied by the volume of the stereo.

I don’t know what it is, but the average person’s bravery increases by about a million percent when they get in the car. You know the story, you’re driving along, when suddenly you hear the distinctive ‘thud…thud…thudthudthud…thud…thud’ of a car stereo at a million decibels coming up behind you.

This happened to me recently. Someone was driving along, their stereo kicking me in the chest from 20 miles away. They cut me off, forcing me to swerve, and then had the nerve to lean on their horn.

I pulled up next to them at the traffic light.

The driver?

A 17 year old, about 5 feet tall, maybe 80lbs. However, his car has made him brave enough to nearly kill someone twice his size, and then complain because I didn’t die. You see, I’m just over 6”1, weigh in at 270lbs. I could have crushed that guy into a fine powder if the fancy took me.

Something tells me if I accidentally trod on his foot in the street, he wouldn’t say shit, and if he did open his mouth…it would be to apologize.

The car, however, makes all the difference.

The car becomes a suit of armor.

When these people get into their car, they might as well be getting into an armor-plated titanium hover-tank…and a titanium hover-tank equipped with weapons of mass destruction at that.

People who are mortally afraid of fluffy bunnies, daisies and cute ickle babies become invincible behind the wheel. They fear no man, and develop a degree of testicular fortitude possessed by very few people in real life. They attain a degree of bravery that the most toughened, battle hardened, special ops soldier would be proud of. In other words, the most mild mannered person in the world can turn into a raving, invulnerable psycho behind the wheel. They have the fear of someone fighting a paraplegic midget with a chainsaw, while the midget is armed only with a small cardboard tube.

Think about it. The car is the only place in the known universe where a 70lb Chess club nerd is willing to flip off an 8 foot tall, 400lb Nazi with facial tattoos.

You can, however, get your revenge on these people.

The funniest thing to do when someone leans on their horn because you very rudely ignored their psychic turn signal is pull along side them at the lights.

Get as close to them as possible, wind your window down and stare at them. Open your eyes as wide as you can, breathe heavily and then start twitching. I mean, act like you’re the world’s biggest psycho.

Act like you’re the kind of person that would make Leatherface from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” say: “Now hold on, that’s a little extreme, isn’t it? Calm down a bit, that man.”

Watch them squirm. More than likely, they’ll stare straight ahead, as though completely oblivious to your presence. Either that, or they’ll suddenly get very interested in their car stereo. When they ignore you, start hammering on your horn and start literally screaming as loud as you can. Start screaming the weirdest, most absolutely off the wall shit you can think of.

Have fun. Be creative:


Scream as fast as you possibly can and work up a lot of spittle, covering your side window in a steady stream of it. Banging your head on your steering wheel also adds to the effect, especially if you laugh manically and hysterically in between tirades.

If you do this just right, you can get them to cry sometimes. You see, it doesn’t matter how big the other driver is. If you convince them you’re a solid gold, platinum plated psychopath, they’ll just want away from there as soon as possible.

Of course, if they start screaming back…get the hell out of there… Balls to the red light.

You can have some real fun with driving. I think it’s a testament to the fact I’ve not got my work permit yet, and have been unemployed for a year that lets me think of these. Boredom is a wonderful catalyst for creativity.

So next time you’re driving try some of these:

1) Wait for your passenger to zone out and start daydreaming. Then scream as loud as you
possibly can. Their reaction is great. (Actually my brother thought of this one).

2) Keep a white cane in your car and a pair of dark glasses. When you get out of the car in a parking lot, put on the glasses and work your way into the store with the cane. This is also fun to do getting into your car in a crowded parking lot…be sure to drive out at 5mph. A golden Labrador on the passenger seat adds to the effect.

3) In a parking lot, wait for someone who looks distracted to squeeze by your car. Wait until they’re right on top of you, and ‘accidentally’ blast your horn…be sure to offer to pick their groceries off the floor for them.

4) Go into a friends car, turn the wipers on, put the radio to full blast, put flour and confetti in all their air vents, and turn them on to full. Watch the fun when they start the engine.

5) When driving a friend somewhere, take the most convoluted route possible. Make a 2 mile journey take 10. If they ask where you’re going, mutter “Gotta shake ‘em off.” And stare at them. If they tell you to stop being stupid…insist that they’re ‘one of them’.

6) Stop to help someone who has broken down. Make up as much jargon as you possibly can (Have you checked the dongle flooper? They can get clogged if your rocker boxes are misaligned). Once they tell you you’re talking bullshit, Look hurt and indignant, walk round to the front of the car, look under the hood and with a smile of realization on your face say: “Aaaah! This is one of those cars with one of them ‘engines’, is it? I hear they run on some form of refined oil. I’ll stick with the barber hair, thank you very much!” Get back in your car and drive away, shaking your head...Act like you're pedaling.

7) In a crowded car, wait for the song on the radio to finish, then start singing the last song in time with the new one. Continue to do this with every song. If anyone asks what you’re doing, look confused, like you don’t get the joke.

8) Say “I need a bathroom break”…then look like you’re concentrating for a minute or so, then say “That’s better”

9) Offer someone a lift, then when you get to your car, get in the back seat and start making ‘car noises’.

10) Try to start your car with a breadstick. If anyone comments on this, ask them to be quiet and tell them, you’ll ‘get it in a minute’…keep this up for as long as possible.

11) When filling your car with gas, talk dirty to the car, and make a big moment of putting the nozzle in the gas can. Be as dirty as you like.

Ok, by now you’re probably thinking I’ve lost my marbles…but the magic pixies tell me I’m fine. Anyway, what do you know? You’re just a figment of my imagination.


Miz S said...

One Word.......



Anonymous said...

Agree with


would like to add

Stark Raving