Did one of these things years ago, and folks really seemed to like it a lot. So I did a short follow-up post some time later, which I believe was lost along with a bunch of other stuff when I switched from either Grey Matter to Moveable Type or MT to WordPress as a blogging platform. Now I figger it’s time for another. I got a lot of problems with you people out there on the road, and now you’re gonna hear about it.
Okay, first off, Charlotte has become absolutely unbearable to drive around in. Unfortunately, driving around is what I do for a living—all damned day and half the damned night, every damned day—and Charlotte’s where the money is. But it’s truly awful. The traffic now rivals the Long Island Expressway—not exaggerating AT ALL here, trust me—and rush hour runs basically from about three in the afternoon until around 7 in most places. On certain streets, such as Albemarle Road or Harris Blvd in the University City area, it never really lets up.
The streets themselves are in ridiculously bad condition, as bad as just about anywhere I’ve ever been, and I’ve been everywhere, man. Car-swallowing potholes and cracks, construction projects funneling major multilane thoroughfares down to one lane with the resultant sudden tire-smoking stops, mind-bending snarls and hazards, and haphazardly-marked detours make for some real thrills for all and sundry. After leaving NYC and not missing the infernal things one tiny bit, Harlotte also now has those awful steel plates popping up all over the place too, the ones that rear their ugly edges up well above pavement level and eat tires, shocks, and steering alignment for a light snack. Just recently I had to shell out a bunch of money I didn’t have to replace not just one but two—count em, two (2)—nearly new tires in which the steel belts had separated, a condition usually caused by smashing into a bad pothole or plate hard enough to jar the fillings in your teeth loose. Two of ’em. The same damned day.
With the population rising here at an almost unbelievable rate—imported from other parts of the country (the Northeast—ahem) harboring drivers who lack the faintest idea about what they’re doing but drive like Mario Andretti on crystal meth, are inconsiderate as hell and bereft of any sense of courtesy, have absolutely no clue about where they’re going, and insist on keeping their phones in front of their faces at 70 mph taking selfies to post on Fucking Facebook—the number of drivers out there randomly making sudden unsignaled turns or freeway exits from the far lane, wandering in and out of their lane into yours, and/or creeping along at a snail’s pace because they’re lost, panicked, and oblivious to the existence of other drivers have all proliferated horribly.
Next up, tailgating. I simply must ask: WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE, ANYWAY?!? You are riding RIGHT UP MY ASS, leaving yourself NO POSSIBILITY OF AVOIDING REAR-ENDING ME should I have to suddenly apply the brakes, and you are paying NO ATTENTION WHATSOEVER because you’re dicking around with your fucking phone. At 70 miles per hour. Did NOBODY explain the importance of maintaining adequate following distance to you in Driver’s Ed, assuming you ever even took it, or paid the slightest attention in class when you did? Every blasted week—nearly every blasted day, actually—I see rear-enders involving pileups of four, five, or six cars, the drivers standing around dully scratching their vacant heads and puzzling over how such an outlandish thing could possibly have occurred.
Figuring that out does NOT require rocket-scientist-level intelligence: the poor schlub at the head of the line is toodling happily along when he has to suddenly stomp his brakes for any of approximately eleventy-billion perfectly good reasons; the moron behind him futzing around with his cellphone and riding his ass can’t stop and rams him; the moron likewise behind HIM driving like an idiot does likewise; and so it goes, until we get to the only sensible person in the line who is able to avoid the accordion-action pileup in front of him because he realizes that there is NO text message or Facebook post important enough to anybody that it can’t wait the fifteen or twenty minutes it will take him to get safely home and out from behind the wheel. Where the crushed-bumper clowns on the side of the road making lame excuses to each other never should have been allowed in the first place.
What’s with the tailgating thing, anyway? That, combined with the jackasses who zip wildly in and out of rush-hour traffic trying to improve their position in the traffic stream by one or two notches, speeding up, slowing down, and generally annoying me no end, are incomprehensible to me. Where the hell do you think you’re GOING in all that traffic, anyway? There are large, heavy metal objects moving rapidly all around you, in front, behind, to each side—all of them gliding along at roughly equal speed, every one of whose operators is every damned bit as eager to get home from work as you are. Is exercising a bare modicum of patience, maturity, and consideration for other people during your daily commute really just flat beyond you? Did you ever notice that all those people you endangered by blowing recklessly past them will be catching up to sit beside you at the next stoplight—every single damned time? Is paring fifteen or twenty seconds off your drive home that particular day REALLY going to enhance your life so greatly that it validates your putting the well-being of every swinging dick on the road at risk, including your own?
All that blood-boiling idiocy is bad enough for sure. But of late the thing that’s really frosting my nuts is a no-fooling puzzler, something I truly can’t figure out after lengthy deliberation: high beam headlights. After years and years of only occasionally, even rarely, being blinded by some doot-brained nimrod coming at me down the other side of the road (bad enough) or coming up behind me (worse) with his damned brights on, of late this annoying, dangerous, and stupid shit is something I’m seeing many, many times a night, every single night, seven days a week. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS GOING ON HERE? Yeah, of course now and then our attention slips and we leave the brights on on a dark country road, we’ve all done it—whereupon the guy you’re approaching on the other side flips his brights at you, you sheepishly go “Oh, dammit!” to yourself at your absent-minded lapse, and cut your dang brights off until he goes by. In fact, I can remember a time when, if it was a cop coming at you flipping his brights at you to get you to cut yours, and you failed to do so, you could pretty much count on getting stopped, maybe even a ticket depending on how peaceably the guy’s lunch is sitting with him that evening.
But no more, apparently. There is a whole damned passel of mouthbreathers out there these days who either A) have no idea how to turn their brights off and just drive around with them on all the time hoping no one will notice; B) encounter old guys like me, who don’t see so good at night no more anyway and are about to careen into the ditch, flipping their brights at em desperately trying to get the thoughtless sonsabitches to kill the damned blinders already until we can all pass safely by, don’t give a fragrant shit, and just say, “Ehh, fuck ’em” and leave them on; or C) don’t know what high beams are, have no idea they’re switched on, and are perplexed as to why oncoming drivers’ lights are going brighter and dimmer again and again, because nobody HAS functioning high beams in Pakistan or Somalia or whatever other blighted hellhole they arrived here from three weeks ago; or D) some abhorrent combination of any or all of the above.
This whole nuthouse circus going on, mind you, in an era when advanced illumination techonology has given us headlight bulbs that are literally orders of magnitude brighter than, say, the ones of fifteen or twenty years ago. I note without further comment that, when the witless and/or thoughtless culprit is overtaking me from behind and I can get a good look at them as they go by, the overwhelming majority of these miscreants has been either older black women or younger Middle-Eastern ones with headscarves on. No veils yet, thank God. But one of these days that’s gonna happen too, I bet, and I only wish I could say I’ll be surprised by it.
So there you have it, gang: the third and possibly final installment of Mike’s Rules Of The Road. Read ’em, learn ’em, live ’em. Always remember the old bumper sticker slogan: drive like hell, and you’ll get there. And dim your lights, for God’s sake.