Crazy Driver Tales

Does anyone else out there feel that drivers of today are way worse than of yesteryear?

I can remember when my mother got a ticket for not using her turn signal.  Today it doesn’t surprise me when I see a police car make a turn without using a signal.  Normal civilians only use them about half the time.

So, if you, my Gentle Readers, are interested, I’m going to start compiling a list of crazy driver types that I have cataloged over the years.

Today’s driver is the “Wide Body.”  A wide body driver is someone who drives like their car is verrrrrry wide.

I saw this happen while walking past the library.  There’s an admittedly sharp turn for cars to make there, but this gentleman driving a compact car made the turn as if he were a 48 foot semi.  He took his sweet time, he went very wide of his own lane, and drove in the opposite lane for about 50 feet before finally merging into his own lane.

If I hadn’t seen it I would have thought it was a joke.  If he had been driving a truck it would have been a sweet turn.  Perhaps he is a truck driver.  I’d like to think a professional could maneuver a vehicle in the right way, no matter what.

So keep an eye out.  I’m sure you’ll meet your own wide body soon.





Watching Watchers Waiting

Driving a car is serious business.  Seriously!  The car costs money.  The gas costs money.  And the insurance costs even more money.  The last thing I want is to get into an accident.  Not only is there that whole “accident” part (your leg isn’t broken, that’s just a flesh wound!) but the insurance company is going to jack up their rates enormously.  I figure that’s why they taught me defensive driving back in the day.

As I understand it, defensive driving means everyone else is crazy except me.  If I’m in the roundabout and I’m looking to stick my car into the whirlpool, I’ve got to assume all of those other cars are net cases.  So I’m going to need a good wide space before I go sticking my nose into the fray.

And here’s where the fun behavior part comes in.  I already know that I drive perfectly.  I know that because I drive defensively.  Everyone else is crazy, therefore I’m the only sane driver, therefore I am perfect.  I like this conclusion.

The problem I have is with watching the person in front of me.  I watch the cars go round and round, and the person in front of me waits and waits.  Wait!  There’s an opening wide enough for two cars to enter the roundabout!  What does the car in front of me do?  Wait.  Waits some more.

Now there’s another space, not quite as big as before, but more than enough.  “Move!” I think to myself.  “Drive!”  This one I might say out loud, along with a few choice words.  Still, the car in front of me waits.

This goes on for about a year.  Until, magic moment!, there’s an opening.  It’s not even as big as the first two, yet the car in front of me starts moving, faster, faster!, and then it’s gone!  It has easily merged into traffic and is gone from my sight.  Whew.  Now it’s my turn, and as we already know, I do it perfectly.

Here’s the other fun part of this particular behavior.  I enjoy watching this person implement their own objective function in real time, even if they don’t know it.  I don’t actually enjoy watching them, but I do think about this in the car.  What can I say?  I’m weird that way.

As this person is waiting, they see a space.  This is what they are thinking (dramatization):  “Oh, there’s a space, but driving my car into that space is a risk.  That risk comes at a cost.  The other side of that cost is how long I have waited.  I have not waited very long, so the cost of the risk outweighs the cost of my time.  So I think I’ll wait a while longer.”

Clock ticks, my foot taps on the accelerator and brakes, and their brain starts talking again.  It says:

“Oh, there’s another space.  This one isn’t as big as the first one, so it costs more to get in there in terms of risk.  I still haven’t waited a long time, so my cost of waiting is still lower than my cost of getting my car moving.  So I’ll wait a bit more.”

Clock still ticks.  This time my fingers are gripping the wheel and I’m thinking evil thoughts.  Wait, there’s another opening!  Back inside their head…

“Oh, another opening!  It looks pretty tight, so the risk is even higher than before.  But now I’ve waited a long time, and so my cost of waiting is also very high.  This time my cost of waiting is much higher than the risk of moving my car, so I will take the chance.”

Hooray!  I watch them move their $!@#! car, and immediately slide into traffic without waiting at all.  My cost of waiting also increased because of the person in front of me.  And I watched the person in front of me pass on larger spaces because they felt they hadn’t waited long enough.

Have you ever watched someone watch while they wait?  Watch out, maybe they are watching you!



Driving Me Crazy

Yet one more piece of evidence that our society is “letting it go.”

Back in the day when I was taught driving, we had to memorize the book and were exposed to quite a few tactical driving skills: Emergency stops, skidding, jack-rabbit starts, evasive maneuvers.

Today, every day on the way to and from work, there is always one example of someone who no longer follows any of the rules.  Their turn signals don’t work, they weave on the road, they use their bright beams even when there are street lights overhead or when other cars approach – usually mine.

Is it possible that this is the rambling of a crotchety old man?  Possibly.  Then again, I remember the day when my mother was pulled over by a cop for not using her turn signal.  She was taking me to school, we were late, and she got a ticket.  Today, it’s not uncommon to see a police car making a turn, without a turn signal, even while the officer driving has a hand to his ear holding something small.  Is it a phone?  Surely not!

Here is where science meets crotchety.  Someday, when our society is fully digitized, the serious student of behavior will be able to ask the great and powerful Goog this question; How many tickets were given out for failure to use a turn signal in the 1960s?  And in the 70s?  All the decades up to today.  My guess is that there are almost no such tickets for turn signal transgressions today.

Is it only that we are getting sloppier as Americans?  Again, it’s possible.  It’s also possible that police have many more serious things to think about, and that they are relatively worse-off than they were in the past.  There’s probably other factors that you can think of.

The fact remains, we don’t communicate like we used to.  We don’t use our technology to the fullest, like we used to.  And that’s why our society can’t wait for robot cars that will do all our thinking for us.

I wonder what we’ll think about, then?


Dumbing of America – Get Rich Quick!

Is it only me?  Or is our great nation, the greatest nation on Earth, getting dumber?

Growing up during the 50s and 60s (that’s the 1950s and 1960s for you young’uns) meant that you got to experience the fun advertisements in comic books.  These ads promised you ways to become a handsome hulk at the beach, or grow sea monkeys, or learn morse code.  None of them promised you riches and retirement.  Our society was more interested in honor, integrity, independence.

As the decades have rolled by, getting rich has become more important.  We watch the stock market daily, even though it’s a meaningless number.  We attend seminars on investing our portfolios, even though it’s been proven that none of these methods help.  We invest in dolls and stuffed animals thinking their value will grow to immense levels, someday.  And we allow ourselves to be barraged by ads and people promising us that we can live a remote life of luxury by “working the web.”

Anyone with an account on wordpress knows what I mean.  Most of the people wandering about in the blogosphere are trying to cross sell each other.  They go by various acronyms but they all amount to the same thing; make lots of money by not doing much real work.

How much longer can this go on?

What do you think?


Dumbing of America – Hammers away!

Is it only me?  Or is our great nation, the greatest nation on Earth, getting dumber?

One of the advantages of getting older (and there aren’t too many advantages) is that you get to personally observe great trends in behavior.  These are affects that may take one or two decades to perceive, and then ANOTHER one to two decades to verify.

One of the great trends that my Saturday Breakfast Buddies and I have observed is that our nation is getting dumber.  To us it’s indisputable.  From learning that college freshman don’t know how to use a hammer or screwdriver to observing people drive on the roads without proper skills or courtesy, we see the evidence all around us.  The problem is that for now, it’s only the whining of old men.

As old men we’ve grown up with this knowledge.  We learned how to use tools as pre-teens.  We wanted to.  We admired carpenters, electricians, mechanics.  We dreamed of driving as young teens, and took to the roads as soon as we could; much to the dread of surrounding adults.  And we mastered all those skills as well as we could, taking pride in that knowledge.

Today we can see how much pride children take in acquiring these types of skills, all important life-sustaining skills.  Almost none.  The parents don’t demand it and don’t teach it.  They don’t know themselves.  And there’s no peer pressure to learn, either.

As adults, they are coddled even more.  Need to fix a door at home?  Call a carpenter.  Better yet, text them.  Stuck drain?  Email a carpenter.  The list goes on, and I’m going to share it with you over the coming weeks.

What do you think?