Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bozos, Blinkers, Make-Up and a Fork…

This all happens to me a lot more often than should be cosmically possible: I’m driving along a four lane thoroughfare on my way into or out of town. Up ahead I can see the rough outline of what appears to be Bozo driving a car on fire in the left lane travelling much slower than mine. The left turn signal is flashing lazily and unless they are going to enter the grass median they’ve gone as far left as they can go without making World’s Dumbest. A mile later the picture is clear: Bozo is 94, 4 feet 2, and looking through the steering wheel while struggling to reach the gas. This land yacht has three ridiculously long CB antennas needling skyward through the white smoke billowing from under the hood. It rolls over the roof down the trunk and mixes in a mesmerizing swirl with the black smoke belching from the rear. The antennas flex like fishing poles in the turbulence giving the illusion that it is actually trolling on land. As I approach on the right (think dusty desert scene from Mad Max) I accelerate past the mess and am instantly assaulted by a noxious mix of the sound of a Sherman tank and the smell of burning dirty laundry. I shoot a disbelieving glance and consider reaching out to flick shut the open gas door. This pea-green smoke machine can’t possibly accomplish more than 5 miles to the gallon and really couldn’t make an environmentalist any angrier if it were made of Styrofoam and ran on ground dolphin.

I guess I shouldn’t complain too loudly. Driving around oblivious to the world has effectively given the rest of us the opportunity to identify them by their obvious lack of skills and trademark blinker, open gas door, smoke screen, etc. Without these identifiers our safety might be further compromised. So, thanks for the heads-up, I suppose.

One morning about two weeks ago, while driving down a back road, I learned that driving while drunk apparently exhibits the exact same signature erratic pattern as driving while eating an omelet. An over-sized pick-up truck in front of me dropped two tires off the road and over steered into oncoming traffic. I squinted in the sun and looked for the outline of Bozo; and as expected, there it was – the hair, the skills, the comedic approach to my safety. A rusted 90’s Whirlpool washer slid from one side of the truck bed to the other with violent, unrestrained abandon; and to my surprise a black dog leapt into the air barely avoiding the rebounding appliance. I watched in disbelief at the next traffic light as this moron finished an omelet – with a fork. He tossed what was left on the plate (by my calculation; a small pile of chopped tomato and two pieces of bacon) and… the fork… through the sliding rear window and into the dog’s face. The dog ate what may very well have been its last meal as the light turned green. The truck left and the paper plate flipped out under my car as I swerved to avoid getting omelet in my grille.

Look, a lot of competent people eat when they drive; Butterfingers, French fries, Frappuccinos (yeah that’s right, Muffy; if it has sugar, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream it’s almost a sundae – I round up – it’s eating) … but generally mobile food is either finger food or sucked through a straw… hardly considered dining and driving… but when you can’t hold your meal you’re either eating in the wrong place or driving at the wrong time. I would argue if you’ve even considered eating with a fork off a plate on the passenger seat anytime is the wrong time for you to drive – with or without the food.

Then there are the minor offenders – Bozo’s understudies. These are the 15 MPH under the speed limit one unit traffic jams; the mobile cancer studies who smoke with the windows up and the kids in the car; the pompous intolerable who creeps along in front of me applying make-up while dodging bicycles and joggers; here’s a news flash – ever tried to write and drive? Why do think you’re any better with Mascara and eye shadow!?? You need to know something – you aren’t fooling anyone – we know you’ve done this when you show up looking like Braveheart. Then there are those who pull out in front of me to slow down; or who refuse to get into the left turn lane, so they turn from the middle lane; or those who sit at the bank drive-through with a dog the size of a rat on their lap. Look, if your dog is fully grown and still smaller than my cat you should be embarrassed… then fined. I want you to know that when I’m behind you at the bank I secretly pray your dog has a momentary bout with curiosity and gets sucked into the pneumatic tube. I fantasize its demise as it thumps into the teller booth like a chunked pumpkin and knocks the teller off her stool amid a cloud of urine-soaked fur and cheap suckers.

I wish I were a perfect driver, but I’m not. Which brings me to my point – I know I’m not; so I am careful to not pull out in front of you, or not drive with an animal on my lap, or not eat a full meal… with a fork… or not scoot over when you enter the highway. I will inevitably do something to someone from time to time to upset them but I apologize when I do it and it is far from purposeful or chronic. If you’re a clown, the next time you drive, do it with a slant towards the other driver and not so much towards yourself. Try to pay attention to those around you and consider if what you are doing is inconveniencing them… it’ll make you a better driver – and an all-around better human being. And if you’re reading this and driving right now by chance, put the phone down and turn off your blinker, Bozo – I’m the guy behind you laughing at the rat on your lap – and stop smiling and waving at me; I’m not saying hi.