I think Sting had it right when he penned the phrase: “contestants in a suicidal race” in the song “Synchronicity II.” For years, I actually thought he was singing “despots in a suicidal race,” which would also have worked (A despot is an absolute ruler, a lord or prince – a tyrant.). At least where I drive, there seem to be a lot of “despots” around me; most of these self-important drivers are in SUVs (talking on cell phones!). They routinely try to push me off the road, since they apparently own it.
With my particular “shiny metal box,” I get no love. I drive an old civic hatchback. Most would assume that since this is a commuter car, it doesn’t go fast and that I’m not much more than “road furniture” – in the way and easily dealt with. In my case, they would be wrong. Sure, the little car takes 11 seconds to get from zero to 60, but once it gets there, watch out. It’s nimble and it corners great. I put performance tires on my car! The nimbleness of my car surprises the average driver. In a straight line, I get passed all the time, but once we come into a corner, I’m in and out of there rather quickly, retaining much of my speed. This is where my little car becomes a go-cart, stealthy and low to the ground. It zips on by those SUVs, and frustrates the drivers who want to pass me. This is the part of the contest that I win. Once we’re back in the straights, my job is to then use the other cars to block anyone who wants to pass me (if they’re being jerks, or if I’m feeling like a jerk). This is a game I like to play, and it’s a lot like chess, except with one wrong move, you can get a big owie.
Some have said that driving with me is like having a religious experience, though most will also admit that I’m a better than the average driver – I’m always thinking ahead, thinking in contingencies, and I do not lose focus. I am an attentive driver.
My first two cars were old GM racers, but they only went straight. They also got lousy gas mileage. When I got the civic, I gained an air of respectability, and I no longer had to go to driver’s training courses on a regular basis (I could teach that class!). My driving habits didn’t change much, but anyone looking in my direction (like the police), wouldn’t give me a second thought because no one driving a civic could possibly be a miscreant driver (though I do get looks for my off the line reaction time and initial speed – from zero to 20, the civic actually goes really fast, it’s in third gear where things start to fall off). Because I own a civic, I have a “cloak of invisibility” with regards to the police. This would change if I drove a performance car (say, a bright yellow Porsche) because guys will look at such a car even if it’s not moving. I sense that this kind of car would be a dangerous and expensive car for me to drive on many levels. It’s probably best that I stick with the civic for commuting, though maybe I should mash up the sides a bit, put a spiked metal grate on the front, and find a bumper sticker that says “ramming speed” for the back bumper. This would signal to anyone: “he’s crazy and he’s not afraid to make contact – give him some room!” Yes, if I did that, I think my commute would improve. I would be the Kim Jong Il of my commute – crazy, but with nukes.