Alright, Stefan. You and your lovely wife Devon each drive an expensive gas-guzzling car to work because you each have really high paying jobs in this city; I don’t mind that you don’t take public transit, or carpool, or make any effort whatsoever to reduce your impact on the morning crush of traffic. I don’t even mind that your car, Stefan, is an “Ess You Vee”. Really! I’ve heard the rants, but you’re an adult, you can make your own decisions, and you’ve got your own insecurities to compensate for. I’m sure Devon appreciates knowing that at least your car is bigger than mine. And who knows? Maybe you are safer up there where you can look down on the masses.
And as for you, Bubba, I understand why you still take the Jimmy. Alright, I’ll leave your sex life out of this–but you still commute to and from work. You’re the only person riding those four miles in your seven-seat “truck” which is really a thinly disguised minivan. I won’t tell your wife. I don’t care what you drive.
I’m not all that mad about your completely self-centered approach to commuting. I know that with pro sports, the wacky morning DJs you love to listen to between commercials, softcore porn on MTV, that guy you’re talking to on your cell phone, the stock market, the latest rap video on VH1, and that exciting war overseas, you probably haven’t taken the time to realize that the Beltway* is a shared resource, or that we all have to use it. I don’t mind that your vehicle’s stopping distance completely sucks.
Actually, I do mind, but it gets me all worked up, so I won’t bug you about it just now.
What I want to discuss is a compromise. I drive a Honda Accord when I’m not riding the bus to and from work, so I’m going to dictate terms from the moral high ground here. Don’t worry if I use a bunch of polysyllabic words; I’ll break it down real simple for you at the end, just like O’Reilly and Rush do, only with a little more vitriol and a little more logic.
Here’s what I want you to do. Go down this list, and count up the items that apply to you on your daily commute:
- For every 1000 pounds your car (with you in it) weighs over the first 1500, one point.
- For talking on your cell phone while driving, two points.
- For a front bumper that is significantly higher than the car in front of you, one point. Two points if you’re driving an H2.
- For a driver in front of you who uses his brakes more than once a minute in normal highway driving, one point. Two points if the brake lights are illuminated for more than 20 seconds of that minute.
Add those “points” up and try to keep that number in your head. If you’re worried that you won’t be able to, just remember the number “six”.
See the car in front of you? Of course you don’t. Let me introduce you to the other cars on the road. You can’t occupy the same space on the road as those cars at the same time–without crashing–so you need to have some space in between your front bumper and their rear bumper. This is called following distance. It’s going to help you get to work faster. It’s going to help you wipe out traffic jams. It’s going to put an intelligent, thoughtful person committed to the preservation of our liberties in the White House.**
For every point you scored above, you need to add one second to your following distance. Keep that gap between you and the car in front of you. I promise, your dick won’t shrivel and fall off just because a Dodge Neon zips into the space. If it does, let it go. Your dick is going to shrivel and fall off anyway, because of the curse I put on all SUV drivers. Now, maintain that following distance with whatever car happens to be in front of you, but don’t do it with the brake pedal.
“But how am I supposed to slow down without my brake pedal?” you’d ask, if you were even remotely articulate. I just asked for you. And now I’ll answer:
You see, even if you drive automatic (you pussified technology-reliant city boy) there’s a setting between “GO GO GO” and “OH CRAP STOP” where you’re not actually pushing on either pedal. Yes, the car will actually keep running even if you don’t have either pedal pushed to the floor. It feels like drifting, and it is, sort of. It allows you to slow down gradually.
“But I want to go FASTER, not–” would be about where I’d bitch-slap you for not listening when I said that this would get you to work faster. Have faith, you cookie-cutter conformist asshat, and stop being a drone. Try to approach driving as an interactive skill where you work with everyone else on the road to avoid stopping the flow of traffic. I know your brother works in a brake shop and you want to keep him in business. Do it on your own time, on your own street–the Beltway* is my road, because I know how to use it. I’m only loaning you your piece temporarily, because I’ve grown soft and begun to believe that you can learn to use it responsibly. So, no brakes. Drift, you hamster-fart. Pretend it’s NASCAR and you’ve been paid to throw the race so the DUREX car won’t beat the TROJAN car again.
“That’s HARD, man. The guy in front of me keeps slamming on his brakes,” you would protest, if you bothered to try it for even a moment or two before being distracted by the ads on the radio. Well, I guess the sub-moron in front of you hasn’t learned his lesson yet. You’d better add another point, or pass that idiot. He’s dumber than you, which is saying something. Strangely enough, because you’re behind him, some people would claim that you are responsible for keeping an eye on him. You! Who barely knows how full your tank is, where the speed traps are on your route, how to spell Metro… but nonetheless, you’re going to have to learn if you want to get to work faster. Also: try not to hit your brakes just because there’s a curve. You saw it coming a mile ago. If you didn’t slow down then, it’s your own fault. Just roll your stupid top-heavy car–wait, don’t. All the idiots will rubberneck and hit their brakes. See the pattern? Don’t use your brakes when you can eat up following distance instead. That’s the basic rule.
Do you have it yet? No? Keep practicing. I know you may find it difficult to believe, but your following distance is actually absorbing people’s mistakes in front of you! The people driving behind you are having a more pleasant, efficient, and faster drive to work! If you could understand matter and anti-matter, I’d explain to you that creating a following distance is like charging up an anti-traffic buffer. I’d explain that if even four or five people would do this, the random standing-wave traffic jams at turns on the Beltway* would be absorbed. As it is, I’ll say “you’re eliminating traffic jams faster than John Ashcroft can eliminate my civil liberties…”
“…you self-centered slovenly insecure stressed-out consumer whore.”
*West Coast Dopers substitute “The Five” or “The Four-Oh-Five”. British Dopers subsitute “The M11 Motorway” or what-have-you.
**Not fucking likely.