Am I a total schmuck?

Last weekend I was camping out on the Olympic peninsula with some friends. For those not familiar with the Olympic Peninsula, it is a relatively remote section of Washington State, accessible to Seattle by ferry or by driving around the tip of Puget Sound. On sunny weekends like the one we just experienced, the Peninsula gets flooded by city dwelling nerds like me, who will spend ten hours driving just to experience a few scant hours on the beach. All of the roads are rural, two lane jobs, and when one schmoe decides to drive really slow, a line of cars form behind him, sometimes miles long. The only option, if you’re stuck behind such a schmoe, is to pass him in the opposing lane, when traffic clears. Most of the drivers here are not very aggressive and will prefer to stay behind schmoe for hours rather than risk passing (even in long stretches where there’s no opposing traffic for miles on end.)

I, on the other hand, did not learn to drive in Washington. I’ve lived and driven in Chicago and Detroit, where even the most passive driver is a raging pit bull compared to Washington drivers. I currently have a Buick Park Avenue with a belt driven supercharger, and it goes really, really fast when I want it to. Consequently, when I get stuck behind schmoe, I pass schmoe.

And I don’t just pass schmoe. I like to use my cruise control, and when I get stuck behind someone who is constantly changing their speed, making my cruise control effectively useless, I pass 'em. They might have been going generally fast enough for me, but what the heck? It’s legal for me to pass them, and it saves me some small irritation, so I do. I also pass big trucks and SUVs which block my view of the road ahead. I pass a lot. Why not? I certainly have the power under the hood for it.

Now, before I get to the bit at hand, some quick points:

  • Despite what you are thinking, I’m not much of a speeder. As a rule, I do not go faster than 5mph over the speed limit. Usually I don’t speed at all. If I sound like a big dangerous speeder, it’s because drivers on the Olympic peninsula seem to go 5 mph *under * the posted speeds. Okay for them, but not me.
  • I pass very carefully. I was once run off the road by some jerk who thought he had space to pass when he didn’t. I don’t want to be that guy, so I’ll stay behind schmoe for hours, if necessary, until I see a space big enough to pass safely. I don’t want to be anywhere near an opposing car. I only pass where it’s legal and the lane markings reflect this. I merge back into the lane with lots of space between me and the car I’m passing. I don’t cut people off.
  • I believe I am fair minded about being on the recieving end of the same behavior. I will pull off the road to let someone who’s in a bigger hurry get past, and give them a friendly wave. When pulling out isn’t an option, as soon as they pull into the opposing lane to pass me, I slow down, so they can get back in ASAP. Treat others the way you want to be treated, I say.

Now here’s what gets me: The driver of almost every car I passed this weekend flipped me off. At least half the drivers stomped on the gas and sped up when they saw I was passing them. People honked, got angry, red in the face, and looked like they were cursing me out. I got this over and over again.

WTF? Is there something I’m missing here? Passing them isn’t illegal, and it isn’t meant as an insult to their manhood (or womanhood.) It just means “I want to go faster than you.” I suspect that part of it is that my car looks like a grandpa car, so people are affronted by the idea that one of these cars will go faster than them. But that’s just speculation - I have no idea why passing inspires such a forceful response.

So I went ahead and posted this question in the pit. If you’re on of the poeple I passed this weekend, or someone of the same mindset, let me have it! Tell me what a jerk I am! I really want to know what’s on you mind, why I piss you off so much. Here’s your opportunity to convince me not to pass you again.

And if you’re one of the slow driving schmoes who causes a multi mile long backup of cars behind you, why don’t you ever use one of the pull outs to give the folks behind a chance to get ahead? That’s what they’re there for! Do you just not realize how many people you’re inconveniencing or what? (Are you aware that delaying 5 or more cars is illegal?)

They probably felt that had been riding their tail for a while.

Or the girlscout stuck to your front bumper was upsetting them.

Or maybe the fact that you’re driving in Bumfuck, WA. When I was TDY to Ft Lewis, I tried to go up to the pennusila when I had two days off. Same shit (eg, slow lanes, people lined up.) I had rented an '02 Mustang, so I said “Fuck it” and powered it up. Passed nine cars (yes, that’s technically reckless endangerment, but as nobody was in the opposing lane…) and each one replied with a ‘tut tut’ to a “I’m gonna kill you, bitch!” Folks in that part of the country just can’t drive.

Curious. Passive as the schmoes are in the speed arena, they take it as an insult when one won’t wait in line behind them like the other sheep.

I’d pass the f*ck out of them. And when they flip you off in the future, give them the biggest smile and friendliest wave imaginable.

Messing with people’s heads is sometimes underrated.

I tend to agree with you. Nice to know I’m not the only one who’s experienced this. I gotta wonder if I’m missing something, though. Jeez.

If it makes you feel better, it’s been scientifically proven that wings fans cannot be total schmucks. :smiley:

Had you been tailgating them before you passed? That’s the only good reason I can think of for flipping off someone who passes me.

Well, [thread=317486]Here[/thread]'s the other side of the story. Some people just don’t like to be passed, it seems.

Stranger

When I drove, I really hated to be passed. Was terrified of it, in fact, because I was afraid that they’d crash into me or scrape my side or that I would crash into them if I were to speed up at all, and also there was too much I had to watch at any one time (rearview window, side of car, front of car, all in rapid procession). So yeah, I hated people who passed, because it was like they didn’t care if they gave me a panic attack, just so they can get their ass to McDonald’s five minutes earlier. Totally inconsiderate and jerkish, or at least, that’s what I thought when I was behind the wheel.

I don’t drive anymore, obviously.

Either the OP is a tailgater or he just happened to be passing a whole bunch of emotionally unbalanced drivers.
Whether or not he was tailgating, the following applies:
Driving 5 mph below the limit on a two-lane country road is not illegal or immoral. If a long line is stacking up behind such a driver, pulling over at a turnout would be nice. However it is really up to other drivers to safely pass when possible. Doing 50 in a 55 zone is no big deal.

On the other hand, tailgating is obnoxious and dangerous. It is never justified.

Nope. I’m a longtime northwesterner, I know exactly what you’re talking about re the drive to Ocean Shores (or wherever), and I pass the shit out of these bozos without regard to their ostensibly bruised egos. Fuck 'em if their acceleration is a joke.

I too was trained by pitbulls. NYer with time in Chicago…

Anyway, I totally hear you on this one. I HATE driving here. I405, 3 lanes + everyone is going 58 MPH. People are passing in the middle, weaving in and out. AND NO ONE DOES A THING! You flash your lights at people to get them to move over (even if there is no one in the lanes next to them) and they get VERY aggressive. I had a guy follow me to my exit after I did this–BYW, this is common practice on every highway I’ve been on outside of Seattle. But here, people think are starting to go crazy-ass apeshit…Here are several instances of roadrage that you can see on our local king5.com:
I-5 road rage crash injures several
By BERNARD CHOI / KING 5 News
05:46 PM PDT on Sunday, July 24, 2005
SEATTLE – A road rage crash snarled traffic on I-5 near the Thurston and Lewis County line. At least five cars were involved, and several people were seriously injured.

Two women shot on I-5 in Seattle
By RAY LANE / KING 5 News
08:42 AM PDT on Monday, July 11, 2005
SEATTLE - Two young women are being treated for injuries at Harborview Medical Center after someone in a passing car shot at their vehicle on Interstate 5 in Seattle Sunday night.

Road rage incident ends in shooting
KING5.com
05:58 PM PDT on Wednesday, June 15, 2005
TACOMA, Wash. – A group of South Sound motorcycle enthusiasts say they are being wrongly accused of attacking a 61-year-old motorist.

I feel so bad for the newbies out here! It is bizarro-world fo’ sure.

No, the law is that if you’re holding up five or more vehicles then you must use the turnout.

Another vote for “you’re not a schmuck.” People who get upset when you want to (or do) pass them are fucking idiots. Either they’re threatened by the idea of someone else “getting ahead” or they’re playing junior highway patrol by making sure nobody else can go “too fast”.

Here on Whidbey Island we have signs that say having a backup of 5 cars or more is illegal. But drivers here are generally good about moving over or letting you pass. Coming from Toronto to the PNW, I’ve learned to slow way down.

You’re not a schmuck, just someone who likes to drive at 5 mph above the speed limit, not below it. Maybe you came up to them (10 mph differential) a little to fast to their liking and they feel justified to let you know that they are a certified member of the “slow” crowd. You know what a good comeback to a finger flipping is? Make a fist and rotate it over one of your eyes so it looks like you’re crying because you got flipped off…the idjits just don’t have a comeback for that.

One time many years ago and with a different driving attitude, I passed 22 cars and the stoopid bus that caused this long line (by traveling 25mph in a 45-55mph zone for 20+ miles) in one fale swoop on the straightaway of this mountain road, it only took less than 20 seconds with no oncoming traffic to be seen the whole straightaway…it was as if the following cars became lemmings to the bus (which ignored every turnout in a 20+ mile stretch).

As for Redwing fans, it’s true…they aren’t schmucks…they’re schleps. :wink:

Not quite.

According to Washington state law the five-vehicle rule only applies when it is not safe or practicable to pass because of heavy oncoming traffic or other conditions (not the case cited in the OP) and the slower driver must use a turnout if it safe to pull off the road - not the case when being tailgated.

Another applicable section of that state’s highway code:

RCW 46.61.145
Following too closely.
(1) The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway.

You think you had troubles? I was out there three years ago with an eight year old Caravan with a car-top carrier (and Ohio plates) and I found myself passing everyone in sight–and I wasn’t even exceeding the speed limit. I didn’t get flipped off more than a couple of times, but then I don’t make it a point to look at drivers I’m passing lest I set off some sort of psychotic reaction.

The only thing Wings fans schlep are small cephalopods (and they only schlep them one way, never home).

Actually, it is immoral. If you have ten or fifteen or twenty drivers backed up for no other reason than your own obliviousness, the odds are excellent that you will provide one or more of theose drivers with a severe case on anger. Thus, you are creating a condition for the near occasion of sin. (Look it up.)

Regardless, given that the OP made no mention of hanging on the rear bumber of any other driver, speculation regarding tailgating is nothing more than wild speculation and can and should be ignored.

LOL! I love it! I suppose it’s possible they were flipping off the Wings bumper sticker, but seriously I doubt there are that many Aves fans out on the peninsula. If there were any, I bet they would drive as aggressively as me, anyway.

To answer what some of you have asked, no, I wasn’t tailgating. I don’t like to be tailgated, so I don’t do it to others. I flashed my lights at a couple of really slow folks, but for the rest I just waited for a space and passed them. You don’t need to tailgate when you have a supercharger.