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Reblog Sunday: Dear Inattentive Driver

Welcome to another in a series of posts on “Reblog Sunday.” Here is were I recycle content I have posted elsewhere. Reasons vary. It could be that I believe it is important, touching or funny. Or, it could be that I’m lazy. I’m leaving that decision as a exercise for you, gentle reader.

Today’s offering was originally a Guest Blog at Letters To People Who Won’t Read Them on May 17th of this year. You’ve been there when the left lane bandit selfishly keeps you from your destination, when the cell phone talker brakes your forward progress to a crawl, when the NASCAR wanabees try trading paint with you. This post is for them; the inattentive drivers.

Dear Inattentive Driver,

You saw me coming. Don’t deny it. I know you saw me. For Pete’s sake, I drive a bright red, Ford F-150 (don’t judge)! I could tell you just wanted to get in front of me. It might have been when you pulled out of your neighborhood with smoke billowing out of both wheel wells like Don “The Snake” Prudhomme coming off the line. Or perhaps it was when you fishtailed across the double yellow lines, leaving 35 feet of rubber on the road. Wonderful odor, overheated tires; I got to enjoy it most of the way to work, thank you.

What I don’t understand is, after that neck wrenching start, why you felt the need to decelerate to a gut-twisting 10 mph under the posted speed limit. There was no one behind me, why couldn’t you have waited? If you were in that big a hurry, why didn’t you roar on off like your butt was on fire? Don’t tell me you didn’t see me then. I know you saw me. I stood on my breaks and flashed my lights at you. You flashed me the finger.

I could tell that you were in pain, with your neck all cattywhompered over, practically resting on your left shoulder like that. “Poetic Justice,” thought I. The way you waved your vehicle all over the road surely should have popped something out of joint. And, it might explain the (lack of) speed too, especially if you suffered velocity damage to your right leg.

But no, that wasn’t the case. You were busy talking on your cell phone. Apparently, you are one of those individuals that have a hard time walking and chewing gum at the same time, because the more you talked, the slower you drove.

Oh, I tried to pass you; twice! The first time there was oncoming traffic. I was lucky there wasn’t a cop headed my way (double yellow lines and all). The next time, you sped up! Suddenly, we’re drag racing! Your head came up off of your shoulder; you sat up straight, and called me a “further-mucker” (as far as I could tell). Really, there was no need for the potty mouth. No reason to take your crappy morning and poor life choices out on me.

You gunned it! There was no way I was going to pass you! Next thing I know, you’ve gone all NASCAR on me, swerving over, trying to trade paint. I chose the better part of valor (insurance premiums) and moved in behind you, for better drafting purposes. I’ll let you in on a little secret, as long as you put speed back into your wheels, I was fine letting you lead; improved gas mileage.

You, self–absorbed as you are, knew that of course. So when I slowed down and slid in behind you, you slowed down and started groping on the floorboard. It seems our little drag race caused you to drop your phone. Judging from the wild gesticulations you were seized by, you felt that was my fault, if I interpreted the handwavium and sailor-speak correctly.

I shouldn’t have wanted to go the speed limit. I’m a bad person, I know. However will I sleep at night?

I settled back and drove, amused by your sophmoronic display; me and the 18 cars that had stacked up behind me. We bided our time. The road widen to four lanes up ahead. We were all willing to wait you out. We should have known better.

When the road widen, you raced to the entrance ramp to the highway. You displayed an awesome need to be first, judging by the three people you cut off when you veered onto the ramp. When the rest of us got out on the highway, you had zoomed into the left lane and … kept pace with the car beside you. I think you guys go to the same gym, the way you both putted along half-heartedly. No real hurry, just here for the social aspects, thanks.

BTW, slower traffic to the right doubly applies to you. I say this knowing you won’t understand.

Some brave soul, who I am frankly in awe of, pulled up on your bumper and hit the high beams. If you aren’t already studying pantomime, you may want to take that under consideration. You have a real gift for it; that and shadow puppets. But, don’t do it for kids. Your “lounge act dealing with hecklers” demeanor will upset the parents.

You, however, are not one to be intimidated by such bullying antics. You showed that fellow, you put on your sunglasses and you slowed down! Here is where you made your mistake. Your gym buddy didn’t slow down; he kept on truckin’ at a blistering 55mph … with me right behind him.

As I passed you, in the right hand lane, I began to understand your (lack of) driving skills a little bit better. Because you’re on the phone, you have to look at the world sideways all the time you’re in the car. That has to be disconcerting. You are practically blind on your right side. FYI: Bluetooth headpieces emit milli-watt levels of broadcast radiation, but that causes less damage to you than constantly wrenching your neck over does. Just saying.

Your right side blindness is why I was finally able to pass you; you didn’t seen me until it was too late. I didn’t hold a grudge. My normal commute had taken twice as long as usual because I was going slower; that couldn’t be put on you, right? And just to show you I had no hard feelings, I waved. You remember, don’t you? I waved and smiled.

Sure you do, because that is when your child, strapped in a car seat in back, started calling me a “further-mucker” (or so it looked like) and giving me a pumping, double-fisted, Audubon salute. You must be proud. Your child is a prodigy. That amount of hand-eye coordination is not typical for three-year-olds, nor is the extensive and impressive depth of your child’s profanitic vocabulary. I understand you being at a bit of a loss at that moment, what with your finger firmly implanted up to your third knuckle in your nasal orifice.

At any rate, I wanted to let you know that I got to work okay and that I got a set of push bars installed on my truck; you know, the big red one? So, the next time you see me coming and feel the urge to pull out ahead of me, ask yourself this question; “How much damage will be done to my car if it’s involved in a pit maneuver?” I’ve already asked myself that question. Do you know what my answer is?

Why, it’s none … none at all.

About the Author: Paul K. Ellis
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