Driven to distraction
It has been too long since I blogged about driving. I must have been distracted. Well, no more. Hang on. I’m putting it in “L” for “Lunge.” (Like dad used to say.)
You want to kill me? I want to kill you? Fine. We’re gonna settle this once and for all the way nature intended. We’re gonna settle it on the streets. Let’s race.
Psst. Hey, buddy. Wanna buy a road-based transportation system? This baby is state-of-the-art. It’s the absolute finest this planet has to offer. And it only kills +32,000 people per year and injures over two million more. And that’s in the United States alone.
Wow. That does sound great. I’ll take it!
Excuse me. I have to take this call. Okay, I’m back. What were we talking about again? Look out! We’re about to hit that … uh oh.
90 percent of drivers rate their own driving skill as “above average.” They can’t all be right, can they? It turns out that 99.9% of the 90% are delusional idiots.
I, however, can successfully claim to be among the best of the best on the road. I am automotive elite. No, I’m not bragging. It’s not bragging when it’s a fact. And what makes me so special? Only I have the arcane knowledge of the ancients that serves me
in the field of battle when I’m driving a car.
Because I like you, I’ll tell you what it is. I’m even going to tell you for free even though this simple trick is worth millions. The arcane secret of being the best in a car is … hey, where are you going? I’m unloading guru wisdom here. Eyes on me.
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Abyss Vacation Planning
Even an guru gets days off once in a while. Unpaid, of course.
Back in the day, in The Other Life (as I now call it) I had a real job. It had a real salary. It had real benefits like paid sick days, paid holidays, 401k, medical, and dental. Hell, it was almost enough to keep my negativity on the back burner. It was almost like someone gave a shit about me.
Oh yeah, I had FOUR (count ’em motherfucker) paid weeks of vacation, too.
Fast-forward to the Decade of Despair ™ and a lot has changed. True, the Decade of Despair officially ended in 2011, but it has been extended indefinitely in what I’ve come to know as The Bonus Round.
My pay is about the same as I earned in the mid-80s. I shit you not. And I haven’t had a paid day off since the year 2001. Vacation, sick, holiday – whatever. None. Diddly squat. Goose egg. Bupkis.
Health insurance? I only work full time, ya know? Why the fuck would I be worthy of insurance. Don’t make me laugh. If I do I’ll exceed the stress capabilities of my truss and then, well, I’ll need a doctor. Trust me on this. I don’t have $200 on me to see an asshole who will spend three minutes with me giving me bad advice.
But I digress. Since ending The Other Life vacations have been few and far between. Hell, even when I hitched up with Mrs. Abyss the wedding ceremony and honeymoon had to be crammed into a three-day weekend. Monday morning I was right back at it in the shithole.
Someone must have told all of my bosses than an employee stressed to the point of daydreaming 24/7 about swallowing razor blades was the optimal path to productivity, right? It’s the only explanation that makes sense. (That or the universe hates me for daring to exist.)
One time since then I took nine days off in a row. That’s five days “vacation” from work with weekend bookends. Utterly unpaid. It’s a world record that has stood for years. No, I doubt I’ll be able to break it. Not in this lifetime.
But I’m about to tie the record. Yeah, nine more unpaid days off in a row for me. And, since I obviously have so much vacation experience under my belt, I’m going to share a few vacation planning tips with ya. It’s time for me to don my Julie hat. Come aboard, I’m expecting you. I’ll set a course for adventure! If we’re super lucky maybe Doc will even hit on my wife.
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You’re sitting in your car at a red light. In the lane next to you is a driver in another car.
Question: Does it matter how he got there?
If you’re the typical and average obliviot, the answer is no. You’re too busy yapping on your cell phone, texting, fiddling with the radio, playing with your cigarette lighter, or daydreaming. To you, the guy is just another driver. When the light turns green, it takes a couple of seconds to pierce your consciousness, then you slowly accelerate on your way. Meanwhile, the guy next to you punched it like a drag racer when the light turned green, easily got in front of you, and now you’re eating his dust and slowing to a stop as he makes the next turn.
Whoa. What just happened?
Scenario: You’re on a one-way street with two lanes and sitting at a red light. There are two possibilities for how that car got next to you. Either he was always in that lane or he was originally in your lane, saw you at the red light, saw the open lane, and made the switcharoo.
What’s the difference?
To the obliviot driver, the answer is none.
But what about the driver with 360 degrees of zen awareness? To him, there’s a big difference. You see, he knows that if the other driver was originally in his lane, then the odds are high that he’ll want to be back. In other words, that other guy wants the same lane but is changing just because the other lane is open. And, the chances are high that he’ll want to be back. In fact, he may even want to make that turn one block hence, forcing you to eat his ass.
I know. That’s not very nice of him but most drivers can’t resist being in that #1 spot.
Television commercials propagate this. They always show their wares flying around like little lightning bolts, always in motion, and usually never another car in sight. They somehow seem to know that showing their product on the 405 with 10-miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic in every direction and a top speed of 1 mph isn’t quite as exciting.
So yeah, to a zen driver like me, it makes a difference how that driver got there. Because I don’t want to have to ride my brakes just because another asshole wanted to save one-half of a second on his drive.
While I’m sitting at that red light I know exactly what that other guy may be up to, since I watched him originally approach in my lane then switch to the other lane. I watched him in my mirrors. I know where he was and I can guess what he might be up to.
Here’s the fun part. I used to drive a typical four-cylinder piece of shit and I’d punch it and try to block that asshole, but he’d easily out-power me and take “my” space. I always imagined he was cackling with glee, too.
Now, though, I am the captain of an American-made vessel with a whopping eight-cylinders. When I lay that pedal on the floor, it’s a very rare vehicle indeed that can still get ahead of me. I don’t drive the fastest thing on the road but 99% of the time, it is enough. And those are the moments that make life worth living.
Since I’m passive-aggressive, I keep it subtle. I’m on to his game but he isn’t necessarily aware of mine. So I ease on that sucker just enough to block him out. The fun part is keeping it even with his rear bumper. He can taste it but just can’t get the room to make his move.
Sometimes they’ll catch on and put the pedal to the metal and get a short lead. I respond in kind, more than keeping my distance and edging them out. That’s when they “know.” They realize that they aren’t just dealing with an average sucker obliviot. Then, that fantastical moment when the resign themselves to their fate, ease off the gas, and start to drift back. A car-length away, they finally make their move and get behind me. Then they make their little turn.
Splash another bogey! Deep six, yo, motherfucka.
Tom’s Law #42
The odds of a driver (who is making a turn within the next block) changing to the empty lane are exponentially proportional to the number of cars in his lane.
If the driver wants to turn right within a block and the right lane is empty there’s almost a 100% chance the driver won’t change lanes. (It’s never 100% because at least .44% of drivers are legally insane.)
With just one car in the way, that percentage drops to 90%. In other words, 10% of drivers will try make that aggressive maneuver and cut the other driver off to make their turn.
With just two cars ahead, that percentage jumps to 30%. By the time there are seven cars or more in the same lane, there is statistically not a driver in the world, even the most timid, that can resist that open lane. It’s just human nature. It’s almost like they say, “I know I’m going to miss my lane, but that lane is open. How often am I going to get a chance like this?”
Practice your zen, my friends. Stay thirsty.
Is SIN one of the seven deadly ZENS?
Hey boys and girls. There is no such thing as a free lunch. However, right now, today, as I write this, you can download a CD from the group SINIZEN … and it’s absolutely free!
Still here? 🙂
I got mine. Did you get yours? Better click the link and get your free download while they still last. You can come back and read the rest of my blather once you’ve secured that payload. Priorities, priorities!
How often can you get anything free these days? But if you act fast, it’s yours. I have no idea how long this will last. Seriously. Do … it … now.
I’m not exactly sure how to describe SINIZEN. I can’t seem to find a description for them on the web and – what? – no Wikipedia page yet? Seriously, someone should make one! I’d describe them as tasty licks with a reggae flavor. Someone can do much better than that, I’m sure.
So I told you where to get a free album. That’s my good deed for the day. Peace. Out.
Oh, and I put my thinking cap on, and for the life of me I can’t think of the seven deadly zens. Anyone got a list?
Update: I found their group profile.
SINIZEN is a four piece reggae rock group from Huntington Beach. Started by 3 friends, Kevin, Mike, and Jorge. Later finding Ryan Harvey after numerous bass player changes. This band is more determined and more driven than any other band out there and has made a devotion to the music and the scene by creating various albums of different genres, later coming back their roots on their latest breakthrough record “Grass.Roots.Culture”. Creating a reggae vibe with a latin and dub flavor, that surely cant be mistaken for another band in the scene! Dont Blink! you Might miss something!!!!
This is from their ReverbNation web page. Surf there for cool stuff, upcoming show info, etc. 🙂
I have to take this
Am I getting too touchy or is my finger on the pulse of the next generation? With any luck if I press down hard enough on that pulse can I stop the blood flow? 🙂
I’m in a face-to-face conversation with another human being here on planet Earth. Suddenly they get this odd look of surprise on their face and they stop listening to what I’m saying in mid-sentence. They reach into their pocket, pull out a cell phone and scrutinize it like it’s the winning Powerball ticket.
“I have to take this,” they say.
And with that, I’m looking at their back as they turn around and say something of vital importance to the future of civilization like, “Oh, nothing. I’m just talking with someone.”
Well excuse the fuck shit out of me!
The very first thought that crosses my brain is: Why didn’t I pay more attention in the original Terminator movie and learn how to make plastique using common household ingredients found at the local grocery store. Oh yes, that would be so nice right about now. I need to have the proper countermeasures handy for social faux pas just like this.
In a nutshell, we’ve become a society of assholes. I’m no Emily Post by any stretch of the imagination, but some modicum of manners, courtesy and politeness would be appreciated. Sadly those concepts have gone the way of the dodo and the corded telephone.
We no longer live in the moment. We’re never where we’re at. It’s all about what’s next. We’re like a greedy kid on Christmas morning who rips open all the presents in under a minute then complains about being bored five minutes later. Oh, who’s that on the phone? I better look and see. Forget about the fact that you were already interacting with a flesh and blood person who was right in front of you. Someone you can actually see, hear, touch and sense in other real ways.
This concept extends in other directions, too. Watching a movie, about to hurl on the teacups at Disneyland, ringside at a basketball game or rafting down some whitewater rapids? Better make sure you stop while you are still in the act and “tweet” about it and update the status on your fucking Facebook page.
You “have” to take that phone call? Well I “have” to kick you in the face. There. Now we’re even.