Sark on Driving: A Social Experiment

Apparently, I have been running a little bit of a social experiment on myself.

Over the past few months, my new job has required me to drive a company vehicle. Some times it’s a cargo van, sometimes its a cube van, but more often than not, it has been one of these…

hino

It’s a Hino brand… truck, with terrible suspension. Going over bumps makes one think one is a rodeo rider. I suspect my spine will be a few inches shorter whenever I leave this job.

It isn’t the biggest truck out there, but it is big enough that people do NOT want to be stuck behind it. Since it is also a company vehicle, I drive it like it isn’t mine. I stay at the speed limit, except when I have to keep up with traffic, and I usually stay in the right lane so everyone can blow by me.

The funny thing is this kind of driving has spilled over into my regular driving. Even in my own car, these days, I tend to drive the speed limit (or so), and stay in the right lane.

No, I’m not getting old. But when driving a truck, especially a gutless wonder like this one, you quickly learn patience. You also notice how many impatient idiots are out there.

You would not believe some of the crazy shit I’ve seen people do, all so they can get a few car length further on down the street. I’ve seen people cut across two lanes of traffic, from the far left, just so they can get to the exit ramp. Just today, I saw this guy cut in front of me, nearly rear-ending a bus, so he could get ahead of me. Some guy tried to drive under the truck when I tried to merge from the right lane to the left due to construction, then he gave me shit for getting in front of him! There are lots more, but I have a point to get to eventually. I’m not even going to mention the bicyclists who totally disregard the supposed rules of the road, like stopping at a stop light, or going from “powered vehicle” (up here, they are considered a vehicle, powered by a person) to “pedestrian” whenever it is convenient.

Driving can be a chore. It can be tiring, frustrating, and as some of you may have read in a previous blog, “road rage” inducing. But I also enjoy driving. I was lucky that, when I was old enough to get my licence, I didn’t need to wait, or do the graduated licence they have now (up here, people go through various steps to gain their full driver’s licence). I loved having the freedom. Even recently, when pissed off by my neighbours, I went for a drive and came back calmer and relaxed.

But even on the best days, people can be assholes when behind the wheel, myself included. People feel the need to drive fast, to get wherever they have to go as quick as possible. This can drive up stress levels. More often than not, this makes people drive more aggressively. Someone cuts you off, you want to go cut THEM off! They piss you off, you want to get back at them! Enter Road Rage!

So here is where my so-called social experiment came in. I started driving my car like I was driving my work vehicle. I took my time. I didn’t drive like a maniac. I stayed out of people’s way who drove really fast. Mind you, I wasn’t a passive driver. I was just a more relaxed driver. The results? My drive to and from work was peaceful. I felt chill. I didn’t feel the need to drive fast. No one pissed me off, and if they did, I didn’t care. When I realized it was pointless to get angry at someone for something stupid they did, my drive became sooo much nicer.

I had previous learned that people can have big egos when it comes to driving. before, I’d blow by a group of cars, go up ahead a while then slow down. Pretty much every time, someone would speed up, catch up with me, and pull in front of me. It was as if my speeding past them awoke their car ego that reminded them that this was some sort of competition. What was funny was that when someone blew by me, I noticed that I sped up! It was bizarre!

My conclusion to this, and my more recent social experiment, is that people in the cars are like the idiots online, or on social media sites, who feel they can say anything and get away with it. People in their cars feel like they can do totally stupid things and get away with it because they are in their cars. It’s as if their cars make the anonymous, or protect them.

In truth, whether you are driving a car, or commenting online, what you say or do has consequences in the real world. If you can stand by your actions, then so be it. But if you are going to be a jerk, then it’s probably because you are jerk. Or, if you are going to act like an asshole, that is what people will see, an asshole.

So, instead of being an asshole, be chill and take your time behind the wheel.

 

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2 thoughts on “Sark on Driving: A Social Experiment”

  1. It’s sort of liberating, is it not, this revelation? I used to never believe those (clearly stupid) people who would say (dumb) stuff like “you only save a couple of minutes”. But until recently, I was commuting from Lakewood to Colorado Springs, and as I’d leave Littleton down Hwy 85, people would zip around, by me… only to have me pull up beside them at the stoplight in Castle Rock 15-20 miles down the road. Absolutely no gain.

    So, like you, I’ve taken to the right lane and to sticking relatively close to the speed limit and to leaving a little earlier if I absolutely have to be somewhere on time.

    May our zen spread! 😀

    1. It was definitely liberating! And you are absolutely right, traffic lights are the equalizer. No matter how fast people go, you’ll catch up with them at the lights.
      Thanks for reading, and your comment. Enjoy your drive. 🙂

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