Driving Instruction

Did you know I used to drive professionally? There are all kinds of interesting secrets I keep from you. It’s all part of the mystique, the allure that keeps you coming back to Sand in the Gears.

What kind of driving, you ask? Not racing, though my Bug once beat a raggedy ’76 Mustang off the line on Stratford Road in Winston-Salem. No, I drove the big rigs.

That’s right, school buses. Diesel automatics, four-in-the-floors, those sweet activity buses with the governor set at 45 instead of 35 — I drove ’em all. I had to pass grueling tests and demonstrate my prowess in situations that would make a lesser man wet himself.

Which I almost did once while stuck at 35 mph on a long stretch of bumpy road after a large Dr. Pepper, but that’s another story.

The point is, I know from driving. So consider this a public service announcement, directed at that portion of the driving public in serious risk of a severe beat-down from yours truly.

Specifically, the passing lane. Which is for passing. Funny how the name follows the function, huh? You see, some of us need to get somewhere. I’m not one of those nuts doing 15 miles over the speed limit. Well, sometimes I am. But if you’re in the passing lane and doing a respectable five or six over the limit, I can bide my time a respectful distance behind you. My issue is with those who only do the speed limit in the passing lane, or worse, drive below the speed limit.

You are in the bloody way. Move.

I have half a mind to get one of those big tubular metal thingies for the front of my truck, just for ramming the next Sunday-driving-on-Monday-morning-my-aren’t-the-flowers-growing-in-the-median-lovely slow-poke turtle-blooded turf crawler who gets in my way. Give me a jury of my peers — my real peers, not the people who sit on really important trials and always seem to screw them up — and I think I’d have a good shot at being vindicated.

And it’s not that I’m in such an all-fired hurry to get anywhere; a wife and three children have accustomed me to being late. It’s just the inconsideration involved in camping out in the left lane without regard to the long line of cars piling up behind you. It’s just rude. Move. Move. We don’t tolerate this sort of nonsense from our toddlers when we need to pass by in the hallway, and we darn sure don’t need to tolerate it from adults who ought to have been taught better by now.

I have no problem with going back to prison, people. So consider yourself warned.


  1. MMM


    I really try to stay out of that lane, but when I know I’m driving faster than I should and there are folks that want to drive faster still, and that includes a big rig on the freeway who had the b##s to HONK at me when he was driving 95 and there were cars right next to me…..

    oh, well.

  2. Josh Harmon

    So this crime is committed in other areas than just my little corner of Montana, I didn’t realize that. Seems as though most folks around here figure the left lane is theirs to own because they turning left 13 miles ahead…

  3. Michael O'Connor

    OK, I’ll admit up front this comment is 65% wise*** and 35% sincere (please don’t ask how I arrived at these numbers. It’s top secret. I’d tell you but then I’d have to . . . y’know . . . ) but have you ever considered that your driving bretheren and sisteren are helping you to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”? That they are merely trying to keep you from breaking parole–or the sound barrier–and by doing this are actually acting as their brother’s keeper?

    Now Grasshopper . . . take the pebble from my hand . . .

  4. Julia P.

    Fess up. Were you one of those high school student bus drivers so popular in South (and perhaps North) Carolina until just recently? You know, a kid who’s just gotten his license who is then entrusted with a big yella bus and lots of peers on curvy dirty roads. I think South Carolina liked having these young drivers–they worked cheap.

  5. Rachel C

    Completely agree. Completely. Just be careful of the radar traps etc. Seriously, people should NOT go too slow in the passing lane, it can be dangerous.

  6. Paul

    I’m glad you put the part in there about being okay with people going “only” 5-10 over in the fast lane. On our major interstate, if you’re doing less than 20 over, you’ll get tailgated even if you’re in the #2 lane (#1=fast lane). I’ll admit it, I’m one of those passive-aggressives that will sit in the #1 (doing my 5-10 over) like MMM (first responder above). It’s not my responsibility to make it easier for people to put other motorists in danger. 🙂

  7. Julesagain

    It isn’t your reponsibility to monitor the driving of others either – I think this attitude is what ticks me off the most about left lane campers. Those who shake their fingers at someone who chooses to go 15 mph over the limit, when THEY are also over the limit, but to a degree that feels safe to THEM – Please. Get. Over. (yourself?)

    For those who just aren’t sure when to scoot over – if you aren’t passing the cars to your right, you should be in that lane. If cars are passing YOU on the right – get over a couple of lanes.

    None of this applies on side streets, I follow speed limits very strictly in neighborhoods and other target-rich environments not designed for speed.

    I drive in Atlanta, home of hour+ commutes and very high speed driving, and it isn’t speed that causes accidents. Innattention, stupidity, and impaired drivers cause accidents. And all the shifting around that a left lane clogger causes fills two of those categories.

  8. Lenise

    First of all, I agree with Tony. Second of all, I say there’s a significant difference safety-wise between going 5 mph over the limit and going 15 mph over. So does the law- one of ’em is called reckless driving. Maybe it’s shades of wrong, but one of them is significantly darker. All the same, I restrict my passing lane activity to passing.

  9. cooper

    Oh y’all need to come to California. The far right lane is the new fast lane! We threw back the passing lane about five years ago, it’s now the safety council Sam lane!

  10. buzz

    Huh. Well, if you think 15mph over the speed limit is reckless, you will love this story. I was coming back home from Dallas on I-35 when I got swept along by a bunch of OU fans on their way home from a football game in Texas. I was cruising along at a nice respectable 102 when a guy in a grand am passed me on the right. 32 miles over the speed limit and I was slowing him down.

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