Driving, Deux

I feel a host of driving missives boiling up, reminiscent of my series of critiques of libertarianism a few years back, also affectionately known as “The Great Ayn Rand Beat Down of 2002.”

So let’s talk about a sub-species of the animal known as “Parkius Leftius,” or what is in the common vernacular often referred to as “Passing Lane Slow-Poke,” “The Speed Challenged,” and my personal favorite, “That &%!$!! Idiot in Front of Me.”

The sub-species of which I speak is the lowest of the low. He camouflages himself as a passing lane slow-poke until you get some clear space in the right lane to move comfortably around him and resume your speed.

Then he speeds up.

That’s right, he races you to ten, fifteen, even twenty miles over the speed limit, until you have to get back behind him because you’ve come to another string of people in the right lane.

Then he slows back down.

Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine you are in Nazi Germany, or Stalinist Russia. Do you have any doubt that this little man — and it’s almost always a man — would be gleefully working the machinery of oppression?

He is a closet dictator, an iron-fisted tyrant stuck in the body of a seemingly innocent American motorist. He wants you behind him, under his thumb and, in my case, very nearly under his bumper, because he is H. L. Mencken’s definition of a Puritan: “Someone who is desperately afraid that, somewhere, someone might be having a good time.”

He probably votes for mandatory recycling and kicks his dog. He believes homeschooling should be outlawed. He thinks it’s good to soak the rich, unless he happens to be driving a Lexus, in which case he thinks it’s good to soak the poor in the form of higher subsidies for PBS and sports arenas. He supports mandatory voting laws, eminent domain, restrictive zoning, hate speech penalties, Astro-turf, the Drug War, restricted toilet flushing capacity, China’s right to regulate the Internet, and those irritating little tags on your pillows. He shops regularly at Hobby Lobby and wears golf pants. He secretly calls the neighborhood association because he thinks your hedges are too high.

He is the mandarin of his own imaginary world, and for those brief but interminable minutes when he has you behind him in the passing lane, he is your miserable little king.

I like to think that all those cases of road rage we used to read about were simply a string of would-be dictators getting their comeuppance. I mean really, when you read about someone getting shot on the highway, why do you assume he didn’t deserve it?

Yes, it was a stressful drive to work today. But it only took 15 minutes, because I no longer live in Gomorrah.

Our topic for next time: The Entry and Exit Ramp, or, Who That Yield Sign is Really There For.


  1. Deoxy

    The solution for that particular sub-species is to fall back a ways, then carefully judge when there will be a break on the right and accelerate to a high speed and change lanes JUST past the last guy in the right lane, thus blowing by the annoying person, hopefully by not giving them enough time to match your speed.

    The very few instances of such sub-species that I have seen have been successfully handled thusly (or by being close enough to my desination that I hung back anyway).

  2. Mike A.

    Ahhh, Gomorrah…AKA the Greater Washington, DC Metro Area, right???? You can admit that you miss 66 and 495…who wouldn’t?

  3. Paul

    Now we are in complete agreement. If you are a typical “Parkius Leftius”, even going the speed limit, I’ll get a bit frustrated, but will respect your “right” to go the speed limit, and pass at the next opportunity. The sub-species you identify here isn’t trying to just go about his business, he’s trying to play traffic cop and do what he can to make someone’s day worse.

    The sub-species is operating on the misguided notion that he/she can make the population drive the speed limit (as though you can change even one driver, let alone the whole system). At least you (Tony) can rest comfortably knowing that they’ll never succeed.

    Now, when it comes to red-light runners, I’ll still honk at every one of them (since they pose much more of an accident risk than any average speeder), even though I know it won’t change a thing. It still makes me feel better. 🙂

  4. Greg

    Two weeks after my Mother died in 2004 I met one of these archtypes on the way to – yes – church. Was not in a good frame of mind. It is truly amazing what the back bumper of a 1988 Chevy Pickup does to the right front fender of a Saturn when he races to stop you from cutting in front of him. (Yes it was a him.) Chevy bumper not damaged at all. Of course it was completely accidental on my part . . . riiiight.

    Really enjoy your writings.


  5. Graham Chastney

    It’s great to see that though the UK and USA cultures may be very different they are certainly exactly the same (other than the fact that we drive in the left).

    I’m convinced and would like to see some research on whether these people are the same people who won’t let you past in the super market. How do they make themselves that wide, is it a special form of clothing that can be bought from some specialist web site that I have never heard of. Do they actually have a special camera specially built to cut you up just at the point when you think you can get past.

    Is this really one species or are there multiple species all sent to make our life a mysery.

    Here in the UK we have a TV programme (correct spelling) called “Grumpy Old Men” – you should try it…

  6. wickld

    “Our topic for next time: The Entry and Exit Ramp”

    Few know that the ramp is for getting up to speed before you get on the freeway. Set them straight T.

  7. cooper

    Well, when you were speaking of the racing at your side dude, I thought maybe my dad had moved to your area! He’s none of the other things, but when he gets behind the wheel, he’s that guy! It’s danged embarrassing I tell ya!

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