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Cranky At Any Speed
8.2.2001 by Zebulon

If you, at any time in your life, have ever driven a car in any sort of traffic situation, including video games, bumper cars, and go-karts, there’s something you need to know about yourself. It’s a dark, egocentric truth that many of us deny, or are ignorant of. And that truth is this: We each think that we are the best driver in the world. You know it’s true. Just take your car (assuming you have one; a truck, motorcycle, or riding lawn mower if you don’t) out on the highway (assuming you have a license; get a PS2 and the game “Midnight Club: Street Racing” if you don’t) and just watch what you think. “Look at that idiot! Does he have no turn signal??” or “Use your damned gas pedal!!” tend to be quite common.
This behavior goes back to our childhoods. Who didn’t play with Hot Wheels brand toy cars, driving them all over our floors, cabinets, ceilings, peanut butter and Dad’s shiny, bald head? Then we’d get sent to our rooms. But before then, you’d follow your brother’s Porsche, the one he got at Toys K Us, because he ran ahead of you and grabbed the last one off the shelf just because you made the mistake of telling him you wanted that one, the one he keeps locked up in his room just to taunt you because you stole his G . I. Joe and tied it to a leftover Saturn V rocket to see if it would actually go to Saturn, but it actually flew twenty feet and exploded in the neighbor’s begonias, causing the figure to melt where it didn’t explode, and you’d think the ungrateful little shit would be flattered that you gave him the opportunity to own the first G. I. Joe on Saturn, but instead he has to overreact and torture you so of course you had to pull up right behind him with the BMW that you had to get because he got the Porsche and make him play with the Porsche right and drive it fast, and not crawl it along under the coffee table looking for Big Bird!! So as you can see, we have a lot of anger left over from childhood. Also Hot Wheels.
So, psychologically, whenever we’re behind a car out on the road, we’re really seeing that Hot Wheels Car. And the taillights and bumper become your brother’s face, laughing maniacally at you as he turns down your offer of $10 for the Porsche then immediately trades it for three paper clips and a plastic cricket to that weird kid who only comes out of his house once a year. So naturally, the car ahead of you is driven by a moron and you must tailgate it until the driver panics and runs off the road. It’s completely natural. Please don’t hurt me.
One of the oddest things about this sort of behavior is that it’s so specific to driving. The same guy who screams himself to within a blood pressure point of a stroke during his ten-minute drive to work will just chuckle when he sees some knuckle-dragging idiot use a computer mouse for crushing insects. The same girl who pulls her car up to within one thousandth of an inch of the car ahead of her for driving less than the speed of light will not give a second thought to someone trying to use their corporate I.D. in an ATM. It’s all subjective an a weird kind of way. And there’s no self-awareness; the driver behind you is following too close for comfort because he wants to drive too fast, and you’re so close to the car ahead of you because any idiot can see they’re driving too slowly.
Anyway, my advice is to lighten up behind the wheel. There’s no since in giving yourself a brain aneurysm over inconsequential events that you’ll forget in a few hours anyway. Especially if I’m the other driver. Because any errors I make are due to you being confused by my superior driving skills. You moron.

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