Before we begin, there’s something you should know: I use cruise control when driving. A lot. It’s excellent for fuel efficiency, prolonging the life of the brakes, and maintaining a pace to help the flow of traffic. I even use it on surface streets.
Often when on these surface streets, as I approach a red light or stop sign or stopped traffic, rather than stepping on the brakes, I simply disengage the cruise control by pushing the “Off/Coast” button when I first notice the forthcoming stop. This way, I just gradually slow down and then I hit the brakes only when I absolutely need to. I like doing this for the car-positive reasons listed above but also because without flashing my brake lights, I’m convinced I have prevented a number of back-ups on the highway in my life. (Bonus: it’s exciting when I am able to perfectly calibrate stopping distance with the time I disengage the cruise, almost entirely eliminating the need to use the brakes.)
Anyway, I was employing this tactic today (a non-holiday Saturday, it should be noted — not at any time resembling morning or afternoon rush hour) in a 50 MPH zone on a six-lane, two-way street I’ve driven up and down thousands of times. Suddenly, I heard a little “toot toot” quick horn from nearby. Being in the far left lane right against a median, I looked to my right and there was a middle-aged, red-faced, troll-looking man forcefully gesturing from behind the wheel of a 1990s red Ford pickup truck. As we both stopped at the light, he had rolled his window down and I reciprocated (I didn’t recognize this guy but thought maybe there was something wrong with my car or maybe he was a friend of my dad’s or something and he recognized me but I didn’t know him, etc.)
Before my window was completely down, the following exchange began:
TROLL: [legitimately angry] What the fuck are you doing, man?!
ME: [confused, concerned, making this face] Um… what?
TROLL: Slowing down like that below the speed limit! What the fuck are you doing, man?!
[I look around, incredulous. This is an intersection, right? That light is red, right? All the cars are stopped. Thus, there’s only one answer to his question.]
ME: Obeying… the law?
[Troll shakes his head, dismissive and upset.]
TROLL: Pull your fat ass over to the right lane if you’re going to be doing that shit.
ME: [laughing] Wow! Okay.
He started to say something else as I rolled up the window. I was blown away. People like this exist in reality? Apparently so.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that being stuck behind someone who is driving slow can be frustrating. But, let us pause to consider five conditions in this particular scenario:
- First of all, how dare you? I am only proficient at say, 238 things but top-5 on that list is definitely driving. I have ten years of a flawless record to back this up. I have been paid to drive people around, including a US Congressman for seven months (boom, brag bomb). Impugning my driving is not permitted.
- You weren’t even behind me, sir — what do you care?
- Even if you were behind me… you have three lanes to choose from. Who does anything more than a quick “toot, toot” horn blow followed by the standard judgmental head-shaking or bird-flipping as you pass? Who rolls down their window at a stoplight to flagrantly assault a stranger with words over behavior that isn’t even remotely questionable or directly hindering you at all? I’m not at all surprised you were not wearing a wedding ring, sir (yeah, I noticed).
- On a surface street with a stoplight every quarter mile or so, the left lane isn’t designated as a passing lane at all. Also: because of those stoplights, cars are frequently going to be forced to slow down below the speed limit, sir. It’s just something all of us in the “capable driver” club decided to secretly start doing to really bother you. Glad to know it’s effective.
- On a personal note: while I am absolutely attempting to shed some of my mass, my butt is NOT the issue, sir. It never has been. [For posterity (nearly a pun!): my problems lie in the tummy region and the fact that my skeleton is gargantuan.] Don’t you dare level a complaint abut my butt — it is firm like mutton, sir. More than one interested party has communicated their approval by saying “take me to booty city”*. Also, just in general… who doesn’t love a prodigious tush? Do not sling “fatass” around as an insult. That is tantamount to treason in my America.
So, in summation: I am a good driver. I like butts. And I apologize to everyone in advance but… I slow down for red lights and will absolutely laugh when you quickly get irrational about it.
* No one has ever said this.