Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Things That Chap My Ass About Commuting, Part 2

Continuing on from Part 1:

Saw a bumper-sticker this morning on the way to Anchorage: God used to be my copilot, but then we crashed in the Andes and I had to eat him.

That cracked me up.

I always thought the phrase God is my Copilot was just stupid. I mean look here folks, I wouldn’t let God anywhere near the controls. First, He's the guy who designed the platypus. Really, think about that for a minute. Also, there's the fact that the guy is immortal, you really want him playing chicken with the other idiots? And road rage? Seriously, here’s a guy who killed off every first born son in Egypt and blotted out the whole damned (literally) Earth under forty feet of water because people weren’t doing what HE wanted. God’s wrath is legendary, can you imagine Him in rush hour traffic. Yeah, I don’t think so. Try making that claim with AAA, look, Pal, the accident was an act of God. Yeah, yeah, I let Him drive. Whatdaya mean I'm not covered? Don't give me that shit, is was an Act of God, an act of God!

No, God doesn't get to drive. I've got enough headaches already. Get in the back, Jehovah, and keep it down back there. I'm warning you, don’t make me have to pull this car over. Because I will.

God isn’t the only one I’m worried about on the road.

As I noted in the first part of this post, I tend to classify other drivers into categories, slow, stupid, asshole, extra crispy. I give them names. I dream about replacing my front bumper with one of those giant harvester combine spinning jaws of death – and flame throwers.

Today I had the pleasure of sharing the road with:

Viagra Vic. Vic drives a giant truck, and when I say giant I mean fucking huge. In his mind, Vic is the biggest guy on the road. He's so manly he needs two regular car lengths and a lane and a half. He drives the Ford F350 Dually, glossy pitch black, six inch lift, enough chrome to outfit a dozen Terminators, racks of high power halogen lights strong enough to blind the Magellan Space Probe out near Jupiter, quad exhaust pipes belching fire and thick black diesel smoke, mud flaps as big as a king sized mattress with chrome silhouettes of naked women on them. He’s got some kind of vanity plate, MYTRUCK, CHKMGNT, BADAZZ. He drinks his coffee black and strong enough to qualify as a toxic superfund site – he doesn’t really like it, but he wants to make damned sure nobody thinks he’s gay. He buys male enhancement by the caselot and the amount of Rogain he’s taking would grow hair on a granite boulder - unfortunately it’s not doing much for him, other than giving him a nice set of man boobs. He’s got an ego the size of a Sherman tank, and a willie the size of my little finger.

Texas Pete. Viagra Vic, only he’s got a Confederate Flag in the back window and drives like he’s been lobotomized. Yeehaw, Pardner!

Donor Dan. The guy on the motorcycle. I mean, what the hell? He’s not driving a motorcycle, he on a Honda Goldwing. Full stereo surround sound, enough storage compartments to equip an ambulance, coffee cup holder, GPS thingie, two grand worth of leather – he’s not driving a motorcycle, he’s balancing a luxury hotel suite on two wheels. All that, and no helmet – because he wants to feel the wind on his face – in rush hour commuter traffic. Moron. But that’s OK, we only need his organs from the neck down, the head we just throw out. That’s why I carry a chainsaw with me at all times. Hey, first one on the scene gets dibs on the spare parts - I've always dreamed of having an extra set of arms like one of those big red warrior bastards in the Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom books.

Camper Cal. I don’t know if you’ve got these idiots in your part of the world, but here in Alaska they’re everywhere. I’m talking about those guys who drive a giant pick-up with a house strapped on top. In rush hour traffic. I mean seriously here, could you take up more fucking space? Oh, hey, wait, you could. You could tow a boat too! Where does this guy work? Sportsman's Warehouse?

Religious Rick. The guy expecting the Rapture, any second now, any second now, any... He's got a rear window covered in bible verses, most telling me why I'm going to burn in hell. He drives two miles an hour just in case Jesus sucks him up into space without warning.

White Knuckled Willie. Scared shitless to be on the road, Willie's got a hold on his steering wheel like Mr. Spock giving the Vulcan Death Grip to an unruly Klingon. He's only got two speeds, flight or fright, he's either standing on the gas pedal or standing on the brake - there ain't nothing in the middle for Willie. A cop going the other way on the far side of the highway completely oblivious to anything other than getting to the naked latte stand sends Willie into a 20G deceleration like a NASA space probe slamming into the Martian surface at interplanetary speeds - never mind the fact that Willie is doing twenty MPH below the posted speed limit already.

Asshole Al. He'll drive 50 in the left lane, until you try to pass him - then he drives hell bent for leather, nothing is more important to Asshole Al than being in front. Pull in behind him, and he slows down immediately. He's just pissed that he has to drive the mini-van to work.

Weird Winnie. There's one of these people on the road every damned day. Mid 50's, hair starched and painted like a big ball of electrified cotton candy, dressed like the Killer Carnie meets Bobo the Sad Colorblind Clown, glasses like the leaded spyglasses used to check the inside of a 2000 degree forge, giggling wildly and barking like a Tourette's suffer off her meds. Where in the hell is this woman going every morning?

Beater Bob. 1976 rust eaten BMW, trailing a cloud of black smoke and oil fumes. Door held on with duct tape and wishful thinking. Hood missing. Tailpipe made mostly from failure and dragging along in a shower of yellow sparks. Brake lights made from that red plastic tape and one headlight - bright and aimed to signal the mothership.

Prescription Pete. He leans over the steering wheel, face pressed up against the windshield, looking through the bottom of his glasses like a cat goggling a fish bowl. Being a foot closer apparently lets him see the road better. Do the rest of us a favor would you, Mr. Magoo? Get your eyes checked.

And finally, there's Off Road Roger. You've seen him, he drives the jeep, the one with the doors removed. The one with the huge knobby tires that would be better suited to Big Foot IX Monster Truck, tires that make a howling noise over pavement loud enough to liquefry your brain stem from a hundred yards away. There are gas piston shocks like the kind they use on that gargantuan crawler thing that moves spaceships to the launch pad. He's got a roof rack with fuel cans and a giant red jack. He's got a whip antenna with a tennis ball on it, tied over the truck like the St. Louis Arch. There's a hawser thick enough to moor a Navy aircraft carrier wrapped around the front bumper. The whole damned rig is covered in a hardened layer of mud and filth, there are bugs dried an inch thick on the windshield, and a small water buffalo is embedded in the grill. The only clean spot on the entire machine is that sticker on the back, the upside down one that says, "If you can read this, turn me over!" Heh heh, that just gets funnier every time I see it. He's rough and he's tough and there's nowhere he can't go and no mountain too high or valley too low and no terrain too rugged for him to pass.

Except speed bumps.

Those he slows down to a quarter mile per hour, shifts the transaxle into lock, drops her into ultra low L1, and creeps carefully over the obstruction. Hang on the your butts everybody, it's going to be rough! Wheeoh! Everybody still with us?

Commuting. It's like a free tickets to the circus.

The one where the Sad Clown lives.


  1. My name isn't Roger, but then I dont slow down for bumps, I just catch some air and yell "YeeHaa" wishing I had a pintle mount rattling above my head on the roll bar.

  2. You know, I'd take them all, from Asshole Al to Viagre Vic if you'd just take all the cyclists away. The local sui-cyclists here have self-righteousness down to a fine art and their disregard for other road (and sidewalk) users, signs, one-way systems and crossings is the stuff of legends...

  3. MikeB, same here. Plus this time of year we get the foreign grad students who've apparently never driven before, but just must have a car.

    On top of the general trauma of my 38,000-person town adding 43,000 students over the course of a weekend.

    I hate this time of year.

  4. You've left out Osteoporosis Olivia. She's the old lady who used to be a 6' tall model and now, only a short 70 years later, she's down to 4'3". If you pass her, you'll do a double-take because you're not entirely sure there was anyone in the driver's seat.

    Her view is through that little space between the top of the dashboard and a small arc of the steering wheel. The good news is that she can see traffic signals just fine from that angle. The bad news is that that's all she can see.

    She's highly unpredictable; in fact, you might see her driving any old damned way. If she realizes her view is restricted, she'll drive really really slow so that she'll do less damage when she hits the stopped car in front of her. If she's oblivious, she'll just assume that since she can't see any other traffic, there must not be any other traffic. In that case, she's likely to just cruise along as fast as she likes and assume everyone else will just stay out of her way.

    (Oh, and BTW. It's spelled dually...with an 'a', uh, for the dual axles. Please don't steal my organs; I'm not done with them yet.)

  5. MikeB,

    You mean those same cyclists who claim they're vehicles, so hey can use the lanes, but completely ignore the bit about vehicles obeying traffic signals?

  6. Nathan, I posted this from my Blackberry. Dually wasn't in the spell checker, plus the words are really really small.

    But, seriously, of the 15 or 20 typos and misspelling and general syntaxiscal hi-jinks, Duelly is what you settled on to give me crap about?

    Dude, deep breath, hi, out. Mind the squirrels.

  7. I focused on "dually" because for years, I heard Teamsters talking about "fifth-wheel duallies" that would be pulling trailers and I didn't have the slightest fucking idea what they were talking about. And I couldn't ask 'cause I didn't want to seem stupid.

    It stuck with me once I figured it out.

    P.S. I did catch a bunch of the other mistakes but I thought I'd filled my asshole-quota with one comment. If you'd prefer, I'll email completely red-lined corrections from now on. :)

  8. Ha!

    See, I put the typos in on purpose. You guys kept calling me a Mary Sue, and I wanted to seem more...uh...human.

    Are you buying this in even the slightest fashion?


    Feel free to email me the redlines, you wouldn't be the only one - and truthfully I do actually appreciate it.

  9. Yeah, well you see I commute on foot as I only live a kilometer (thats just over a thousand yards for you 'mericans) from my work. That way I get to experience the deep joy of bike-riding morons right at ground level.

  10. I had this guy pull out, slowly, from a side street and crossing all lanes to slowly merge in the other direction, right where M-45 goes from 50 mph to 55 mph. Big Ford F-450 super heavy duty towing, not one, but TWO trailers. Seriously? Michigan allows double-bottom big rigs on restricted highways. But a double-bottom pickup truck? And he couldn't wait for the traffic to go by?

    Dr. Phil

    (I have brand new tires and just had the brakes redone. Yes, I slowed down real fast to let moron do his maneuver.)

  11. Nathan, it isn't dual axles, the 350 comes in one option with dual tires on the rear axle. I don't think Ford makes a dual axle in the F #50 series, but I drive a Hyundai.

    Jim, it is the green men of Mars that have 4 arms, as I recall. The red-men of Mars are very good looking, at least the women - think Deja Thoris - and keep slave girls and wear leather harnesses. (I was 11 and did not know what sex was, literally -Bible Belt communities did that then). My father had multiple volumes of Barsoom, Tarzan and at least one other series in hard bound. He also had the complete works of Twain. (He was a printer and I don't expect paid for them).

    Also Jim, at least you have a job to commute to.

    You also left out a NY area phenomena - the Moving Minyan (spell check wants to make the Minivan), 11 ultra orthadox in a Minivan, one driving, very slowly in the left lane, moving to the right lane only to make left turns.

  12. And Andy the Amish Taxi driving a mini-van they recovered from the ditch the previous owner had left it in to die, piled to the roof with people in plain dress and driven by a refugee from the 60's in desperate need of indoor plumbing (since the pond freezes over). Typically driven at 40 mph no matter if they're in a 65 or a 25 mph zone.

  13. And really, people wonder why I continue to use public transit and haven't gotten another car.


    I live in Atlanta. Consistantly in the Top 5 WORST Commutes, battling with LA, NYC, DC and any place in Florida the day the snowbirds return for the winter (or Disney the day Mickey does his laundry). Same for air quality index top slots.

    Transit can be problematic, but someone else is driving and dealing with the idiots!


  14. Since about 2000 there has been public transport into the city from where I live, either route involves at least a 10 mile drive.

    The more interesting route was car, boat, train, subway, subway for two hours.

    The other was only about 90 minutes, but was car, train, train, subway (or 32 block walk).

    Driving was faster, but without gas was $22 a day for tolls and parking.

  15. I was wondering how long before somebody caught that, ntsc. It was indeed the green men of the dead sea bottoms, the Tharks, who had four arms. They were fierce and unloving nomads and not to be taken lightly. John Carter had many run-ins with them. My favorite depictions of them (and Dejah Thoris) are the Boris paintings.

    And Ford makes a Dually in the F350 series.

  16. My ex modeled for Boris a couple of times, she thought she was on the cover of one of the early Gor books. At least she modeled that pose. This was before me though.


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