Monthly Archives: March 2014

Road Rage

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I don’t see why people are going nutso on the roads. Where did all this road rage come from? Maybe we’ve gotten so crowded with overpopulation that we’re losing our personal space and getting upset about it. Me, I rent my personal space out. Hey, it’s a living, ok? Besides, nature abhors a vacuum, right? Maybe the car companies should install force fields around their products. It works for the USS Enterprise. You never heard Captain Kirk screaming “They’re getting too close!” I’d like for us to keep a respectable distance from each other – some of us just aren’t into the ‘up-close-and-personal’ thing – but humans, being the way they are with free will and all, they sometimes want to break the rules of courtesy. Try eating at a diner between two bikers. You’re lucky if you’ve got room to even look at your plate.

Sometimes we get behind on our schedule and try to make it up while on the road. This is a perfect formula for disaster. One of Murphy’s laws is that the hurrier you go, the behinder you get. Folks tend to forget that gem of logic and get all bent out of shape when the Clampetts decide to pick the precise moment you’re in a rush to go sightseeing on a two lane road. I’ve overslept, and on the way to work encountered tractors, herds of sheep, funerals and washed out bridges (I even got behind the original little old lady from Pasedena once). If I leave five minutes early on my schedule I could get to my destination blind and not hit anything. Believe me, I’ve done it. Blind driving can be so fun.

My wife gets steamed up whenever someone gets too close to her back bumper. She swears at them while doing her death gaze in the rearview mirror, immediately slows down to about 2 miles per hour, and even threatens to slam on her brakes (which is somehow a form of justice to her, but would end up really complicating her day). She gets so angry I feel sorry for the poor guy behind us. Ignorant fool has no idea he’s driving close behind Godzilla. I’ve been known to turn around and beg them in sign language to back off, trying to save their life. Never works. Now for myself, I could care less how close someone drives behind me. Heck, I’d appreciate it if they went ahead and pushed me. I’d put it in neutral and let them do all the work. I figure if someone’s willing to pay for personal space, they can have all they want.

Most road rage is caused by someone getting cut off in traffic. There’s no law saying a complete bimbo can’t drive, so we just have to watch out for them. They’re always in the wrong lane until the last possible second, or they can’t read the huge orange sign saying MERGE, or they’re lost and aren’t aware of the other thousand and twelve drivers around them. When I first got married in the seventies, being cut off meant something entirely different, but that’s the subject of a completely different essay. Back then, the bimbo switching lanes two inches in front of you were simply plowed over by traffic. Our cars were built for demolition derbies, made with thick steel and sharp edges. Bimbos didn’t last too long back in the day. Now cars are made of paper mache and tape. If some idiot cuts you off in traffic, don’t get angry. Get a ’57 Chevy Bel Air.

There is one thing that drives me nuts, though. It never fails that when I’m in a line in the turning lane and the green light is only on for 30 seconds, the bozo in front is either doing an inventory of their glove box or tying their shoes or taking a nap, and when they finally hear the forty three guys behind them honking their horns and giving them the middle finger salute, they get through the light as it’s turning yellow. I’ve been known to outflank a turn signal by driving through pastures and warehouses.

So hey, I guess what I’m trying to say here is that it doesn’t do any good getting irate with someone’s careless, thoughtless, bubbleheaded, insane, idiotic driving. Wait. You know, now that I think about it, it might be better if we could install machineguns and rocket launchers on the front of our cars. The heat from the weapons would probably catch our paper mache cars on fire, but at least we’d feel better knowing there’s one less bimbo on the road.

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Buh Bye

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My son called his mother the other day and they talked for awhile. When it came time to wrap the conversation up he said “Talk to you later,” and just hung up the phone. My wife’s ‘bye-bye’ was spoken into the disconnected emptiness and she stared at her phone in disbelief. “I hate it when he does that!” she said, annoyed. Well, lady, I’ve got news for you. There’s going to be a lot more of that kind of junk going around, just wait and see.

I’m not just talking about phone etiquette here. It’s everywhere. People have gotten so used to ending chats abruptly on their smart phones, tablets and other electronic devices that they don’t even think twice about using some of the old-fashioned common courtesies we were taught in our youth. Not only is ‘buh-bye’ gone from our vernacular, so is ‘hello’, ‘how are you’ and ‘I’ll pay for this call’. Is there even such a thing as collect calls anymore? I bet there’s only one ‘0’ operator left in the world, picking her nose and saving the nuggets between the pages of last year’s Cosmo magazine. She should meet the Maytag man. If you don’t know what I mean, you’re too young. We’ve gotten into the habit of just dropping the ball of our conversations and moving on. It’s absolutely sinister.

In the old days of TV and movies, only the bad guys didn’t say goodbye to each other.

Rat Fink: Meet you at the corner of 5th and Main.

Toe Jam: Don’t forget to bring the gun. CLICK. (the international sound of hanging up.) That’s because only the bad guys were rude enough to do that. They didn’t care. It was all about spreading evil, so forget the niceties. Now everyone does it! It’s a slippery slope to complete and utter anarchy, I tell you.

My grandfather taught me how to be polite. When he answered the phone he’d say “Harding residence. Jay speaking.” Honestly. Now days you know who’s calling you when the phone rings, and the caller knows they’re calling you. There’s no mystery any more. That’s why folks just answer the phone with “Wazzup?” I love it when I get a call from an unknown number. I’ll answer and say in a forced whisper “I did the job, but there’s blood EVERYWHERE,” and then hang up. It’s better than joining the Do Not Call Registry. Try it sometime, and just hope it’s not the police department benevolent society asking for donations.

Back in the days of party lines and rotary phones, courtesy was demanded. There was none of this “Hold on” and then sitting in silence while the person you were talking to has a half hour conversation with their homey. Hey, people were even considerate while watching TV. My grandfather was watching a murder mystery one time, and the good guy was standing around the corner leaned up against the wall with a gun in his hand, ready to jump out and take down the bad guy. The good guy didn’t know that the bad guy was sneaking up on him from behind. Not until my grandfather yelled “Look out! He’s sneaking up behind you!” Sometimes they heard, sometimes they didn’t. These days people just let the bad guy get the jump on the good guy. Pure Anarchy.

Do society a favor and start being polite on the phone and internet, ok? I could ramble and rave all day on the moral decline of the civilized world. Remember to say ‘Hello’ and ‘goodbye’. Just don’t be like some of the first-time-in-love kids from my day who would say ‘bye’ but wait for the other person to hang up. That was just stupid. I still haven’t hung up from my first girlfriend. She’s married now with five kids and eight grandkids. I heard every second of her life, and let me tell you, some of it wasn’t pretty. But by God I won’t be the one to hang up first. It’s just a matter of who lives the longest now. Just stupid. But I digress.

Be polite, say ‘goodnight’. Be a good guy and say ‘goodbye’. Just don’t forget to look behind you from time to time, because there’s nobody out there anymore to give you a head’s up.

Talk to you later…

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