Know Your Fellow Drivers
Don't you wonder what they're thinking? ... other drivers ... when they do
the things they do. After years of driving experience, observing drivers for
miles at a time on interstate highways, I like to think that I've come to
understand a few of the personalities operating in the drivers' seats.
Lefty: For Lefty, the left lane is not just his entitlement, it's
his destiny, and his reason for being on the road. It doesn't matter if he's
not the "fastest" driver, because in his mind he's driving "fast," and it's
the "fast lane" isn't it? Well then he should be there! If you need to go
past him then you should use the passing lane ... you know, the one on the
Righty: Passing is for speed demons, not Righty. If he has to slow
to a crawl to avoid using the left lane, then so be it. Passing is risky; it
requires changing lanes; changing lanes is like changing one's mind, being
fickle. Fickle is bad. Besides, he's pretty sure he has to take an exit
ramp about 10 miles down the road. What if he doesn't have enough time to
finish passing before he has to take that exit? No ... it's just not worth
the risk. Righty annoys me sometimes ... but only when I'm sitting in his
Dragster: Dragster likes to drag race. When he meets up with
another Dragster on the highway, he squares his car up with the driver in the
adjacent lane. His sweaty palms steady the wheel with a grip of iron. He
grits his teeth in anticipation of the burst of blinding speed. The brim of
his fedora shields his forehead and ears from the harmful UV rays that
penetrate the windshield of his 1976 Behemoth sedan. And the drag race
begins ... to see who can drag his butt the slowest. Funny how it turns out
to be a dead heat ... for miles.
Random-Foot: A good driver drives by feel. It's the only way to go.
Random-Foot appreciates that. Sometimes it feels right to drive 90 miles per
hour, which dramatically reduces his risk of being rear-ended. Sometimes it
feels right to drive down the center line, which dramatically increases his
interaction with other drivers ... most will feel compelled to make eye
contact with him as they go by ... and some will even be inspired to give him
that special single-finger wave.
Vampire: You might mistake him for Lefty. But Vampire is not
hanging out in the left lane because he thinks he should be there, nor is he
taking his sweet time passing that truck because he has no respect for you
who are stuck behind him. Indeed, you must pity this poor soulless creature,
as Vampire is deathly afraid to look in the mirror. And don't bother
flashing your lights at him; you will simply confuse him as to why his
headliner is suddenly lighting up.
Leader: His job is to set the pace for all other traffic. Don't go
getting uppity and try to pass Leader; he will increase his speed to match
yours ... until he begins passing the next car ... then he will return to The
Right Speed, which he can enforce now that he has the passing lane blocked.
If you ever do succeed in passing him, don't try to make eye contact, as he
has a withering glare that will surely embarrass you, you speed demon.
Follower: You'll only see Follower as you're passing him, or in your
rearview mirror (unless you're a Vampire). Once he's behind you, he'll hug
your bumper so tightly you'll think he got caught on your trailer hitch.
There's no point in slowing down to let him pass, because he doesn't want to.
Your only prayer is that someone faster than you will come by and be more
attractive to him.
Flasher: No, Flasher doesn't drive naked. But you know who he is
... you've seen him ... there, in the right lane ... with his left turn
signal on ... for three miles now, and counting. Every once in a while a
considerate driver in the left lane will pause to let him in, but he doesn't
go. Obviously he doesn't realize his turn signal is on. Why not? Well, he
can't hear it clicking because his window is rolled down or his music is
cranked up, and he can't see it flashing because he hasn't looked at his
gauges ... for three years now, and counting.
Frogger: He's the one trying to predict the behavior of the drivers
in front of him and behind him. You'll easily spot him because he's
switching lanes often, as if playing an IRL version of Frogger. Rumor has it
that around town he times different routes to find the optimum one. But
that's just a rumor. Really. I wouldn't know anything about that.
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