YTAH's Weblog


Victim of Road Rage? Take some DRIVING LESSONS.

Posted in rants,satire by YTAH on July 22, 2008
Tags: , , ,

Your funeral, my rideComin’ right at you.
I’ve been reading lots of Jeremy Clarkson recently. This may strike you as odd because, if you’re familiar with my tastes and habits, you may know that I try never to read books if I can help it. (What with the written word having gone the way of the dodo and done a Diana and met its final destiny in a fatal, not-so-tragic collision, like all those kids in the Final Destination movies, I just don’t see the point, really.) I can’t remember the last time I read something that didn’t appear in a web browser or on a take-away menu. Also, if you know me, you may know that I couldn’t give a shit about cars and that Jeremy Clarkson writes (mostly) about cars. (Moreover, he earns a living by writing about really expensive cars, which he gets to drive around for free, which means he gets to drive fast, luxury vehicles he never has to pay for even if he totals them, and he gets paid for it, which means – well, it means I fucking hate him on principle, doesn’t it.) So if I care as much about vehicular transport as I do about the mental well-being of popular songstresses or the fate of the fucking whales, why am I writing a piece about driving?

Finding top gear

Driving (Behind) Miss Daisy

Coming (ever so slowly) to a theatre near you.

Perhaps this is the one thing I should have mentioned in my review of Grahamstown and the Eastern Cape. You see, while I was down there, I caught an episode of Top Gear, the motoring show that Clarkson presents on BBC. Now I wouldn’t want you to make the dreadful mistake of conflating this with the terrible motoring shows we have in South Africa; the two have as much in common as (respectively) a soup spoon and a Boeing, or tofu burgers and steak. Yes, both of them involve either metal things that move or consumer products available from your local supermarket, but the difference in quality makes them kettles of entirely different fish. For example: according to the world’s most trustworthy source of information (i.e. Wikipedia), Clarkson has expressed his feeling towards unworthy automobiles by variously catapulting them into the air or dropping them onto caravans. He also doesn’t approve of vegetarians. Clearly, this is my kind of car writer. (Less admirably, he also made an appearance as an amateur voice-artist in the UK version of Pixar’s Cars, playing the main character’s agent. Ghastly.)

In any event, when I got back home I decided to purchase a collection of his columns called Born To Be Riled. In one of these, entitled “Sermon on Sunday Drivers”, he laments the fact (oh lucky man!) that, although UK drivers usually have no problem navigating their country’s confusing and congested streets, he frequently finds himself being subjected to ad hoc roadblocks in the form of recalcitrant and incompetent – usually elderly – drivers. What good fortune. What incalculable providence, to be able to hurl such complaints at heaven. For how much more would he not have cause for lamentation, distress, and alarum, dear reader, if he found himself behind such a Sunday driver during rush hour traffic, as I seem to do every single day on my way to work.

Indefensible driving

Describing his experience of driving in Britain, he compares it to “being part of a huge, perfectly synchronized, well-oiled dance routine”: “Everything is fluid. Everything is perfect.” I’d like to see that spoiled British bastard last a single hour in Cape Town traffic without wanting to bludgeon the living shit out of every incompetent mother-whoring cunt he passes on the roads, including pedestrians, bus drivers, soccer moms, yuppies, and government employees. If he can get to the end of Long Street without killing anyone, I’ll eat his Ferrari.

Mad Max, riding (with a) shotgun

Max "Sugartits" Gibson contemplates the future.

Of course, Clarkson’s logic is not infallible. “The more you drive, the better you’ll get”, he says. Hah. I swear to all the gods I don’t believe in that I’ve seen the same car attempt the same illegal, physically impossible manoeuvre every day this week. But more than that: I’d like to take issue with the term “road rage”, because I feel it uses the word “rage”, incorrectly, as a term of disapprobation. (That means “as if it were somehow a bad thing”.) I suppose many people suffer from the miscomprehension that rage – like discrimination – is necessarily a bad thing. However, if I’ve tried to do anything in these articles, it’s to show that rage, like all other emotions, has its rightful place and serves its own purpose. (It’s better than passive aggression, at any rate.) I think too many people censure drivers – unfairly, I believe – as suffering from “anger management issues”, and are all too eager to promote “defensive driving”. But there’s nothing defensible about the kind of driving I have to put up with on a daily basis – which leads me to my next point:

WAKE THE FUCK UP! People are DRIVING here!

Modest Mouse has a song called “Invisible” where he sings that “No matter what consuming sort of mission you’re on/ Well, you’re not invisible inside your car.” Well, I’m sorry to inform you, Mr Mouse, but apparently I am invisible inside my car. In fact, it appears that I’ve been teleported into a bad James Bond movie directed by a real-life media whore because I seem to be driving an invisible car. Either that, or the people driving behind, in front, and alongside me are all blind, because fuck me if they show the slightest awareness of my existence on this plane. It’s as if I’ve passed through some dimensional portal where I can see others without being observed myself, like in that movie where Keanu Plankface turns out to be Jesus.

Un-wanted poster

My fellow road-users.

Not only are the other drivers I encounter loath to acknowledge my presence, they seem to be barely aware of their own. If I was under the delusion that they were merely competent drivers in responsive, finely-tuned cars, I would perhaps be less concerned about my imminent death in a roadside accident, but it’s hard to imagine the mobile scrapheap heading in my direction as anything but the accelerating maw of death. (Think some infernal combination of the Eastern Cape donkey cart and Wall-E, and you’re getting close.) And it’s not just the state of their vehicles that scares me: the state of the roads, the width of each street, the vaguely discernable arrows painted on the roads – how will any of these fucktards be able to cope with all these, if they cannot even navigate something as simple as a traffic cone?

Wall-E and a donkey cart

Son of a ...

Yet despite all this, I cannot be arsed to adopt a defensive driving position – slowing down before each intersection, taking every corner at 3 km/h, bringing my car to a complete halt before attempting to change lanes. You know why? Because I’m in this car for a motherfucking reason; generally, it’s because I actually want to get somewhere. So to all of my fellow road users, I would like to issue the following public service announcement: If you slow down any more, you won’t have to wait to die another day, fucker.

Let’s play “Whose lane is it anyway? (The car edition)”

Quantum Leap on the horizon

A significant EVENT approaches on the HORIZON (asshole).

Many of these people, when you finally overtake their lumbering skedonke and glare into their vacant, inbred faces, seem like they’re been Quantum Leaped into someone else’s body. I don’t know if you remember that 80s TV show about a scientist who teleports into someone else’s body, travelling through time, space, and genders, to right wrongs and deliver an edifying moral once a week. At the start of one of these episodes, the main character finds himself in the body of someone who happens to be driving a car, with a passenger next to them and oncoming traffic heading straight at them. The stunned and downright petrified expression on his face is exactly the same as the expression most people have when they’re driving, as if they’ve suddenly found themselves in an unfamiliar place, an unfamiliar body, doing something completely unexpected – as if they’ve accidentally teleported in from a place where the concept of “a motor vehicle” is absolutely foreign, or morally reprehensible.

Poster for Driving Lessons (movie)And this brings me to my favourite drive-time game of all, the one I play every morning on my way to work: “PICK A FUCKING LANE!” It’s as if the driver has teleported in from another hemisphere, and hasn’t figured out which side of the road you drive on here. Either that, or they’re unsure whether they’re in a one-way street or dual carriageway, or if they’re even in a car at all. Perhaps it’s really just a videogame. Maybe that car heading directly at them is just a really good CGI effect. Yeah, that’s it. You’re completely right. I hope you’re ready to take a quantum leap into the next life, fucker. As for the rest of you, I quote the Bard when I say, “Run to your houses, fall upon your knees, pray to the gods to intermit the plague that needs must light on this incompetence.”

Learn how to fucking drive, you asshole!

Poster for Harold and Maude (movie)

After taking some driving lessons, they lived happily ever after.

It’s not as if I’ve always wanted to get behind the wheel of a car. I will happily walk wherever I’m going, and then accept lifts from friends who’ve been drinking all night rather than driving home myself. I have cheerfully handed over an entire African country’s gross national product to taxi drivers, and patiently endured the discomfort and tedium of trains, rather than investing in my own vehicle. And I wasn’t one of those kids who was begging their parents for driving lessons from birth. (Too many “fun car trips” from Grahamstown to Bloemfontein and Cape Town kinda spoiled it for me.) If you gave me a Ferrari, I would spend entire days staring at it but I would never fucking touch it, nevermind drive it anywhere. All of which probably explains why, when I was 20, my father finally punched me out, shoved me in the car, and dumped me in front of the driving instructor’s. It’s amazing how driving someone else’s car, and having things calmly and repeatedly explained to you, actually improves the whole enterprise. So I can heartily recommend this course of action to every person who intends to venture out onto the roads with me – yes, even the most inveterate, incorrigible retards.

Because if the ginger kid from Harry Potter can do it, so can you.

[Originally posted on www.africans.co.za on Tuesday, July 22, 2008.]

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