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Brake Down - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Brake Down
Today, as I was driving up Oracle in the left lane, the car in front of me braked. So did I. And when I did, I looked into my rearview mirror to make sure I wasn't going to be hit. I could see the woman driving the car behind me cursing me, hands flailing, because I'd had the temerity to slow her down. After a few seconds, she saw me looking at her, our eyes locking through the dirt and glare of glass. She came as close to bumping me as she could to let me know that she really was as pissed off as she had initially seemed. My first thoughts were not thoughts, but the feelings that displace them. But then I took a mental step back and pondered the madness of living in a place where there are drivers so bad that they become unhinged because the cars in front of them are braking. I see it all the time.

I'm inclined to generalize about the decline in American civility over the past few decades. The only problem is that I spent a few harrowing hours on the Autostrada some years back and can attest that there are plenty of Italian drivers who also seem to take any impediment to their desired rate of progress as a personal affront. Even though there were dozens of cars ahead of them in the fast lane, they would swerve to see what the trouble was, honk their horns and tailgate like the regulars at a Nebraska Cornhuskers home game. Maybe it's civilization in general that is losing its pretense of civility. I certainly feel like I'm in danger of doing so. If I could play back my rush of ill will from this afternoon, you would be appalled.

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From: e4q Date: March 10th, 2007 01:17 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

civilisation and it's discontents...

dunno about round your way, but in the uk the law is simple, you crash into my ass, it's your fault and your insurance.

i like simplicity. it's rare. and in this case it means that no matter how irate the driver behind is, they touch your chassis and the righteous rage is with you.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 11th, 2007 04:09 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: civilisation and it's discontents...

Here too. Of course, not everyone has insurance. And the hassle of dealing with the repairs -- and the deductible -- would make it, well, a hassle.
From: e4q Date: March 11th, 2007 07:17 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: civilisation and it's discontents...

i hear you. there are bad people here too, and now we have guns! well, i say we, it is confined, largely to teenagers, who are JUST the sort of people we want having guns. luckily they are not all old enough to drive, and when they do they only drive up and down the streets of their own neighbourhoods, so it it is a little contained. personally, i am hoping the recent TEENAGE GUN CRIME SHOCK will prompt the govt. to support youth clubs. we had youth clubs when i was young, they were rubbish, but at least we had them. it is the yoot has nuffin better to do, issit, and bein in a gang is - well, it seems to be necessary to SURVIVE in some places.

anyway, that got a BIT off topic.
jstgerma From: jstgerma Date: March 10th, 2007 02:18 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Nobody in Tucson knows how to drive. This town turns me into a madman -- just today I was screaming epithets out my VW's window at some right-of-way violating fratboy on a cell phone at the intersection right by Epic. Some of the patrons saw me and their laughing made me realize how much of a moron I looked like.

This post reminded me of DFW's graduation speech at Kenyon a couple of years ago.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 11th, 2007 04:16 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Awesome. He's a better graduation speaker than the ones I've seen. Maybe we should carry guns?
danthered From: danthered Date: March 10th, 2007 06:05 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Durnit...let's just try it this way:

Europe vs. Italy
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 13th, 2007 05:50 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I forgot to comment on this. Thanks for the link. Living with someone of Italian ancestry made it especially hilarious.
_luaineach From: _luaineach Date: March 10th, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
where there are drivers so bad that they become unhinged because the cars in front of them are braking

Interesting, the difference in perspective.

I always see such situations in the *other* direction. It's the driver in front of me who is *braking* -- and doing so with such little advanced preparedness that I need be concerned about being rear-ended because of it -- that is the bad driver.

I rarely get agitated driving because it is one of the areas where I always firmly have in mind that everyone is incompetent. All the incompetency in daily life -- inability to forecast events, inability to extrapolate, inability to immediately react, inability to pay consistent attention, inability to predict behaviors, etc. -- are magnified in the driving situation in my opinion. So, I think I'm always a cheerful driver because I naturally assume the worst -- or, rather, never forget that driving is a deadly and perilous occupation -- and then am positively thrilled that I made it to my destination in one piece. :)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 10th, 2007 11:52 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
A wise approach. But the woman in question was looking uphill at a stream of twenty cars in the left lane. It's not like my red brakelights came out of the blue.
_luaineach From: _luaineach Date: March 11th, 2007 04:48 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

I took her anger being directed at you (as opposed to being displayed to you) ... as indication that it was possible for her to believe you to be at blame (i.e., you were the only errant braker she could see). That not being the case... nuts to her! You know how I feel about people singling out individuals for fault when the dynamic is obviously group -- crazy lady!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 11th, 2007 07:03 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Many drivers only look at the car ahead of them, apparently. And even fewer check their rearview mirrors on a consistent basis. It could well be that she saw only me braking, but that would be because she wasn't paying proper attention to the road. Oracle is on a slope, you know.
_luaineach From: _luaineach Date: March 12th, 2007 03:28 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Oracle is on a slope, you know.

You know, in thinking about this, and trying to picture it, I realized I haven't been on Oracle in almost 8 years. Not since when I was first pregnant and we were still in a bowling league with friends at lanes over there. Used to spend a lot of time at Putney's and Curves (before I was pregnant, of course), because the friends lived at Orange Grove and Ina, so it was a straight shot from work downtown to happy hours and their place. But, I don't think I've been on Oracle since then and can't for the life of me remember what it looks like.

And in thinking about *that*, I realized that -- with the exception of Jet's school and The Grantstone and one Safeway here on Craycroft/Grant -- I pretty much never go north of Speedway for anything. Certainly not for anything with regularity. Pretty much all my living takes place from speedway and then on south. Seems to run the full gamut of east to west, but nothing much north of that. Interesting.
schencka From: schencka Date: March 12th, 2007 02:35 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
It's got to be a Tucson thing, a Southwestern thing, the traffic issue -- demographics of transcience: snowbirds, po' folk, addicts, moneyed students in 5,000 lb. SUVs on cell phones; problematic economic inequality, cultural difference, linguistic difference.

This town makes the 1982 film "Pink Floyd The Wall" look positive. Every other day I read about some scene of violence or brutality: dead toddlers, car-wreck fatalities, motorcyclists killed because of somebody's U-turn, a grad student mowed down, a doctor hiring a hit man.

I feel very positive about our English Dept., however.

But when you get down to it, Tucson is the first stop on the approaching Apocalypse.
flw From: flw Date: March 13th, 2007 09:29 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
This is all a matter of perspective.

If you ask me when the last time I was "cut off" was, I can tell you truthfully, that I am never "cut off." Other people will insist that they are "cut off" constantly. It's all subjective, arbitraty and meaningless. And the woman who cursed you in traffic might have been on the way to a Hospital to continue a thankless career as an OR Nurse, where she regularly works unpaid overtime and sacrifices time with her own children to assist in saving the lives of strangers.

That's the odd thing about our society is that we are becoming less civil and more civil more or less constantly at the same time. You couldn't walk from one village to another in medieval Europe (or medieval anywhere) without being attacked by bandits. Murder rates have been declining non-stop since the 1800's...

But, I know what you are getting at!

My gf talks about this mindset in Tucson... In Tucson, moreso than Los Angeles, people seem to think they "own" their intentions out to about five seconds (or more) into the future. It's such an odd thing to try to explain. I often get the sense in Tucson that people are very, very intentionally going to hit me out of spite. If you look at the Tucson Rants & Raves board, people will talk about this exact fantasy.

We had a rock band in LA named after a Driver Instruction manual series from the 30's through the 50's. At that time, car ownership was seen as membership in an elite class, and pedestrians were expected to get the hell out of your way.

But seriously, try to get someone to define what "getting cut off" means, and they will look at you like you're crazy. It all comes down to how much of the future you think you own. And how willing you are to hurt someone to prove it.

We were very, very intentionally hit by someone last year. We were exiting the Sunshine Market on Speedway. We needed to get our nose out a bit to see around a parked car. I was leaning as far forward as I could and looking to the right to see if anyone was coming, and someone was. And this guy was turning left into the parking lot that we were turning out of. There was room enough for him to get in, but it wasn't ideal. Ordinarily I would've backed up a touch so that he could easily make a turn, but I couldn't because someone had pulled right up behind us.

I just sat there. Rather than making his left turn a little wider, this guy looked at me... for like three or four seconds. I was COMPLETELY STOPPED! Then he just ran right into the front of my car, and started hammering the gas. His tires were squealing and he was pivoting around the front of my car. He tore a HUGE hole in the sheet metal on the side of his car. He was screaming out the window the entire time, "You MOTHERFUCKER! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!" and he stopped, and slammed on the gas again and again as he was screaming.

Luckily, there was a cop directly across the way watching the entire episode.

The guy got out of his van and was yelling, "I fucking hope you have insurance you motherfucker, because I don't!"

I mean... what???

Thank God that cop was there!

Our car was undamaged. But this guy had just decided that since he wanted to turn left that he was "owed" that turn by the Universe.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 13th, 2007 02:24 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
That's a great, disturbing story. And your notion that it all depends on how much future people think they own is extremely profound. Boy. Deep, deep, deep.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 13th, 2007 02:24 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
That's a great, disturbing story. And your notion that it all depends on how much future people think they own is extremely profound. Boy. Deep, deep, deep.
flw From: flw Date: March 13th, 2007 09:03 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Are you being sarcastic?

But seriously, time "ownership" is the common factor in all the differentiation in the behavior in Tucson. People think they "own" more of everything around them.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 13th, 2007 09:26 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
No, not sarcastic. Your conception of time "ownership" is philosophically rich. I can't even think through all the ways it's wonderful yet.
From: tropicopolitan Date: March 13th, 2007 05:39 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Funny. I've never driven in Tucson, but I feel much the same way when confronted with horrid drivers in Los Angeles. It's especially bad because I grew up driving amongst the nicest drivers in the entire world. Honolulu drivers are the most chill and polite drivers you could ask for: they do drive pretty slowly, but for the amount of traffic you get in the Honolulu city area, there is remarkably little road rage. People will slow down to let you cut in. And if you're a rude "mainlander"--honking and cursing and flipping people off--you might get your ass beaten by a large truck-driving Samoan. I often wish there were a few more of those civility crusaders around in LA County.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: March 13th, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
We need some of those Samoans here! The oddness of Tucson is that we have both excessively slow senior citizen drivers and meth-amped speedsters in great numbers. It's like a traffic speedball. There are so many accidents here it's insane. I've never been in a place with so many. Most are minor, but still.
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