The 4 Most Baffling Driving Behaviors Everyone Encounters
Scientific studies of the driving brain tell us that driving lulls you into a meditative state. This always made sense to me. When having trouble sleeping, or just thinking through a problem at work or in school, I've always instinctively hopped into my car and drove for 20 or 30 minutes with no destination in mind. In addition to lulling me into a driving-induced Zen state, driving without trying to get anywhere frees you to focus on strange things we all do behind the wheel and makes you realize that they make absolutely no sense.
During my many drives, I've noticed some weird things -- some unexplainable, some just dumb. Things like ...
The Cop Trap
The mere sight of a police car can pucker a butthole. Put a cop car in the middle of traffic and everyone within 50 feet is on their best behavior. This creates an impenetrable wall of do-gooders that encase the cop in a pocket of meandering drivers petrified of breaking the law.
This is the Cop Trap. The cop's aura of authority threatens everyone nearby into being model citizens. I suspect it's because no one is at all sure if a cop can pull you over for speeding if they're driving next to you. The assumption people seem to make is: They're a cop, and therefore they're probably traveling at the proper speed. If I match that speed, I'm fine. If I pull ahead of them, I'm speeding and will get pulled over.
"Play it cool and he won't know I'm blitzed on Zicam."
I have no clue if cops can pull you over for that, and judging by the number of Cop Traps I've seen throughout my life and have taken part in, I'm certain a majority of people are just as clueless as I am. I can Google it, then confirm or deny it in this article -- but why? Why take the chance of ruining something that's so fun to watch?
For miles a cop will hover behind these ass-draggers until they get fed up with everyone trying make themselves look extra-special-good, like students pretending they're thinking really hard when the teacher walks around, only to cheat off the kid next to them when the teacher passes. The cop moves on to another portion of the traffic flow, where they will most likely get stuck behind another cavalcade of suck-ups.
Just a bunch of this shit, but cars.
Cops probably have to sit through that every day, multiple times a day. Random, senseless police brutality makes a little more sense all of a sudden.
The One Person Who Wants to Control the Laws of the Fast Lane
Upon all roadways any vehicle proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic.
You are at the mercy of the "normal speed of traffic," meaning that if other drivers (emphasis on the plural) around you think the definition of the fast-lane's usage should be "1,000 MPH because we have parachutes for brakes," you can't drive in the left lane because their speed has altered the fast lane's definition. The Uniform Vehicle Code should have had phrases like "whatever, man" and "Pfft! *jerk-off hand motion*" wedged in there to really hammer home the obvious laziness that went into thinking that one up. But this entry isn't about the fast lane and its ever-changing definition; it's about the assholes with parachutes for brakes traveling at 1,000 MPH.
Still late for work.
They think the normal speed of traffic applies only to their speed, not the average top speed of everyone around them. They're pissed that no one seems to be listening to their suggestion of everyone driving so fast their cars create a rift in space-time and start aging. But blazing from behind and braking so close to your car their front bumper could caress your ass hair comes a single person whose definition of fast lane sounds eerily similar to how NASA engineers launch shuttles into orbit. They are not human. Like ancient gods, this ... thing is the personification of a concept: They are the personification of dissatisfaction.
This thing is trying to form a one-man coup. It hates you because you're not trying to set a new land-speed record. It lets you know this by filling you with the kind panic you got when a teacher called on you to answer a question and you weren't paying attention, but it's all happening at 70 MPH. Flashing headlights, incessant honking, hand gestures usually reserved for angry villagers when threatening Frankenstein's monster. And why? Well, how else will it achieve supersonic speeds if it can't travel in a solid, unbroken line of automotive fury?
If you remain vigilant, this thing will lose its patience and opt to pass. The thrill of almost-state-sanctioned speeding is ruined because some dick wanted you and everyone else around you to deeply ponder its definition of "fast" like you're taking a bullshit college course on the philosophy of driving.
The Creeping Stampede of Drivers
Just as the tides of the sea ebb and flow, so goes the fluctuation of traffic surrounding you as you drive. The droves of commuters can dwindle to a few and then ratchet up to droves again. In beautiful yet rare moments, you are the only car on the road. It's strange; it feels like everyone except you poofed and reduced to neat piles of dust with a set of eyes on top. Maybe you swerve a little, or speed, or roll your windows down and play that Kelly Clarkson song you like but are too ashamed to play with the same reckless abandon when the roads aren't your kingdom to rule. It's the driving equivalent of being in the shower -- it's a gratifying solitude.
After some minutes of basking in the soothing loneliness, two bright dots appear in your mirrors. Another driver! It's sad to see this alone-time go away so soon, but it's time to relinquish control and share the road. Hello, other driver! I kept the road nice and safe! Join me!
Then, a second pair of lights. Oh, you brought a friend. That's ... that's fine. And another pair. Oh, I wasn't prepared for so many guests. And another. OK, come o- And yet another. Did you people leap out of a time vortex? Where the fuck are you coming from?
The herd of oncoming cars barrels toward you like surfers all riding the same wave and you're a hapless dolt with arm floaties splashing along the shoreline. They close in. Are they marauders? A vicious, Road Warrior-style gang of football-padded psychos looking for fresh meat to strap to their car hoods to soften the blow of a crash? If they catch up, will they surround your car, creating a reverse Cop Trap, only to speed away seconds later, leaving your car stripped and on cinder blocks yet still traveling at 90 MPH?
"Don't mind us. Just on the way to LEGO Land!"
The panic peaks as the stampede envelopes you, reminding you of a drop of water engulfing all drops in its path as it marches down a window pane. This is it. Whoever they are, you are at their mercy. Take me, oh ye callous ignorers of speed limit signs! Consume me to appease your bitch of a god!
They pass. En masse, as if you were never there, they pass. They pass, and travel onward to the next lonely driver some miles up the road; to another person singing another Kelly Clarkson song equally as catchy as the one you hate to admit you like.
The Driving Buddy
Once the excitement of a road trip has faded after about an hour, after all passengers realize the many hours to come will just be a blur of trees and pavement dotted with the occasional smear of roadkill, everyone mentally checks out and retreats into their personal bubbles of thought. A way to pass the time is to develop a driving buddy outside of the car -- a companion driving another car, moving at around the same speed, and in the same direction, maybe even with the same destination.
You don't know who these people are, their stories, or why you're both heading toward Disney World. You're going for the rides. Maybe he's traveling hundreds of miles and paying extortion-level Disney ticket prices so he can stab the guy who seats people on Splash Mountain. None of it matters. You are friends.
"I choose you, dog on scooter with groceries!"
It's basically a symptom of driving-induced insanity. You're so goddamn bored that any form of human contact will suffice. Tom Hanks talks to a volleyball in Castaway because his smeared blood on it makes it look like it has a face. You're driving a long distance, not stranded on an island. Blood-drenched sporting equipment is a little much. So, fuck it -- Hello, person who doesn't even notice I'm alive! Let's frolic and weave through traffic as if we're two birds mating in mid-air! Oh, the joy we shall have! The places we'll go! I love you, driving buddy! You're my only friend on this desolate strip of road!
"You and me. You soaring majestically; me chomping at your dick, apparently."
And then they catch you picking your nose and the next 200 miles are a fucking nightmare.