Some folks are so selfish and self-involved they have no idea what’s going on around them. Since these narcissists genuinely believe the world revolves around them, they use the world and everyone and everything in it as an extension of their own egos.

The problem is, they have driver’s licenses.

Maybe it’s just me but sitting at the helm of two tons of metal barreling down the freeway at 70 mph+ seems like a good time to be aware of your surroundings. Conversely, it’s probably not such a good time to act out on unsuspecting motorists.

What other reason can there be for parking a car in the fast lane of a California freeway, sitting right next to an 18-wheeler so nobody can pass for miles and when some brave soul does manage to squeak by, speeding up and sticking to him like glue.

This isn’t just a pet peeve of mine – I wouldn’t think of making you sit there wasting precious moments of life you will never get back reading my self-indulgent rants. Come to think of it I guess I do that all the time, but that’s hardly the point.

What is the point? If you witness this sort of behavior anywhere nearly as often as I do, you’d be inclined to think that Americans can’t drive, especially if you’ve driven the German autobahn or the highways of Japan, which work pretty much like clockwork.

It’s true that far too many Americans can’t drive but that’s not the point either.

I’m talking about those who use driving as a way to indulge their childhood traumas – real or imagined – strike out against anyone they think has done them wrong and exercise control they abdicated by self-destructing and playing the victim.

Why does this seem to happen more in America than other places? Good question. Notice I used the word “seem.” I’m not really sure that it’s true at all.

I believe you must be a certified lunatic just to get a driver’s license in Italy, especially to drive in Milan. South Korea has I think the highest rate of alcohol related road deaths per capita. And nobody pays any attention to red lights and traffic laws in Taiwan.

Still, I think the great American ego is at least partially to blame. On average, I think we think too highly of ourselves and too lowly of everyone else who, in our warped perception, gets in our way, meaning they’re not really in our way but that’s not going to stop us from showing them what’s what.

Truth is, I was the “brave soul” in the above story, but what happened later that day may provide the most accurate, if not least fulfilling, insight into why so many Americans behave the way they do on the road.

On a narrow 20 mph mountain road I’ve been driving for close to 25 years some guy in a full-sized pickup hauling a boat trailer came barreling through, forcing me to pull over into someone’s driveway to avoid being sideswiped. As this cretin blew past he shouted, “Get out of my f—ing way, a–hole!”

What could possibly be more American than that?

  • BigGameHunter

    This is another beaut, Steve. So right. Here’s another one to add to the crazy country list. Kyrgyzstan. There are no lanes in that country. Don’t hire a driver to barrel down the roads at night. You will be sideswiping cows that use it too. And one very American saying to add. As an American, were quite noticeable in many countries around the world. As you travel the country you’ll get the inquisitive stares that go on for minutes. I led a group to Tajikistan one year and we rented a small van to get us from Dushanbe into the lower foot hills where we then rode yaks into the high country. One of my clients became annoyed at the stares when we stopped for fuel. He simply blurted out. “That’s right, more horny Americans”. That stuck with me as very American. Take care.

    • Steve Tobak

      I want to ride a yak.

  • Monty Gry

    My brother was the worst. He drove like a maniac, yet ALL of the other traffic was “doing it wrong”. ”look at that guy tailgating”. He was tough to drive with as he yelled at every car who was doing something poorly. If he was at a red light and the guy in front of him wasn’t moving as soon as it turned green[like a drag strip racer} he blasted the horn. He was the most patient person until he got behind the wheel, when he turned into something else. But I finally got him. We got a deal on a washing machine that we had to pick up at a warehouse. He drove slightly past the entrance of the dock and had to turn around in a tight space. Another car came up as he was doing a 12 point turn with his non power steering van….and they finally beeped their horn at him. His response “why don’t you have some patience”. I laughed my head off and got him with “What would you be doing IF you were THAT driver’?

  • E Van

    Even the phrase “fast lane” annoys me. There is no “fast lane”. There are inside lanes and outside lanes. Calling it the fast lane pretends there is a place to exceed the speed limit and there is not. None of us should be exceeding the speed limit. It is there for everyone’s safety. As responsible citizens it’s our duty to be law-abiding. You are not as skilled a driver as you think you are and have less control over a speeding car. Yes, we’re rude and selfish. Does anyone even know the meaning of the word “yield”? You must yield the right of way and that means you have to know which driver has the right of way. It’s the guy already on the freeway, it’s the guy who’s already on the main road (whether you can guess that with your heavy foot you can “make it”). I’ve recently come to the conclusion that if I hadn’t gotten my license 47 years ago that I’d not have the courage to do it today. There is a place on the freeway close to my home (2 lanes go to one interstate and the other two lanes go to another interstate) where you have to go all the way over to the left (instead of the right lane of the two) because that’s where the UPS trucks come from and they just move over into freeway traffic regardless of the car that is there. That’s generally the only reason I go all the way over, because it’s the only safe place to go. And I’m not “parked” there, I’m moving at the speed limit. You have no right to be annoyed with that. If you are, then it’s your issue and not mine.

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