Sun Ra - Column for 6/16

I was just today driving on the Washington Beltway, which on Sundays can actually be pleasant, and noticed yet again the big sign stating "AGGRESSIVE DRIVER IMAGING IN USE - For Your Safety". Which, in my case, is total bullshit. Because I am the aggressive driver. I bloody well want to get somewhere, a trait uncommon among drivers in this area. What I need is passive driver imaging, For My Safety. Frankly, if I and other people who have some clue as to how traffic should work could avoid these idiots, everyone would be a lot happier. And much, much safer.

Now, many of you are now settling comfortably onto your high horses, but let me assure you - I am an excellent driver. Aggressive driving does not mean dangerous driving, no matter how much those weak, simpering, paranoid and/or braindead drivers out there would have you believe it does. Nor does it mean discourteous driving. An aggressive driver is as likely as anyone else to let someone merge in front of them. The problem crops up when that person then drives badly. Which is often synonymous with "slowly", but can also include "erratically", "distractedly", or even "in a manner implying they are a colossal cocksucker", again, all too common in this region.

Aggressive drivers never drive with distractions, aside possibly from a stereo system blasting Monster Magnet at a volume which bulges the doors. This is, you see, because they are Driving. They are trying to Get Somewhere. Thus they are not on the cell phone, playing with their make-up, eating a second donut, or reading a magazine. (I've seen this.) Those are not "aggressive" drivers, those are "distracted" drivers. Their bad driving is not due to their desire to get where they are going, it's due to their desire to be doing something other than driving. We all hate them, and they should not only be imaged, but then hunted down (preferably with dogs) and locked in stocks in a bad part of town.

No, aggressive drivers, by the very nature of being goal-oriented, are better drivers than other people. For one thing, they know how to drive, as compared to the slow and cowardly sort of driver. Nothing ticks us off more than people driving at half the speed limit, leaving multi-car pileups in their wake, and sanctimoniously thinking that they are the safe ones. Or the drivers who are obviously still distracted by Dewey's startling election loss, piloting their Buick LeBismarck as though they were at the helm of an oil tanker - which isn't all that inaccurate, really - softly drifting from right to left, and using whichever turn signal may work, randomly. These people are the farthest thing from "aggressive" - they are "passive", bordering on "comatose".

AND, I will observe, drunk drivers are also not "aggressive drivers" - if they are aggressive, it's on a very personal level towards the guy with eight taillights ahead of them which are hurting their eyes so. No, the hallmark of the potted motorist is that they can't focus on driving. And aggressive drivers are nothing if not focused.

So, as you see, we are the very best drivers. If there were only aggressive drivers on the road, everyone would get where they are going in the shortest amount of time. People would be courteous, because they would know the other driver knew what he or she was doing, and, if in front, would never blatantly hamper traffic flow. Middle fingers would be reserved for speed limit signs, as they should be. People would use their blinkers. People would slow after they get into the turn lane, and not for two fucking blocks beforehand. People would understand how to merge at seventy miles an hour. (Note: some people do, but they are all in LA. Here in DC if there is any sort of merging at all, traffic comes to a standstill. It would be hysterical how bad people are at simple driving tasks around here if only I weren't cast in among them, like Lot among the Sodomites. Which, frankly, is what their driving reminds me of.)

Alas, us "aggressive" - aka "good" - drivers, we who are focused on getting where we are going, are lost in a sea of people for whom driving is a tertiary concern at best. People who must have obtained their licenses in some strange Bizarro universe, where you only pass the license exam by backing into a fire hydrant and then earnestly and loudly blaming it. These are the people who use their brakes on a clear freeway. Who never, ever use their turn signals properly. Who work very hard to get in front of you, and then coast at half the speed limit FOR EXACTLY AS LONG AS THE OTHER LANE IS BLOCKED.

And the true problem is, you can't usually pick these people out until they are already victimizing you. Oh, you know that the guy with the huge aftermarket spoiler and neon undercarriage won't get in front of you and then just sit there. But what about the black Ford Taurus? Is it driven by a high school girl listening to Metallica, or an obese octagenarian who isn't playing music because she can't hear anyways? You don't know! It could be either! Even such good behavior as jackrabbiting away from the red light could simply be the deranged working of an erratic mind, and she'll flip on the old right blinker, drift left into your lane, and slow to fifteen miles an hour before you can pass her.

These people live in a different world. To help you visualize this, I've included my first ever visual aid. Have a look - the first shot is what the road actually looks like. The second shot is what it looks like to a "passive" driver, or at least what we think it must look like, to sufficiently explain their behavior. Can you spot the differences?


What most drivers see.


What problem drivers see.

Anyways. Obviously, we don't need aggressive driver imaging. We need passive driver imaging, preferably coupled with a satellite navigation system allowing us to avoid them.

Or to target them from space with giant lasers.

- Sun Ra

Columns by Sun Ra