Thursday, June 21, 2007
Live And Let Drive
I am convinced that none of my millions of faithful readers does this, but some people do. Actually, in New Jersey it is the law: you drive on the right, pass on the left. I’m not sure whether it’s a NY law or not, but in Jersey, this law is actually respected, for the most. In the greater NYC are the situation is different, though - people there don’t seem to get it. Or rather, they just don’t give a hoot. So they decide to comfortably stroll at their own pace in the left lane, and whoever wants to drive faster, well, drop dead. Moreover, more often than not, they’ll do everything to prevent you from passing them. They’ll either speed up or slow down so as to drive parallel to the car in the middle lane. Or when you can finally jump out from behind them, they’ll speed up to prevent you from passing them. They seem not to care about the dangers involved, neither do they seem to grasp that the “no left lane driving law” (even if just an ethical and common-sense ‘unwritten law’) has quite a good reason; it is reserved for emergency vehicles. Emergencies, alas, are not restricted to official vehicles: there might be a sick person, a woman in labor, a diabetic with a sudden surge or any other imaginable condition. Furthermore, the impatient driver behind you may just be an angry and aggressive speed-feverish man, who may not care about your safety too much. Even worse, if it is an illegal invader, you know that you’ll never see a penny from his inexistent insurance. And whether the driver behind you is breaking the law, is the police’s business, not yours.
Once I unfortunately had to teach such an obfuscate driver a lesson the hard way. He was driving in the left lane at a much slower pace than the maximum permitted limit. His family was in the car, and he was constantly yammering on the phone. After he foiled nearly ten of my attempts to pass him, I flashed him. Once. Twice. After the fifth short flash, it seemed to me raised his hand (inside the car) – I can’t be sure if he was giving me the finger, but that’s how it seemed to me. I tried a few gentle honks, still to now avail. When I finally managed to pass him, he all of a sudden started chasing me – family, cell phone, and all. I had a long day, and despite my best efforts to emulate Hillel HaZokein, I felt a rage inside me, control I couldn’t keep – I slammed down my brakes, and did not release them until Mr. Cell phone’s nose was a mere few inches of my rear bumper. Nu, I’m not sure if you ever saw a black man become pale, but I did. He stayed inert for a few long moments, probably absorbing the sad reality that not only his brand new BMW, but his entire family, himself and even his darling cell phone were just a heartbeat away from becoming mashed potatoes. I can’t remember what I was thinking at the time, but if I imagined that he would take responsibility for his irresponsibility, I was wrong. He started chasing after me. If you want blood, you’ve got it, I thought to myself, and waited for him to reach me. This time, however, my father’s image emerged in front of my eyes, preventing me from sinning again. So when the bloke actually pulled up to and unleashed a quite impressive, long and juicy string of curses and obscenities – which, I must say, still paled in comparison to what I was preparing from him – I held myself back and calmly said: “Sir, I tried to signal you over ten times to let me pass. You had more than twenty opportunities to do so. You were constantly yammering on the phone, endangering yourself, your family and other drivers. So instead of cursing me, you should thank me for teaching you a good lesson. Next time please drive on the right.” With that, I drove away, never to see him again.
Sadly, I have the impression that all too many of our leaders are driving their communities in the same manner. Slowing down the left lane, not letting anyone pass, obfuscating traffic and progress.