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By Jim Kempton
You know this situation: there are 18 cars squeezed into the left-turn lane. You are in the 10th slot, and this is the second signal you have waited through. The first one allowed nine cars through, so there is hope that it might be a little quicker this time. The green arrow appears. The first car enters into the intersection at the speed of the Mueller investigation. Why does it take the second car a full three car-lengths before it moves? Are they taking a DMV driving test?
Speed is a comparative thing, of course—like Einstein’s theory of relativity, those who drive slower than you want are stupid and those who drive faster than you want are crazy.
And people who honk the second the light turns green, can’t they see that we aren’t done returning the text message from the wife? Do they have no sense of priority?
Young people are the most notorious; they text while changing the shuffle on their Pandora and adjusting the side mirror. Every parent who has a 16-year-old knows their kids are texting in the car they borrowed from them. Of course, there is at least one easy way to keep your kids from texting while driving: buy them a stick shift.
I’m not making light of the dangers of texting while steering with your knees. It’s just that the kids have now learned to text with one hand, a danger no greater than trying to keep the ketchup from a double-beef Famous Star from dribbling down your shirt while trying to suck the Diet Coke out of one of those 48-ounce, plastic cups and keep one hand on the wheel. I mean, really, if anything should be outlawed, it is a frantic salesman with low blood sugar loading up on blistering hot French fries and a scalding cup of espresso at the Double Arches.
Of course, my wife and children will tell you that I have no room to talk—they claim I’m the worst driver in our clan, which they say includes all English-speaking people. They could be right. You have to admit your driving is bad when your GPS voice says, “In a quarter-mile, take the exit. Drive to the nearest curb and put it in park.”
Jim Kempton is a writer, surfer, chef and observer of our ubiquitous car culture. His strongest observation is that there is a reason drunk people love NASCAR.