The Travel Channel ran some special this past week on Deadly Highways, and it scored a couple of points with me. For one thing, they didn't constantly cut to some insurance weasel explaining how it is that yes, it's tragic that these things happen, and it's so unfortunate that it causes, um, upward adjustment in people's premiums. (One of the reasons I signed with my present insurance carrier is that it's owned by Berkshire Hathaway, and whatever else you may think of BH boss Warren Buffett, he's not known for greed.) If I need self-serving twaddle, I can write it myself, thank you very much.

The other thing that struck me was the extended (but not too extended) segment on the phenomenon known as "road rage." Now I'm a fairly intemperate individual by nature, having been frustrated six point something days out of seven most of my life and generally being unwilling to suffer fools at all, let alone gladly, but I've never had this particular feeling come over me, and I've driven a lot of miles over the years. And God knows there's no shortage of fools on the road, from dimwitted drones in $500 sedans with $1000 stereos turned up past eleven, to procrastinators who should have started their trips twenty minutes earlier, to anticrastinators who have never experienced the modest joys of top gear. Given my usual reactions to such people in other circumstances, it's a wonder to me that I haven't felt compelled to open fire on the bastards, let alone cut them off in the $200 lane.

One bit of the "road rage" segment involved a moron in a Porsche 924 (I think) Turbo who was pulled over three times in one day in Fairfax County, Virginia for driving like a damn fool. The third time was the charm, and they ultimately hauled him away, but it would have been instructive to see him in action, just to see what sort of misbehavior draws the attention of the gendarmes outside D.C. (Someday, after all, I may have to drive through Fairfax County.) And another bit involved people throwing hissy fits, or worse, when being presented with tickets, which can't possibly be useful; it's been twenty-odd years since I've gotten a ticket, which is not to say that it's been twenty-odd years since I've done anything to deserve one, but it's never occurred to me to be anything other than politely apologetic in the face of The Man. Part of this, I think, is self-criticism: I consider myself a 60th, maybe 65th-percentile driver, which is above average but not inspiringly so, and I am very unhappy with myself when I do things I think are unnecessarily stupid.

It's probably a good thing I'm thinking about these things, what with a four-thousand-mile road trip staring me in the face, but I don't think I need to worry a whole lot about road rage — my own, anyway. Now those other clowns out there, well, that's another story entirely.

The Vent

8 June 2003

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