29 December 2008

Cars are Cars

I'm not, and never was, a car guy. I don't understand how they work, and I don't much care about what I drive -- as long as it starts when it's supposed to and gets me where I want to go.

Indeed my daughters (9 and 13) and wife (no age necessary) are far better than I at identifying a wide variety of makes and models on the road. (For example, in Cleveland this past weekend celebrating Christmas with my family at my older brother's home, we played a game called Memory Madness, a "category" game that requires each team/player to give an example of the category until someone can't offer another example or repeats an earlier offering or gives a wrong answer. As early as the third go around for the "Car Models" category, while those around me were offering a veritable alphabet soup of "LX500," "H3," and "CRV," I was already falling back on the Dodge Dart.)

I never learned to drive a stick because, no matter how much "more fun" it is, it seems an unnecessary burden to be clutching and shifting all the time -- and, as my tap dance teacher will readily attest, coordination is not my strong suit.

In any event, "clutching and shifting" sounds like something folks should do in the back seat!

Even as I readily embrace the ease of the automatic transmission, I DETEST cruise control. The one thing all drivers should do is control their own speed, and those who rely on cruise control when driving long distances on the highway, and especially when seemingly compelled to set it, forget it, and yet remain in the far left lane... well, just revoke their licenses. Too often, because they can now ignore everything except what's in front of them, they tend to forget to check behind them. Face it, no matter how high they've set their speed, there's a chance that someone might want to pass them, and it's not their place to say "This is fast enough."

As I always tell my girls,"The job of every driver is to follow the rules of the road as safely and yet as efficiently as possible." So, if you have the right of way, it very rarely is safe or efficient to yield that to someone else, since there's a real good chance that the others on the road are counting on you to do what you're supposed to do not whatever whim you feel like indulging. Thus, if you're first in line at a stop light, it's your job to pay attention to it and move as soon as possible after that light turns green -- not only after you've decided who in the on-coming lane has waited long enough over there and should go before you. Follow the rules, and all will get their turn.

(Relatedly, while I'm no fan of cellphone use by drivers, I am befuddled by the distinction in CT and other states that makes my holding a cellphone illegal while I can hold a drink, a sandwich, or a balloon, for that matter, and not break any laws. If I were a scofflaw, I'd simply place my phone in a paper cup and talk into the cup. Take that, coppers!)

One can't end a posting on cars without citing Paul Simon's "Cars are Cars" from the best Paul Simon album ever, 1983's Hearts and Bones:

Some of my cars have been more like a home;
I lived in it, loved in it, polished its chrome.
Some of my homes have been more like a car;
I probably wouldn't have traveled this far

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