Saturday, May 16, 2009

Honk! A Word or Five About Driving

This is not my blog post about driving. This is a brief word to Kevin and Tasha, who vetted this essay before I posted it. Guys, I had no idea that "gerbil" was already in use as a verb. Here's what I mean by "gerbiling":

In other words, it's the act of stuffing one's cheeks to the point that they pooch out. You've seen Alice's boys' gerbils, Arnott and Tootoo, do that when we give them treats. BTW, Arnott and Tootoo are female. You want to tell Alice's boys? Me neither.

This is my blog piece about driving:

I have this friend who ended up working in Egypt right out of college. He told me that people over there use their car horns as a substitute for the brake pedal. I'm trying to imagine the typical Cairo driver trying that in Nashville and thinking he might get, oh, fifty feet before he ended up turtled on a median. It's not that we don't use our horns here. In fact, take more than a milisecond to be sure oncoming traffic has truly stopped before turning and you'll hear a chorus of beeps and honks that will make you wonder if someone has put a "Honk if you're irritable!" sticker on your bumper. Drivers around here also tend to use their horns to show support for various demonstrations on the hoof. I'll happily honk to show my love when people are waving signs. No problem. It's kinda fun.

What isn't fun is the honking I had to do yesterday. Twice. Have I said argh? Argh. How do I put this? People get on the road and they're pointing and shooting this large mass of glass, metal and plastic at speeds of at least 40mph in town and you would think that would be sufficient to keep them fully engaged. No. Yesterday a couple in a van were arguing and on cell phones and driving. They whipped around the cars ahead of them and in and out of lanes, didn't like where they were, and whipped in and out again. Rinse and repeat. I finally held my breath, honked until I saw both heads swivel in my direction and then pulled around them (they were stopped kitty cornered across two lanes) so I could be on my way. Thirty minutes later a guy in a truck pulled out into the middle of an intersection, stopped and proceeded to unwrap and gerbil a hamburger as big as his head. When the light changed and it was my turn, I waited a minute for him to move on. Much to the displeasure of the people behind me, he was too engrossed with his food to move and so I had to honk until he looked up so I would be sure he wasn't going to suddenly realize where he was and T-bone me.

This is frustrating to me because it makes me feel like I'm coming off as ragey when I am in fact terrified. I know, it's all fun and games and texting and eating food the missus won't let you have because you're on nine medications until someone gets hurt. I don't want that someone to be me or anyone else for that matter. So here's the thing. Driving just is not conducive to multitasking. If you have something better to do than drive, please go do it. The road will still be there when you're finished.

copyright 2009 Jas Faulkner


andrea said...

Love the gerbil names.

jas faulkner said...

Thanks! There is another non-human Tootoo among my friends' pets. This one is a chinchilla who likes to jump on his owner's other pat, a cat named Mildred Fierce.

Phyl said...

I'd love to see the use of cell phones in cars banned altogether. Just for starters.

I'm glad you made it through all that in one piece!