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A FEW THOUGHTS ON DRIVING

In the course of my life I do quite a lot of driving, as I find that it helps enormously in getting to distant places. I would speculate that it would be problematic trying to hitchhike to, say, Calgary with several dozen guitars and various other bits of gear, but let's not dwell on that.

Anyway. I have known for many, many years that I am one of the very few sane drivers in this country. In fact, I am frequently the only sane driver that I encounter on a three or four hour trip. As such, I find it helpful to anticipate countless acts of potentially lethal stupidity from my fellow travelers, and I am rarely disappointed. Assume the worst, says I, and survive to drive another day.

You know the sort of thing I mean: Someone decides that pulling out on the highway directly in front of you is a dandy notion, and if it means that you have to stand on your brakes at the last minute and leave several pounds of Bridgestone in a steaming smear on the highway, well, what's the problem?

Or, someone in a great blasted huge semi decides that they need to pass you right now, and if it happens to be in a no-passing zone and your only shot at survival is to head for the rhubarb, so what?

One of my personal favourites is the kind of driver who may be labouring under the misapprehension that they are piloting some sort of two-thousand pound steel-and-fiberglass suppository, and that they have further mistakenly identified my rear bumper as the appropriate orifice into which they would insert themselves. Again, let's not dwell on that.

These sorts of things start me wondering just how some people get their licences, given that they show no comprehension of either the rules of the road or the correct operation of their vehicles. I hypothesize, therefore, that there are means of acquiring licences other than the rather mundane one of actually learning what is required. There may well have been pages missing from my driver's handbook with a list of alternate instructions, such as:

  • If you prefer, in lieu of a road test, you may simply purchase your licence for ten thousand dollars. Makes perfect sense to me. After all, if you can afford a Lincoln Navigator or a Hummer, what's another ten kilobucks?

  • Some driver's licences are hereditary. Sort of like passing on the title of Duke or Earl or whatever.

  • If you purchase certain brands of popular sugar-laden breakfast cereals, you will find as a bonus either a set of Wayne Gretzky hockey cards, a Stockwell Day Yo-Yo, or an Ontario Class-G Driver's Licence. Since I never buy cereal of that nature, this is of course sheer speculation, and by no means any sort of slander aimed at Kellog's, General Mills, Post, or any other of the manufacturers of teeth-chattering twitch-inducing nutrition-free breakfast-like quasi-food substances.

  • Once you have filled your Second Cup Coffee Club card, you may redeem it for either the large coffee beverage of your choice, or a valid Ontario Driver's Licence. Makes as much sense as anything, and besides, I go to Starbuck's.

  • Attention drivers: Just a reminder that posted speed limits are mere "suggestions", and in no way binding, and that likewise the use of turn signals is optional.

  • The use of high-beams is entirely discretionary, and you are at no time required to employ low-beams when facing oncoming traffic.

  • We recommend the use of seat belts, but if you prefer to have several dozen unrestrained children squirming and crawling all over you and your car as it hurtles down the highway at breathtaking speeds, that is entirely your business.

  • Since the government receives revenue from telephone usage, we urge you to make frequent use of your cell phone while driving, no matter how stressful or distracting such calls may be.

  • A "yellow" traffic signal actually warns you to accelerate quickly to get through the intersection, and the first second or two of a "red" traffic signal similarly means that you are to achieve maximum velocity in order to avoid the humiliation of actually coming to a full stop for sixty long seconds, because we know how darned important you really are.

  • Lastly, a "four-way stop" is our idea of having a little fun, because what we really want is for all of you out there to treat those intersections as a game of "chicken". Enjoy!

Well. I mean, really. Wouldn't the whole blasted thing make so much more sense if this were actually the case? Meanwhile, I'll be the guy oiling along the highway this summer within inches of the speed limit, maintaining a safe travelling distance, and signaling all lane changes and turns. You'll know me if you see me.I'll be sticking out like a sore thumb.

-Jon Park-Wheeler

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SC Alder / Computer Tamers
Nov/06