A familiar driver

If you spend a lot of time commuting, you have seen something just like this guy.

Maybe you’re trapped behind a semi and he’s the one zooming around you despite your blinker and your patient wait for passing room. Maybe you were already passing, in which case he’s riding your bumper like you hitched him up, eager to dart through a gap approximately six inches larger than his own car. Maybe you’re stopped altogether and he’s rolling the shoulder.

In any scenario the common denominator is that you are In His Way, much like one of these unfathomable stacks of pixel and polygon:

Same concept, really. Jack Baruth quotes the Last Psychiatrist’s definition of narcissism, that the narcissist is the star of his own movie. Even that, I think, might sell it short, unless the movie is an epic in a Cinematic Universe and he’s the only one with standalone films. But watching that fool in the race video slaloming around all the other drivers put me much more in mind of a video game player. After all, in a movie there may be one major star but the other characters are, at least, characters… in a video game a person might be the only actual human player, and everyone else around him is by definition obstacles to surmount: some enemy to dispatch, or someone whose sole purpose to exist is to give him the geegaw that completes a quest or lets him defeat the level boss. Or worst of all, just something that is stupidly, pointlessly blocking his way when he has Important Him Stuff to be done.

Well, eff you for being In His Way.

I will admit that I haven’t read the comments there yet, so I don’t know if one of those folks has made either of these connections. I was away for a week and missed the column at the time. Still worth bringing up here not only for the video game player angle, but also because it was the first thing I noticed when I was watching the embed at Riverside Green… this guy didn’t notice that suddenly he was torching a track full of cars? Even from the camera I could see the flags he tore past, but more to the point, I also saw that very few, if any, of the other drivers were trying to block him or – and this is key – pass each other. Sure, he’s dusting them so in his mind, haha, they can’t catch me… but they would also be trying to move up all around him. Even in a racing game the CPU drivers are jockeying with each other for position.

So in one way, this guy is worse than a video game player because even that detail misses his notice. But beyond this, I brought up commuting because anyone with even passing familiarity with highway driving recognizes the signs of a whole roadway slowing down, even in mid-pass: it means the State Patrol is waiting on the shoulder, harvesting the ignorant. So even if this gentleman was just a dabbler in his very first road race, he should have picked up on this. It takes no skill. All you need to do is not be obsessed with what’s going on in your own imagination.

(As an added wrinkle – I was on an out-of-state trip to visit with family when I missed Jack’s post. It’s a substantial, all-day-in-the-car affair to make the trip, more apt a comparison to an endurance race like the one shown than is a daily commute, even a lengthy one. You have to keep aware at all times. If the trip’s 12 hours, it’s not good enough to be crash-free for 11:58 and then tell everyone “Eh, what can you do, right?” while they airflight out the family in the minivan you crushed. You are the jockey, not the horse, and cannot drive with blinders on.)

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