Tuesday, September 3

What I Love About...

…Driving in Lexington:  absolutely nothing.

Well, relatively speaking I love everything about driving in Lexington compared to driving solely on Man O War.  

I really just hate driving in cities.  I realized yesterday as I plowed around rural Lee County on my mountain bike that biketopia is rural areas and rural areas is biketopia.  Even busy rural roads are less stressful than dealing with the lightest urban traffic.  And I think I understand why now.

Last week I came across this Guardian article and it brings up some interesting points.  

Firstly, Research shows that drivers more readily dehumanise other drivers and pedestrians in ways they wouldn't when interacting in person. This loss of inhibition is similar to the way some of us behave inonline environments.

I don’t know why all the hate for online environments.  I never lose my inhibitions when socializing on the internet.  Ever.

Anyway, I think we can all identify with this phenomenon.  Have you ever talk to another driver and referred to them by their make and model?  “C’mon Toyota!  It’s on the right!”  Or “Oh really?!  You’re going to merge into me without giving a signal Prius?!?!”  We all do it.  I did it very effectively here by referring to all aggressive/stupid motorists as “moto-fascists.”  I realized that by using such an outrageous term for them that not only was I dehumanizing my subject matter but I was also diminishing my own venom by making them a hopped up caricature without much real-world reference.

But the next point that really struck home was this: “Decades of research shows that prolonged honking, tailgating, and other aggressive behaviours are more likely if the aggressor believes they are the more important driver.  

I would also add that it is also true if the aggressor believes they are the more important road user.  I firmly believe this is why moto-fascists act aggressively toward cyclists and pedestrians.  There is the underlying cultural norm in our society of believing that those who do not travel by car cannot travel by car and therefore are of a much lower status than even the scruffiest of motorists.  This is the fundamental conflict between the automobile and the rest of the universe.  When someone gets behind the wheel in our society they automatically adopt the commonly held belief (that’s been cultivated for decades by those that love the car) that no one in their right mind would choose to travel by any means other than an SOV.  

It’s interesting to me that in a culture that prides itself in its mastery of freedom that when someone exhibits their free will and ability to think for themselves and make choices that don’t reflect blind adherence to conformity that culture pressures us into marginalizing them.  Like I say too often our contemporary common understanding of “freedom” is skewed.  
Anyway, I exercised my freedom to express my opinion this morning.  Due to a water main break at Alumni and Perimeter our offices have no water.  None.  Nada.  This became painfully apparent when the cubicle drones began filing in and discovered there was to be no coffee this morning.  All productivity (potential that is) ground to a screeching halt.

“It’s a sign Bob,” I said to my (temporary) immediate supervisor.

“What’s that?”  I was about to hit him unawares.

“Perfect weather on the same day as a water main break…that never happens.  It’s a sign from God.  Call it.  Send us home.”

Bob considered this for about three seconds before laughing.  I retreated momentarily to my cube.

“Cholera,” I said, poking my head over the cubicle wall.

“Cholera?” he asked with a confused look on his face.

“Yeah,” I explained, “Years from now you’re going to regret that we all came down with cholera because you didn’t send us home today.  Don’t you get that when there’s not a good water source for sanitation purposes?”

A minute or so later I walked past Bob’s desk.  I called out over my shoulder as I headed for the door:

“I’m on my way out to harass the utility workers.  Maybe I can delay the repairs.”

“Wait a minute!”  Maybe I had crossed a line.

“C’mon Bob, this is cruel and unusual punishment.  What if I have to…y’know, go to the bathroom?  Call it.  Send us home.  You know you wanna.  Call it.  Call it.  Call it [snaps fingers in rhythm to my I-wanna-hooky chant]. Call it [snap].  Call it [snap].  Call it [snap].  Call it [snap].  Cholera.”

Despite my diligent efforts we did not get a hooky day today.  I actually had to drive about a mile to find a public restroom at one point.  I think I’m going to claim the mileage. That was the original impetus of this post.  That, and it’s been a long time since my last three post day.

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