Pedal to the Medal

So, I am a pizza delivery guy.  I am a 43 year old pizza delivery guy.  I mean, I am a pastor, that’s my calling, but no one is presently seeing fit to pay me to perform that particular task.  I am also a life coach and I maintain a small handful of clients who pay me handsomely for my services.  But in terms of where the bulk of my time is spent professionally and the bulk of where my income stems from, I am a 43 year old pizza delivery guy.  And that’s okay.  It’s less than ideal… but it’s okay.  I am following a dream and it demands certain sacrifices and I am more than willing to make those sacrifices.  It doesn’t have much of an effect on my pride; although, every now and then, on a night when it is 7:30 and I have done three deliveries and made $11 and I am biding my time in a hot-ass kitchen strewn with ear-piercing Spanish music and a bevy of Mexican kitchen guys yelling at each other, I do have moments of asking myself, “What in the holy hell am I doing here?”  But that is not the norm.  As job-jobs go, it’s a reasonably simple one.  Most everybody is pleasant to be around and the money isn’t too bad.  But the main reason that being a 43 year old pizza delivery guy doesn’t bother me is that it gives me the opportunity to drive.  And I love to drive.

I mean, I love it.  Sometimes, I jump in my car and just drive.  I’m not headed anywhere in particular, I just want to drive.  When I have a commitment or an appointment somewhere, the farther away the better.  Just more time to cruise the highways and byways (I don’t know what a byway is by the way.  I just know it’s a real thing) listening to my tunes or a book on audible.  Actually it is generally always audible now.  If you don’t know, audible is a free app on which you can buy books to have read to you.  It is books on tape for the new generation.  I have always been an avid reader, but I never suspected how much I would enjoy being read to.  Audible has completely ruined traditional reading for me.  I literally can no longer sit and turn the pages of a traditionally bound book and simply read.  But that is neither here nor there.  I just straight up dig being in the car.  Well, I straight up dig driving a car.  I loathe being a passenger.  And being a passenger in the back seat?  Screw that, I’ll stay home.  But with me at the wheel, life is good.  There are few things I enjoy more than a good ol’ fashioned road trip.  Twenty-three hours in a car, especially in one straight shot, especially through the night (I friggin’ love driving at night) is utter nirvana.  My pop loves driving and I suspect that’s where I get it from.  Some of my fondest childhood memories are long road trips that we took together.  There’s nothing like being on a long stretch of highway with no one else in sight in the at, like, three in the morning, totally silent, having already logged five or six hundred miles in a car strewn with mountain dew and Snapple bottles and empty wrappers from bags of trail mix and skittles and Swedish fish, and just watching the world pass by.

I am aware that my love of driving is something less than a mind-blowing pronouncement, but the fact is, I find my relationship with driving sort of interesting and, hopefully, worth writing about.  I mean, just the very idea of owning a car is pretty remarkable.  Think about it.  There is a machine in my driveway that will take me anywhere I want to go at somewhere between 40 and 70 miles an hour anytime I have somewhere to go.  What’s more, it can play music for me as I travel.  It will make me warm if it is cold and cool if it is hot.  The seats adjust to make me as comfortable as possible.  It has lights that go on when it grows dark outside.  And it can house up to five people at a time.  And I have TWO of them.  That is a miracle.  For thousands of years, the greatest princes and monarchs and royalty and multi-millionaires of every shape and size could not obtain, or even dream, of such a luxury.  Consider the following words describing King Solomon’s wealth:

Used anciently, Talents were a measure of weight and money. A talent weighs roughly 75 U.S. pounds (34.3 kilograms), which is equal to 1,094 troy ounces. At $1,500 per troy ounce, a talent of gold in today’s value is worth $1,641,000. At $1,600 per troy ounce, a talent is worth $1,750,400. Solomon received 666 talents of the metal EACH YEAR. This means the value of what he got each year was between $1,092,906,000 and $1,165,766,400 U.S. dollars!

And yet, King Solomon wasn’t able to get his hands on even a single used beat-to-shit Ford Fiesta.

But regardless of how remarkable it is that I have a car, I just flat out love the experience of driving.  There is just something about having total control of 4,ooo pounds of steel and aluminum that gives me a feeling of great power.  Which, in and of itself, is a little weird.  Instead, it should probably scare the shit out of me.  Especially considering that there are hundreds of 4,000 pound hunks of steel and aluminum looming next to me and in front of me and behind me also traveling at 60 miles an hour at any given time.  Think of the incredible level of trust we humans are daily placing into each other as we travel to our individual destinations.  We are all behind the wheel of deadly weapons.  In almost all cases, I don’t know the drivers of any of the cars surrounding me at any given time.  I know nothing about them.  I don’t know what kind of days they are having.  I don’t know if they have rage issues.  I don’t know if they are stable.  I don’t know if they have been prescribed meds that they are not taking.  I don’t know if there are chemicals that they have not been prescribed that they ARE taking.  And any one of them, for any reason at all, could make the impulsive decision to end my life and proceed to go about doing it with relative ease.

And, quite frankly, I’m not sure why they don’t.  Because I am kind of a dick on the road.  I am not proud of this fact.  I’m not particularly shameful about it either.  It’s just true.  I rarely drive the speed limit.  I just don’t like driving slow and I am not fond of those who do.  I am not a lunatic, mind you.  But you will generally find me doing 70 in a 55 or 45 in a 30.  When I am driving in a single lane and someone in front of me is meandering along at a speed that I deem unreasonable, I wait for the straightaway, and utilize the opposite positioned lane to zip around them.  I interact with stop signs as suggestions rather than commands.  I always slow down and check both ways, of course, but I am king of the rolling stop.  And as far as four-way stops go (the dumbest idea for driving we have come up with since the roundabout.  And I’m saying roundabout because that’s what most people call them.  But if you come from Jersey, they are called circles.  And that is what they should be called… circles.  Roundabout sounds like some idiotic contraption in a British playground.)  At a four-way stop, I don’t care whose turn it is.  As long as I don’t see anybody give any indication of motion, I gun it.  As for traffic lights, as long as the color is amber at the time the nose of my car enters the intersection, I am all good to continue on my way.  If I suddenly realize that my off ramp is just ahead and I am stuck in the middle lane, I am getting in front of the person to my right no matter how close they are to me and whether they like it or not.  Further, I am quite prone to road rage.  That is to say that if the guy to the back and right of me decides that the guy in front of him is driving too slow and decides to rectify this by cutting in front of me, I am following that guy as far down the highway as I need to, even if it means passing my exit ramp, to return the favor.  And then, of course, sometimes, in similar situations, in which the person to the back and right of me decides to make such a move and I happen to see it coming, I will pull up flush next to the guy to my right and maintain whatever speed he is going so that the guy in back is stuck and forced to maintain his speed.  On top of all this, as I drive, my phone is pretty much always in my hand.  Sometimes so that I can change music selections, sometimes so that I can answer a text, sometimes so that I can view an email, and often so that I can play solitaire or can knockdown.  Along with my phone twiddling, I am also generally managing some sort of beverage and taking regular hits off my vape (I put down the little cigars I was inhaling and bought one of these ridiculous machines that are most often found in the hands of trendy teens who I’d like to run over, back up and then run over again.  But it seems to be helping.)  I never have more than one hand on the wheel, and rarely even have all five fingers of that hand on the wheel.  Often the heel of my right hand is the extent of my extremities interacting with the wheel.  Actually, if I have a passenger, sometimes I have no hands on the wheel as I let them steer the car as I take care of some sort of task that could probably have waited until I stopped.  In similar situations, sans passenger, I have also been known to drive with my knees.  These are not good things, I know.  If you are concerned about me, you have a right to be.  I often tell myself, if not promise myself, that I will stop doing these things.  And yet, they persist.  The thing is, I am a really good driver.  Not in the classical sense, of course.  Based on all the data above, I am a very bad driver.  What I mean is, I control a car very effectively.  I have excellent instincts and reaction time.  Yes, these are the famous last words of the guy in the heinous car wreck.  Just bear in mind, I am not defending myself here… just being honest.

There is something about driving that my psyche reads as inherently competitive.  Not overtly, mind you.  I don’t drive around with the conscious thought that I am engaged in competition.  Though it has been proven in various studies that the experience of having a car behind you strikes us psychologically as winning, being ahead in the race, even though there is no race.  Similarly, the experience of being behind another car psychologically feels like losing, being behind in the race, even though there is no race.  It has been shown that this occurs across all gender, racial, and generational boundaries.  Not everyone responds to this reality in the same manner, of course, and some feel it more intensely than others.  I am almost never the guy on the highway going the fastest, nor am I ever attempting to be that guy.  And yet when someone within my general vicinity speeds up, I find that I have the instinct to do likewise.  When someone in front of me is going too slow, it feels like a personal attack, as if they have located my want to go faster and have chosen to bate me by driving under the allotted speed limit.  I find this fascinating.  Especially because I have no knowledge whatsoever of who is driving these cars and yet still find myself capable of making judgments about them.

One thing I have discovered is that anyone cutting in front of me on the highway, cutting in and out of lanes in a way that effects me, or riding too close to my tail is, to my brain, the same person.  He is a man in his late thirties, early forties.  He has a lot of money and his wealth makes him excruciatingly arrogant.  He has a massive sense of entitlement and he is a staunch misogynist.  He swears like a sailor and wears ray-bans even when it is downcast.  He wears silk shirts and loafers without socks.  He is prone to refer to most other men as “boss” or “chief” and most women as “honey” or “babe.”  Every time I find myself in a situation with an antsy or impatient or straight up douche bag driver, I am absolutely convinced it is him.  So it has often been to my great embarrassment to chase this asshole three miles down the highway only to reach a red light and find out that it is a tiny little Chinese woman with two kids who is lost.  Whats-more, even if I pulled up to the car and it was, indeed, the exact guy I just described, what right do I have to be angry with him?  Whatever he did to piss me off is something I often do myself.  So what’s up with that?  Do I think that there should be a different set of road rules for me than for everyone else?  There is certainly no other area in my life where I entertain such an idea.  But with driving?   Yeah, a little bit.  Because the only thing, and I mean the only thing, that I do not love about driving is other drivers.  They’re all just in my way, crowding and jamming up this lovely passion of mine.  It would be like someone who has a passion for flying kites.  Certainly, for them, standing in the middle of a park on a sunny day with a nice cooling wind watching their kite dance and twirl through the clouds would be a sheer delight.  But if all of a sudden, there were seventy-nine other people with kites standing within ten feet of them, as their kites crowd and clutter the sky keeping the guys kite from skittering through the sky in the way that it wishes, that would sort of suck.  Do I think that there should be a national ordinance that no one may use their cars during times that I have chosen to be on the road?  I don’t know if there SHOULD be; but I would sign the petition if someone started it up.

Additionally, the overall experience of driving fits my likes and dislikes in a splendidly concurrent manner.  For example, I have a need to be around other people, but I am a natural introvert who prefers solitude.  In a car, I am alone as well as being around a host of others.  I feel the need to experience the beauty of the outside world, but I much prefer staying inside.  In a car, I am outside but I am inside.  I am drawn to the idea of moving very fast, but my instincts run toward immobility.  In a car, I am moving swiftly while sitting absolutely still.  It’s my own personal world in which all my needs are essentially met, other than the need to occasionally stop to relieve myself or fuel up.

I don’t know how to drive a stick and I do not wish to know how to drive a stick.  I tend to manage too much crap simultaneously in a car at any given point already.  I don’t need an extra task to fret over.  I have been driving an SUV for years now.  I think I am on my fourth.  It sucks for the environment and it eats gas like a stoned mastodon, but I gotta tell ya, once you get up off the ground that way, it’s hard to go back down again.  When I sit in a standard car now, I feel like I am sitting on the floor.  With that said, my vow to you, gentle reader, is that the SUV will be a far as it goes.  I will never be the scumbag in the Dodge Ram.  I promise.

My main gripes with cars is that they require maintenance.  I think that’s bullshit.  If you are paying ten thousand dollars or more for something, it should not require maintenance.  If you spent ten grand on a painting, it just hangs in your house looking beautiful for ever.  You don’t need to bring it into the shop every three months so someone can touch up the pastels.  I have a theory that the ability to make cars in which all the parts on the car will last for the life of the car is well within the ability of the manufacturers, but there is some kind of pressure placed on them by the body shops that keeps it from happening.  You laugh now, but you’ll see… I’m right about this.  I’m completely offended when some grease monkey tells me that I need to give him three thousand dollars to fix the thing that I spent twelve thousand dollars on.  What the hell is that?  Gas, too.  I think gas is a crock.  There isn’t a doubt in my mind that the technology exists to make a car that runs on dishwater, but the damned oil companies would never allow it too happen.  Okay, okay, I get it that I am starting to sound like Oliver Stone.

I suppose this blog could just have been a single line reading, “I really love driving.”  But it’s not.  It’s all the crap I wrote preceding this line.  It didn’t feel like something I had to write.  It just felt like something I wanted to write.  Whether or not you wanted to read it… well, that’s another story entirely.  Either way, if you’re reading this, than you have.  If you regret having done so, I apologize for having wasted fifteen minutes of your life.  I’ll try to make the next one better.  In the meantime, go take a drive.  That should soothe you.

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