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Jon Mark Beilue column - Posted August 26, 2016 10:24 a.m.
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Artwork by Andy Chase Cundiff

The unpardonable sins of terrible driving

The world would be a better place if everyone were as good a driver as I am. I’m so good I don’t even have to pay attention.

Back before cell phones, I could read an entire sports section with the hard copy of the newspaper placed strategically over the steering wheel while zipping along I-40 at breakneck speed with coffee and a granola bar. For some reason, this annoyed my wife, who would plead and then finally yell at me to quit.

So I did – driving, that is. She got behind the wheel and I read.

If I’m not a perfect driver, it’s got to be close. It’s mostly everyone else who’s a frustrating pain. Not you, of course, but everyone else. There are a few things that, if I weren’t a complete gentleman in the car, would cause much-deserved road rage.

These heinous crimes of the road really get under my skin:

Headlights on my neck: It’s bad enough dealing with someone who doesn’t dim his lights while passing by each other, but the jackwagon who drives 20 feet behind me at night, usually in a Ford F350, is worse.

Either the vehicle is mounted high or the beams are on high, but, either way, I’m bathed in light as he decides to ride my tail for a minute or more. He can see any moles and freckles on the back of my neck. Hey, buddy, can you see the fingernail of my middle finger? Pass, for crying out loud.

Inconsistent speed: Speaking of passing, we’ve all passed the car on the highway only to have him speed up to pass you, and then only to slow down and you pass him back. I really don’t want to do some kind of SUV leap frog for the next 20 miles.

Cruise control is your friend. Embrace it. I don’t care if you do 90 mph or 30 mph, but pick one and stay with it.

Cell phone at the red light: Cell phones while driving don’t bother me as much as cell phones at red lights. Invariably, I get behind some clown staring at her phone, oblivious to the red light having changed to green until the car in front of her is 30 yards down the road. Meanwhile, I’m throwing out multi-syllable words two cars behind. Of course, she guns it to get through the intersection leaving me at the next red light.

Don’t stop!: A merge onto the interstate is just that, a merge. I don’t see a stop sign, do you? Then don’t stop! We’re all going to get crushed like an accordion because Gramps is coming to a complete and full stop in the merge lane.

No signal: I’m about to pull out onto a main street from a residential street. There’s a car making its way on the main street, just close enough that I decide to wait until he passes. Only he doesn’t pass.

He turns right, at the street I’m on. Come on, dillweed, use your signal.

No courtesy wave: I’m on a packed street or parking lot and some guy is just begging to get in line with the rest of us. Being the nice guy, I allow him in. Or, I’m on a two-lane and scoot to the shoulder to let Dale Earnhardt, Jr., get past.

Either way, I don’t get the courtesy wave. What’s with that? The only reason I let him in was to get the courtesy wave and affirmation at what a nice guy I am. What kind of society do we live in when we don’t get the courtesy wave?

The universal gripe: This is everyone’s pet peeve, but needs to be mentioned. It’s the driver who hauls pass me, gets in my lane and then slows down as the intersection is right there.

What’s worse, he’s in the right lane and is going straight while I want to turn right. So I have to wait for the light to turn green. Steam is pouring out my ears.

Taking up two parking spots: Not exactly driving, but it involves a car. It’s always in a crowded lot, and nearly always involves a vehicle that’s worth north of $40,000 whose driver thinks, well, nothing about him stinks.
I’ve been known to leave a rather snarky note on the windshield, writing furiously while my wife is saying, “Let it go! Let it go! What if he sees you?”

Honking: Now, I can honk at you, but you better not honk at me. That’s because I probably didn’t do anything wrong, and on the very small chance I did, I had a good reason. Leave me alone.

by Jon Mark Beilue

Jon Mark Beilue is an award-winning columnist for AGN Media. He can be reached at jon.beilue@amarillo.com or (806) 345-3318.
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