American Culture

Dear officer: it isn't my fault that Coloradans drive like dicks

To: The Broomfield, CO Police Officer Who Pulled Me Over the Other Night
From: Sam Smith
Re: Goddamned Colorado Drivers

To begin with, sir (I’m sorry that I didn’t catch your name while we were exchanging pleasantries, and my regards to your family, by the way), I’d like to thank you for only giving me a warning. I realize that you could have written me a citation, as I was clearly guilty of making a lane change without signaling. Twice. I would like to explain myself, however, by way of an observation or two about the state of driving (and manners) in Colorado, a beautiful place that confers motor vehicle operating privileges on any self-involved, belligerent jackhat who can schlep him or herself into a DMV office.

I did not signal for two reasons. First, there were no vehicles either in front of me or behind me within a distance where a signal could have possibly mattered. The closest traffic ahead of me was so far away I could have touched off a small-town fireworks display and they wouldn’t have noticed. As for the closest car behind me (that would have been you, probably 25 car lengths back – I know because I’d been aware that you were back there for a mile or so), I could have changed lanes, changed back, executed a 360 and done a couple barrel rolls, either with or without signaling, and it would have exerted as much influence on your life and bodily security as the position of Venus in retrograde with respect to Uranus. Not to put too fine a point on it, but you couldn’t have hit me if you’d had a rocket in the trunk of your patrol car.

I trust I’m communicating my personal suspicion that our whole interaction there on the side of Highway 287 was perhaps unnecessary, and I’m proud of myself for having made it this far without resorting to any mention of Deputy Barney Fife. I’m better than that.

But I digress.

Secondly, I wouldn’t have used a turn signal anyway. You know why? Because when you hit the turn signal in Colorado, the leprous puddle of gopher snot in the other lane will invariably stomp the pedal to cut you off, and the gods have mercy on any man, woman, child or wee furry beast fool enough to get in the way.

Why people out here drive this way I have no clue. It’s not like we’re in that big a hurry. It’s not like traffic is so bad that if one more car slips in front of you you’re going to be an hour late. We’re not generally an angry population (well, except for that crowd down in the Springs, anyway). But when it comes to driving, it’s like any attempt to change lanes in their county is an affront to their family’s honor.

Excuse me, can I move over up here?

What did you call my mother?!

This whole “you picked that lane, now die in it, bitch” culture is alien to me. I grew up in the South and was taught to be as polite on the road as I would be at a church social. You try and be neighborly when you’re behind the wheel. You move over to let people merge onto the expressway. If somebody waves and asks can they cut in front of you, you smile and wave them over. You don’t ride your fellow motorists down unless they have Obama stickers on their Priuses. (Priusi? Priusae?) And so on. Basic common courtesy.

Sure, Southern drivers have their quirks. All regions do, I suspect. I mean, back home everybody drives 14 miles an hour in the fast lane and whatever you do, don’t get behind one of those old bluehaired ladies who can barely see over the steering wheel of the Delta 88. I lived in Boston for awhile and those bastards are clinical sociopaths, pure and simple. Up there there are only two options: a) homocidal banshee-slash-Death Race 3000 wannabe, or b) roadkill. I’m sure you have complaints about the drivers in your neck of the woods, as well.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that the officer who pulled me the other night doesn’t have an important job to do. We need order on our highways. I mean, I’ve been to Italy, where the word for “autobahn” is the same as the word for “sidewalk.”

Again, officer, I appreciate you not writing me up when you were legally entitled. I guess I’m just asking that you and your colleagues sit down and discuss the possibility of treating the disease instead of slapping a bandaid on the symptoms. Frankly, I have nothing against turn signals. Truth is, I love turn signals. I remember fondly riding around, as a child, with my great-grandfather in his 1950s-era Buick. It smelled like the Golden Age of Detroit and the signals made this huge, industrial click-clank click-clank sound that modern engineers would do well to bring back because it evoked the glory of America’s love affair with driving. Hell, you’d go the long way around back then just to have an excuse to make more turns so you could hear that magical turn signal sound. Click-clank click-clank….

What I’m saying is, instead of pulling over the guy who doesn’t use his signal, next time how about pulling over the asshole who guns it as soon as he sees a signal. No warnings, either. Write the son of a bitch a ticket for whatever the catch-all violation is these days – I know the law has something in there that’s legal-speak for “driving like a dick.” Use it. Word will get around, and pretty soon motoring around our beautiful state will be as pleasurable an experience as hiking it.

Many thanks, and be safe out there.

5 replies »

  1. “This whole ‘you picked that lane, now die in it, bitch’ culture is alien to me.”
    A-bloody-men, Sam! They do this on 2-lane Baseline Road in Boulder, even! Like, “No way in hell am I letting you in if you didn’t have the good sense to pick this lane in the first place.” It’s ridiculous.

  2. Prii.

    The problem is that 3/4 of the currently licensed drivers in America have no business operating a motor vehicle. Or maybe it’s just that the only time i’m ever provoked to near vigilantism is to enforce “drive on the right except to pass”.

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