Saturday, October 28, 2006


Tonight on the ride home I had the distinct non-pleasure of having to piss off a proud BMW owner even more than he was evidently already pissed off. It was right after the York toll there on I-88, where all of the lanes merge down from 4 to 3 lanes.

I used to be one of those angry guys who'd sit there in the lane that gets merged into, shaking my fist at all of the people flying by on my left, thinking "if only you'd get in NOW, I wouldn't be stuck in all of this!" Years of driving in Chicagoland has taught me that nothing could be further from the truth; that you might as well be "that guy" who's flying by on the left, because there are literally thousands who will fill the void like water if you're not in it. All you accomplish by sitting in the slow lane is growing more gray hairs and possibly giving yourself a coronary.

Which is what Mr. BMW was evidently doing. Now, keep in mind, I too had been sitting in craptacular traffic all the way home, just on a different highway than him. Evidently he had picked that merge point where we met to take a stand. NOT ONE CAR MORE gets in front of me! Or something like that I guess. I've been doing this whole driving thing long enough (about 300k miles in the past 10 years) to learn that unless I'm up against someone with my seasoning (like guys in semis), I'm going to get merged into that lane whether the guy next to me wants me there or not.

I even sat back about 6 car lengths, to allow the cars ahead of me at the merge point time to get in, so I didn't add to the stack that was piling up by the time I got there. But when it came my turn to merge, my "shuffle" spot was between a car full of girls and a BMW 330xi. And he was intentionally hugging the bumper of the car in front, and even accelerated when he saw me coming. I had tried to find a "soft" target to merge into without incident, but there weren't any holes, and that's where I found myself at the time.

As I said, I've done this enough times and dealt with enough jerks in slow crawling traffic to know how to wedge myself in there, only BMW guy wouldn't give up. Not letting me in became a herculean task. He revved his engine loudly, surged forward a lot, stood on the horn, etc. Keep in mind we're all doing about 15 mph here. I just do what I always do: Put the car on an angle, and start easing over, and never back off. It's easy when your car is "old and crappy" and theirs retails for over $32 grand. They have an incentive to slide back and out of the way.

Only he refused to do it. I had the option of either getting on the brakes, and backing up traffic even worse, or hoping that BMW guy would realize he's being a huge tool in the face of my mild dickery and back off. He eventually was halfway into the other lane (still refusing to back up a bit to let me in), and finally relented.

But now he was angry! I waved politely (and yes, smugly) to thank him for letting me in, and it enraged him (as I expected it might). He whipped over onto the shoulder, and zoomed up next to me, and gave me an angry glare! I was already riding the bumper of the car in front of me from when I merged in, so there was no way he could try and return the favor, so what did he do? He gunned it up ahead and cut off the carfull of the girls in front of me. Now they're standing on the horn, slamming on the brakes, and flashing their brights at him.

Oh, the ironies.

But he wasn't done! He repeatedly tried to pull alongside of me for the next 8 miles or so and would roll down his window. Maybe he wanted to yell at me some? I really don't know. I didn't think he had anything that would really add anything positive to the situation, so I just ignored him. I'd occassionally smile and wave to him from time to time, because, hey, if you're going to stare at me that much, I will do my best to give my adoring fans what they want. I should keep autographed photos handy for these kinds of occasions. He eventually calmed down and gave up trying to talk to me at 70mph out his window, as if we could have an engaging discussion, and returned to driving like a normal human.

The funny thing was that we both got off at the same exit. Here I thought maybe he was going to follow me home, as he followed me through the short-cut to avoid the train crossing, but I guess we both just live in the same 5-10 mile radius.

Am I a dick? Most certainly, but in that driving environment, you pretty much have to be if you don't want to get eaten alive. The sad thing is that if the situations were reversed, I would have let him in. I always let one car in, at any given merge, even if they stack 8 lanes on top of each other, unless they are being a complete cock and driving so aggressively that they're going to get someone killed.

My hope is that Captain BMW calmed down enough to realize that keeping that one car from getting in front of you is never worth it. Ever. I used to be that guy, and it's not a healthy place to be. Here's to you, BMW Guy. May you figure out how to lose that road rage, and maybe we can meet someplace someday and have a beer and a laugh over it.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Hiro Protagonist

Okay, if you're not watching NBC's Heroes, get off of your collective assbutts and get that show on the T(i)V(o). While it still has the plodding and awkwardness of a pilot series trying to find its voice/look, it is starting to feel like a show that could wade in against an X-Files or Lost.

And I love that the space/time bender is named Hiro. One of my favorite books has a guy named Hiro (see title).

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