Too Close for Comfort

Why do some people drench themselves in overpoweringly pungent, nostril hair-burning perfume so that we must smell them coming? Why do others bellow into their cell phones while flushing the toilet in a public bathroom stall, behaving as if they were in a private phone booth? And most importantly, why do people tailgate? Yes, you are correct. People engage in such feats of stupidity because they are…stupers (short once again, for those astonishingly stupid persons).

Let’s discuss tailgaters.  But first, let’s discard those who purposefully, impatiently tailgate, as that requires thought and planning. I refer to the ones who mindlessly drive nose to bumper. Serial tailgaters, if you please.

I often drive on a winding, somewhat mountainous highway. One end leads to a ritzy, French Riviera style beach community. The other end lands at a pastry paradise-slash-Toon Town type tourist destination. As you may imagine, this highway is well traveled. And I am tailgated three out of five times. The speed limit is fifty-five miles per hour.   

Mindless tailgaters appear rather suddenly, whether I drive fifty-five or eighty-five mph(which I never do as that would be over the limit), and they stick to my rear bumper for no apparent reason. Tempting as it is to quick-slam on my endearingly sensitive, immediately responsive brakes, and then gleefully race away to teach the imbecile behind me a lesson, I can’t. I am a worthy role model for my children; I cannot allow them to see their mother behaving in such a manner, delightful as it may be for me. I just patiently wait for the dolt behind me to move into the passing lane. 

Just yesterday, a small truck closely followed me, heat-seeking, homing torpedo style. I drove sixty-two mph.  Please note that I have no bumper stickers for casual, while-you-drive reading nor is my rear bumper uniquely attractive. Yet, the tailgater persisted. The passing lane stretched out lonely and ignored; the truck didn’t budge. Its lips locked on my fender. I dropped my speed just a little.  Suddenly the truck driver awoke out of his stuper trance,  passed me and moved on.  

I think, as a whole, many people live a habitual, mindless rush of life. Thinking is virtually obsolete. These dimwitted drivers are mostly oblivious to the fact that they are tailgating.

Why is it necessary to stay close to the car in front? Perhaps these drivers experience insecurity in this big, scary world, particularly on the highways. Hence, the need to be attached to another by way of tailgating.

So what should we thinkers do? I like to leave plenty of room between the upfront driver and myself so that I may confidently brake, if necessary, in ample time. Especially if there’s a driver behind me who needs to establish some sort of connection. So rather than complain about the vacant minds floating about, let’s roll up our sleeves and practice diligent thought and patience. Maybe then, the meager minds will follow suit per the herd of sheep mentality: What one does, the others must do also. 

Thought turns the gears of life.


3 Responses to “Too Close for Comfort”

  1. jacqueline says:

    OK. I asked my family and it has been confirmed that I am not a serial tailgater. I just needed to know that.

    AND my biggest frustration in driving… the lack of turn signal usage! Really awful behavior!

  2. Julianne says:

    I love the distinction between thoughtful tailgaters and stupers. There is no doubt that it exists but, given the choice, I’m pretty sure I’d rather have a stuper tailing me on I-75.

  3. Norski says:

    Interesting Turing Test you’ve got there. I missed it the first time through, and lost my comment.

    Oh, well.

    I enjoyed your post on the tailgaters.

    On the Interstate, where I encounter most of them, I slow down gradually. Most will pass by the time I hit 45 mph, but I’ve had a few that didn’t (wake up?) until I was going 35, and edging onto the shoulder. Illegal? Quite possibly, but the other driver was dangerously close.

    Then the are the half-passers, but that’s another topic. Maybe.

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