Well, lucky you, Dear Readers. Today starts a new feature on Pick Wayne's Brain. It's where I finally start fulfilling my dream of being able to tell you about those idiots out there who don't know how to drive properly. Oh, the things I've seen. Worse still, the things I've heard about. Well, I'm going to tell you where some of your fellow citizens are going wrong. I'll introduce you to the vast array of Driver Types that I've created over the years (well, "created" in the sense that I thought of them myself and didn't steal them from anybody, even though someone else might have thought of them, too) including "The Gapper", "The Pokey" and, today's target, "The Pacer". (By the way, how do I know it's not one of you I'll be writing about? Because I know that you are all smart people, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this blog. And if there's one thing I've noticed about the people of whom I'll be writing, it's this: They're not very bright.)
A Pacer is one of those people who likes to drive down the interstate (or other multi-lane road) at the same speed as the car next to him. If the people in the middle lane of the three-lane highway are going along at 65 MPH, The Pacer will be in the left-hand lane driving side-by-side with him at the same speed, never zooming ahead and moving in front of him, never dropping back and slipping in behind him. The Pacer is the guy who violates Wayne's First Rule of Driving:
Wayne's Driving Rule #1
If you want to drive at the same speed as the people in the lane next to you, then get in the lane next to you.
Is that so hard to understand? I mean, what is the point of having a multi-lane road or highway if you're going to plant your sorry ass right next to the only other person in the lane next you, thus blocking everyone else from exercising their right to go around you and get the hell away from you? Okay, so you don't want to get caught by the cops speeding up just to move ahead of the guy. It doesn't mean you can't just put on your right turn signal (I'll be talking a lot about those folks another day), ease off of the accelerator, and slide into the lane behind the guy you're matching pace with? It's not rocket science! Okay, so, technically, it is rocket science, but it's not like you have to solve for any of the variables! Not precisely, anyway. You just have to know when one is less than the other. In fact, that's the beauty of it. You actually do calculus and rocket science in your head, but you don't do it with numbers. And if nobody hits anybody else, then you did it right.
Just remember to do it in the right order. Signal first, then ease off the gas pedal, then slide over. Signaling first is most important, otherwise if you slow down first, the guy behind you (probably me) might end up ramming into you, or he might have to hit the brakes hard causing a chain reaction of people suddenly braking behind you. Eventually, if the line of cars behind you is long enough (and on the interstate, that could easily be a mile or two), the people near the very end of that bunch of cars begin coming to a stop because the cars in front of them are going so slowly. And that's how you find yourself coming to a complete stop on the highway, for no obvious reason in the world. You expect to see debris or, if you're the ghoulish type, some blood that hasn't been hosed away yet, but there's nothing and you wonder for the life of you why you all had to come to a complete stop. The answer is simple. It's that dickhead Pacer at the head of the line.
Once you've put on the signal, then you ease off the gas pedal. For the benefit of any Pacers out there trying to learn from this, I cannot emphasize the importance of following Step One with Step Two, and not skipping ahead to Step Three. I know it's tempting in this hustle-and-bustle world to want to multi-task and combine two things in one, but this is not the time to be trying that. Remember, there's been a car beside you this entire time, and if you attempt to complete Step Three before you have completed Step Two, you may find yourself suddenly spinning out of control. Oh, sure. It'll be cool for the rest of us to watch as your car flips end-over-end, finally coming to rest on the median before bursting into a ball of fire, and you run from the vehicle, flames dancing from your waving arms and legs, as you dive to the ground in a possibly vain attempt to put out the fire, but how would I know because you're finally no longer in front of me and I can get the hell away from you! Thank you for finally "moving over."
So, having successfully completed Steps One and Two (in that order), you are now ready to move on to Step Three, the Slide Over behind The Guy Next To You. You want to be careful here. He might be a Pacer, too, and his natural instinct would be to slow down with you so that neither of you is ahead of the other. This, by the way and for the record, is why some of us would like to equip our cars with missiles. But that's a topic for another blog. (Or maybe "Car Talk" on the radio.) If, as you are about to execute Step Three, you perceive that you are beside a Pacer, your best bet is to suddenly step on the gas and get ahead of him as quickly as possible and then slide over in front of him this time. (Remember, the original plan was to slip in behind him, but he thwarted that artful maneuver by being a dickhead. Switch to Plan B.) At this point, it's better for all concerned (specifically me, in particular, in the car behind you), that you speed up to get into the next lane rather than slow down because if you slow down, you're more likely to cause an actual fender-bender about a mile and a half behind you.
That's all for this edition. If there's enough enthusiastic support for this column, there may be future editions. (At this point, one favorable comment might be enough.) And be safe out there, there's a lot of pretty stupid fucking people on the roads.