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Faux Outrage

Literally the most important blog in the universe since 2010.

Monthly Archives: July 2002

Note: In this article, I assume everyone thinks exactly like me.  God help us, especially my parents, if this is true.  With that in mind, and without further ado…

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a pretty nice person.  Now, that doesn’t mean that I think you should be in contention for “Internet User of the Millennium” or even “Internet User of the Millisecond”, but if you were, I would probably at least consider voting for you (unless you happen to be George W. Bush, in which case I would never consider voting for you).  I bring this up because I know, given one particular situation, I will, in your direction, shake my tiny fist in murderous rage.  Of course this situation is: when you are driving on the highway (or, unless you happen to be George W. Bush.  Or especially, if you happen to be George W. Bush driving on the highway).

Driving on the highway (or “on the highway, for the most part,” if you are a woman) is in my opinion a pretty decent microcosm of fundamental human interaction.  I use the word “fundamental” here for a couple reasons.  First and foremost, it makes my article longer (“fundamental” has eleven letters to the mere five in “basic”).  Second, it makes this article sound more educational (when it reality it is just a series of sentences that kind of make sense followed by pseudo-witty comments in parentheses that definitely do not make sense).

My bold statement of the day is that we make the exact same assumptions about drivers on the thruway as we do about strangers in our daily lives.  This shouldn’t be too surprising because these are the same strangers we interact with in our daily lives. However, the reality is that our actions are magnified when we are protected from them. In the case with cars, our sense of disconnected invincibility stems from the fortress of steel (or, in the case of a Saturn owner: silly-putty and thumbtacks) surrounding us.

First of all, at age twenty, it should be assumed that I am a glorified driving expert.  After all, I have been driving for well over four years.  That’s longer than it takes most people to finish both second and third grade.  Think about it.  The problem with the way I drive (and the way everyone else around me drives) is that I hate everyone on the road who is not me.  In my opinion, there are three types of drivers (which you can differentiate between based on the type of car and/or the ratio of total area of spoilers, exhaust paraphernalia, racing-related bumper stickers to the number of decibels the car is producing):

1) People who are going too slow (“Freaking Old People”)
2) People who are going too fast (“Freaking Road Rage Alcoholic Punks”)
3) Me

I don’t count truck drivers because they, as one beaver Union worker on strike said to the other, “Don’t give a damn.”  I don’t hate truck drivers and don’t figure them into my equation—they’re just doing their job.  Those who fit into groups one or two, however, should be removed from the road (which, in case you were wondering, is very clearly marked “my road”).

Exceedingly rare is the situation where there is someone in front of me who causes me to think to myself, “My, this motorist is cruising at precisely the right speed and acceleration for me to arrive at my destination free of stress and having committed no crimes punishable by death in states other than Texas and Oklahoma.”  And if I do begin to think this delightful thought, by the time I get to the “free of stress” part, behind me I hear the sound of a crazed embittered middle-aged man driving a white minivan with a “Soccer Mom” sticker on the back windshield at six-hundred seventy-four miles per hour, breathing eighty-proof fire, teeth clenched, testosterone oozing from every pore.  I hate that guy, and he hates me too, because to him, I’m just another “freaking old person”.

The fact that we fail to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone we encounter on the road is pretty indicative of our attitude towards unfamiliar persons in our everyday travels.  We judge the drivers  around us because we can—what are the chances of us actually seeing these people ever again?  We see differences in the way they drive compared to us.  And, as I harped on in previous articles, we often associate different-ness with badness.

The only time when we drivers seem to care for one another is when one of us spots “the enemy”: a stealth vigilante nuclear terrorist helicopter or equivalent, such as a New York State Trooper.  It is only at this point when the highway drivers feel more like a unified coalition of drivers and not just a collection of individuals with separate desires and plans.  For some reason, we feel sorry for the ones that get caught by troopers, because we’re all speeding—like grade-schoolers chaotically running through the halls.

The reason I mention this anti-police brotherhood is to bring up one simple point.  I have faith that ultimately, under the correct set of circumstances, we care about those around us, regardless.   Our compassion would be based solely on the fact that those with whom we come in contact are human, and for no other reason.  Unfortunately, it will take an instance similar to the cinematic masterpiece The Birds for many of us to understand this theory.  We would need to be threatened by another species, swooped down upon like police on highway drivers, for many people to truly develop the sense of human camaraderie that we all seem to (at the very least) be capable of.  The human race is atop the Food Chain.  We can’t imagine a more powerful enemy, but perhaps we need one to truly understand what it is to be human.

In the mean time, truly understand that if you see me on the highway, you should get the hell out of my way.

Preface: Did you ever notice how “for one reason or another” is the most useless statement in the entire English language?  Not only is the person using this phrase not sure what in particular that “one reason” behind his/her beliefs is, but we’re also informed that their opinion might not even be based on that one unspecified reason; rather based on a  different rationale which remains equally mysterious. I have a feeling that the same guy who invented that gem also invented the concept of meteorologists.

For one reason or another, I have this theory.  The theory is as follows: A person’s true personality, no matter how rarely it is shown, is revealed in its truest form when he/she is left anonymous.  I’d like to tell you that I came up with this hypothesis after a long struggle with my dissertation regarding the effects of social anxiety on the human condition, but sadly, that is not the case.  I was Trick-Or-Treating.

The night had gone as one might expect a Rochester-hosted Halloween night to go.  My buddies and I (two baseball players, a doctor, and a Ross Perot) were trudging through snow (yes, snow) house by house, slowly filling our pillow cases with candy, peanuts, pennies, and caramel-coated, chocolate-covered razor blades.  Finally, we came to “the house”.  Here, we found an unguarded tub-like…well…tub, filled with candy.  I’m talking filled.  The only thing separating us from six pounds of pre-pubescent gold was a sign that read: “Please, Take One”.  Right.  This situation, ladies and gentlemen, defined a person.

As far as I could tell, these are the true personalities that could be extracted from this situation:

1)    The Free-For-All Criminal – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, disbands from the group.  He is interested only in his well-being (where well-being is exactly equal to the number of candy pieces at the end of the night) and will act as such.  He’ll take all of the candy for himself, bin and all.

2)    The Social-Minded Criminal – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, thinks socially.  His main goal is to get the greatest amount of wealth while simultaneously not crossing any thick social barriers.  This person would take, in good conscience, about half of the available candy and then go on to justify his decision to himself and those around him until the end of the night and for the next two weeks.

3)    The Mastermind Criminal – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, thinks politically.  He is also concerned about filling his pillowcase with riches, but also knows that his livelihood might depend on his group, or, as he sees them now, his witnesses.  This person would take charge of the situation at hand.  He would first make sure that the proverbial coast is clear and then divide the candy up into several subsets (a large pile for him and equal smaller piles for each member of the group).

4)    The No-Harm-Done Petty Criminal – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, thinks realistically.  He won’t be able to sleep if he takes a good portion of the candy, but he also knows that he won’t be able to sleep if he passes up a “good” situation like this.  This person will carefully select a handful of candy to bring home.  He won’t make a huge dent in the available goods, but the riches he does take are quality riches.  Afterward, he’d claim that the people who set up the “Please Take One” bin did so knowing full well that trick-or-treaters would take more than one piece, so what he did was perfectly allowable and perfectly normal.  No harm done.

5)    The Unaffected – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, thinks about which candy he is going to select.  He does not see the big tub of candy as a “situation”, only a quick stop on the journey to fill up the pillowcase.  The sign says “Take One”, and one he will take, no second thoughts.

6)    The Follower – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, does not think.  He stands there, grinning, waiting for someone else to say something.  No matter what it is his friend blurts out, he remarks, “Yeah, good idea!”  This person has no true personality; rather, he is made up of situations where he is agreeing with one type of personality and situations where he is agreeing with another type.

7)    The Son of a Preacher-Man Man – This character, when he lays eyes on the potential riches, thinks morally.  His eyes may glisten in moonlight when he sees the mounds of Mounds and Pieces of Reeses, but he knows what he has to do.  This character will take only one piece of candy, just as the sign says, and will explain to all of his group-members why he only took one piece and why they should also take only one piece.  After his speech is over, this person is beaten up by the Free-For-All-Criminal

What we did that night isn’t really important (or legal for that matter), but the question remains, as Marc Summers always said, What Would You Do?

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