[The following is an approximate re-telling of a recent traffic stop I had with local law enforcement for a moving violation. The events of my run-in all happened exactly as described below. Well, almost exactly.]
It was 7:22 am on a Wednesday. I was driving northbound on Main Highway like I always did this time of week. But this time, there was a problem. I was running late for my regular Wednesday meet-up with a buddy of mine. Let’s call him Terry, because, well, that’s his name. Terry was waiting for me at our regular rendezvous, a place called Terry’s Corner (honest). My buddy Terry is a big deal in this small town. But Terry was going to have to wait. Because, like I said, I was running late.
I knew I shouldn’t have downed half a six-pack of Mountain Dew Live Wire first thing in the morning. My heart rate was through the roof as I raced down the highway in my silver Toyota minivan, desperately trying to make up time. I saw the speed limit sign. It read 50 mph, just like it always read this time of day. Some things never change. I looked in my rear view mirror. Drivers were climbing up on my tail. Maybe I was just imagining things, but it looked like the guy behind me wanted to run me over. My heart started pounding. My palms got clammy. I could barely hold onto the steering wheel.
My mind buzzed with all the things I had to do today. Little did I know that my agenda was about to take a major U-turn – because just as I was writing the previous sentence, I zoomed past a parked trooper. In that instant, the cop pulled onto the highway, flashed his lights, and started in hot pursuit.
Continue reading “You Have the Right to Remain Silent – My Recent Run-in with the Law” »
When it comes to car ownership, I’m a Hyundai kind of guy. I’ve always purchased safe, practical, mid-priced, somewhat boring cars. I’d never driven anything remotely top-end in my life. But on a recent Florida vacation, the rental company gave me a free upgrade to a luxury car. Not just any luxury car. Oh no. I’m talking an elite LINCOLN!
What a sweet ride it was. Smooth, gorgeous lines, spacious leather seats, rocket ship acceleration, and more dashboard buttons than you’d find in the cockpit of a 747. There was enough room in the trunk to easily stow both of our kids – not that I would seriously consider such a thing – unless they were acting horribly, of course. It was the most incredible driving experience of my life.
Everything was going along swimmingly. My wife was speaking to me for a change. The weather was 75 degrees and sunny every day. And people I drove past were giving me that “what makes you think you’re better than me?” look. Answer: “I’m driving a Lincoln – You’re driving a Ford Fiesta.”
Maybe I was getting a little too full of myself driving around with that smug expression on my face. I guess it was just a matter of time before God weighed in to teach me a lesson in humility. And that happened right after I went to church. Technically I wasn’t there for a church service. That just happened to be where a classical guitar concert was taking place. The church parking lot was full – of Chevys and Priuses and such. But not a single Lincoln – until I made my grand entrance, with my smokin’ sunglasses. I was seriously stylin’ in my Linc. (I’ll bet that’s what cool dudes call their Lincolns. But I’m just guessin’.)
Continue reading “My Sinkin’ Lincoln” »
One of my favorite jokes goes like this: “I got really drunk last night, so I decided to take the bus home. Now that may not sound impressive to you, but I’ve never driven a bus before.” Stop the Presses! Drunk drivers may soon not need to drive the bus – or their car – anymore. Welcome to the world of self-driving cars. They’re just around the corner.
Several tech companies like Tesla, Google and Apple are driving ahead with plans to mass-produce “autonomous” cars. These boring box vehicles are designed to ruin your happiness. If successful, they will all take away your freedom to cruise the open road at 90 mph, steering only with your knees, while singing Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’ off-key at the top of your lungs with the top rolled down. We need to slam the brakes on this effort. Our forefathers, who guaranteed the right to drive in the Bill of Rights, would be mortified at this attack on our this fundamental constitutional liberty.
If these tech companies succeed, it’s only a matter of time before other companies will start manufacturing self-cleaning ovens, self-navigating vacuum cleaners or even self-playing pianos. Today they’re coming for your car. Tomorrow they’ll be coming for your kids. Read my argument in fierce opposition to the freedom-crushing future of autonomous cars.
Argument for autonomous cars: Autonomous cars are far superior drivers. They will never get distracted by what’s going on around them. They won’t feel a need to check out who just texted them or try to balance their McDonald’s drive-through meal on their lap, swerving as they reach for their French fries that just fell to the floor.
My rebuttal: Are you trying to impugn the greatness of our nation’s finest fast food chain? You really hate America, don’t you? And I would never get distracted checking text messages while driving. I’m usually far too busy staring at my rearview mirror and shouting at my daughters, who are arguing with each other in the back seat about what video to watch on the minivan monitor.
Argument: Autonomous cars will dramatically lower automobile injuries and fatalities. If only 10% of U.S. vehicles on the road were self-driving, it would reduce car accidents by over 200,000 and save over 1,000 lives per year. If 90% of vehicles were self-driving, it would save 22,000 lives annually. Continue reading “They’re Coming for Your Car Keys. Welcome to the World of Self-Driving Cars” »
Dear person who never looks up while crossing the street, no matter how much traffic there is,
Hey, how’s it going? I hope I didn’t interrupt you from anything important. Please, by all means, go ahead and finish texting LOL to your friend Brad. Don’t forget the smiley face emoticon. Your text is far more important than anything I have to discuss with you. I’ll wait……… Done yet? Super.
Anyway, I just wanted to introduce myself. You see, I’m the guy whose car almost creamed you earlier today when you walked into traffic against the light and never once looked up. I doubt you remember me.
I can imagine it must have been hard to hear my horn blaring or my brakes screeching to avoid hitting you, what with that AC / DC song playing on your iPod at 175 decibels. I could hear them rocking away from inside my car with my windows up. I have to say, excellent choice in music, dude. Can’t go wrong with Highway to Hell – a classic.
You know, when I was young, I was taught that the center of the solar system was the sun. I now realize that my teacher lied to me – because clearly the solar system revolves around an eight-inch space between those earbuds of yours.
Continue reading “My open letter to the guy crossing the street against traffic without looking up” »
If you’re like me, then you’re a 57-year-old male living in Seattle, with a slight overbite and a two-inch scar on your left hand from a kitchen accident in 2004. But that’s beside the point. My point is, if you’re like me, then you may also be about to enter one of the most terrifying stages of life: The age when your teenage son or daughter starts learning how to drive.
Having somehow endured this traumatic experience with two daughters, I’m happy to say there is a reasonable chance you and your teenager will get through this period unscathed, and by reasonable chance I mean less than 15%. Let’s face it, being a parent is hard enough without having to experience the harrowing adventure of teaching your precious offspring how to drive. But there comes a day when your teenager might utter the phrase every parent dreads: Hey, Dad. I got into Stanford. But even before that day, there is another phrase that terrifies every loving parent: I want to get my driver’s license.
There is no way to avoid it. Sooner or later, it’s going to happen. The sooner you can con, I mean convince, your spouse to sign up for the thankless task of teaching them, the better. In our family, I was the sucker, er, volunteer. As a result of my anguishing experience teaching our daughters how to drive, I’ve learned several valuable tips to pass on to you.
Continue reading “Turn left NOW! No, your OTHER left!! The joys of teaching your teenager to drive.” »