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Cynicism

February 9th, 2010

Back in December, after driving through the Mid-Atlantic Blizzard of 2009, I extolled the virtues of all-wheel-drive, in both inclement and sunny weather.

My Audi (Pre-Extraction)

And now, having made it (at least most of the way) through the Mid-Atlantic Blizzard of 2010, I am again grateful that all of the cars in my household are driven by all four wheels.

But, while digging my Audi out of its icy crypt after this past weekend’s wintry blast, I began to grow bitter as I was repeatedly compelled into service to help extract some wayward traveller’s ride from the unplowed street in front of my house.

So, to help commemorate my efforts (not to mention my sore back) in putting up with helping my fellow man during this storm, and with all due apologies, I pass on to you some of the more illuminating remarks that were shared with me as I stood outside in the snow, shovel in hand.

“I don’t understand why my traction control isn’t working!” (Exclaimed by a man who had driven his Lexus ES350 into the deep snow just a bit outside the two hard-packed tracks that designated where the road is.) Sir, it is working, but your front-wheel-drive fancy Toyota isn’t the Mach Five.  Your car can’t drive over open water, nor can it scale vertical buildings.  Similarly, it will not move once you ram it into 2 feet of snow.  And please – stop spinning the tires.  You’re slinging slush into my face while I try to dig you out.

“Hey, are you stuck?!” (Smugly asked by a couple in a Subaru Forester, driving past me and the Lexus driver.) No, ma’am.  We’re not stuck.  I frequently hang out in the middle of snow-covered intersections, with my head under a Lexus, chatting with old guys in golf pants.  Oh, and this snow shovel in my hand?  No idea how that got there.  …Oh, OK – maybe the Subie drivers weren’t quite as smug as I make them out to be.  (Though, I sure would be, if I were them!)  Truth be told, in an effort to disassociate myself from the Lexus driver and give the Forester folks a nod of vehicular approval, I immediately pointed to the Lexus and replied, “Well, HE’S stuck!”  In the end, however, the Subaru just kept on going without stopping to help…

“Wow, I’m not going ANYWHERE, am I?!” (Shouted by a Mercedes C300 driver, whose rear wheels spun hopelessly as she sawed back and forth on her steering-wheel.) No, ma’am, you’re not.  Unless I get out of my vehicle (which you’re now blocking) and push you, along with the help of several other frustrated folks who actually took the time to determine the state of the roads and the suitability of their vehicle in these conditions.  And please, once we get you going, don’t stop again.

“Which way are they facing?” (Posed by the same Merc driver that offered up the previous quip, in response to me advising her to aim her wheels forward when we started to push.) Really?  How little awareness do you have of what’s going on with your car that you don’t know which way you’ve turned your steering wheel?  Also, please hang up your cell-phone – we’re trying to help you.

“Hey, can I borrow your shovel?” (A seemingly unburdensome question asked by a taxi driver who sat in the road, a single rear wheel on his old Ford Crown Vic spinning impotently in the slush.) Oh, this shovel?  The one I’m using to unencase my own car?  Sure, go ahead.  I wasn’t really … using … it.  (OK, actually, I was getting tired, and wanted to take a break, so I offered the shovel.)  Only Mr. Cab Driver intended for me to dig him out, while he continued to rock the car back and forth.  Only there was no rocking.  The pitiful traction offered up by that rear-wheel-drive car with bald tires and no limited slip differential was almost comical.  He didn’t budge until a few passers-by joined me in shoving him down the street.  …Come on, you’re a professional driver.  You do this for a living.  You should know better!

…OK, perhaps I should have more patience with my fellow drivers.  (And honestly, I’m not really the jerk that this post may lead you to believe.)  …Maybe modern cars have become so good – so capable of isolating us from the road and everything around us – that we feel invincible when we’re behind the wheel, and we forget what the limits are.  …Or maybe we just never stop and think before hopping behind the wheel in the first place.

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