I may have mentioned a while back that one of my kids, as a birthday present, got season passes for the family for Six Flags. This is somewhat analogous to giving the gift of the "noisy toy" to someone else's kid. Especially when my kids can't even agree upon which rides to ride. Practically speaking, this means I have to take my kids to Six Flags often enough to make the season passes worthwhile. Don't look at me like that; most of this process is not pleasant or fun. I mean, it's not like I get to ride anything, because I'm always on the ground with whatever kid refuses to go one whatever ride we're at. The only ride they all like is the water ride, which I don't like, so I'm still on the ground... except, when they're on that, which always has a long line, is when I write. heh heh
But anyway, that's all beside the point.
Recently, while on the way back from Six Flags, I got flipped off for being in the way of someone's desire to break the law. Let me explain.
We were driving back from Vallejo; it was rush hour, so traffic was slow; but we were in the carpool lane, because, well, we were a carpool. Traffic in the carpool lane was not slow. Where everyone else was going, maybe, 50 mph, we were going 65. I have to say, I love the carpool lane. More people should use it. Legally, that is. Environmental issues aside: if more people carpooled, regular traffic would be less congested. Anyway, we were going 65, which I know, because I had the cruise control set, and we were fairly flying along. At least, we were flying along in comparison to everyone else.
But, in the midst of that, a young guy (early 20s at most) in a red, almost-sports car came speeding up behind me. There are two things wrong with this picture:
1. The obvious. He was speeding. And I don't mean a little.
2. He was in the carpool lane. I don't know about the rest of the country, but CA takes it carpool lanes seriously, and the fine for getting caught driving in one during carpool hours while not being a carpool is pretty steep.
I could see that the guy was getting angry at being stuck behind me, but 1. I was where I was supposed to be; he was not. 2. I wasn't going to try to slow down 15-20 mph to get into the regular traffic flow just so that he could break the law.
Yes, it's breaking the law to speed. Traffic-related deaths are still, as far as I know, the #1 cause of non-natural deaths in the United States. Most of these are caused by substance abuse or speeding or both. When you are speeding and a cop pulls you over, he is not the bad guy; you are. He should not be off somewhere stopping a "real crime," because that is what he is doing. Pulling you over for speeding is much more likely to be saving your life and the life of some victim of your stupidity and selfishness than anything else that cop could be doing. I get that you don't like getting caught doing something wrong, but, when you get pissed off about it and blame the cop, you're acting just like a teenager yelling at his/her parents for breaking some household rule. Grow up. When you do, you will understand.
Just by the way, when I'm going the speed limit--and I am never intentionally going over the speed limit (and only very rarely am I doing it by accident)--and you pull up behind me getting all pissy because I won't break the law by speeding up or won't slow down and thus facilitate you in breaking the law, it makes me want to slow down and match the speed of the traffic in the other lane anyway, just to piss you off even more. [I don't do that, but, my gosh!, it makes me want to!]
Aside: The fast lane is not for speeding. Don't you even think that it is. The fast lane is for people who want to go the speed limit. The slow lane is for people that don't want to go the speed limit. When I am in the fast lane and I am going the speed limit, I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I don't care if you want to go faster. I don't care if there are 20 of you behind me that want to go faster. It is not my job to facilitate the wrong you want to do. When I am going the speed limit, I am not the "slow driver;" you are the "too fast driver."
Anyway, finally, for whatever reason, there was a break in the (much) slower traffic to my right, and the guy behind me dodged into the hole, causing the person he cut off to have to slow down even more, and sped around me, narrowly avoiding me and the car just in front of him. The whole time he was doing this, he had his left arm fully extended from his window, flipping me off. He was going at least 80 as he accelerated away from me. He was not the only one to exhibit this kind of behavior, but he was certainly the worst.
Now, I am not really talking about traffic issues here. They are just the illustration of the problem. We here in the United States have come to think that we are entitled to do whatever we want. All the time. Not only should we be allowed to do whatever we want, other people should enable us in our desires to do whatever we want. All the time. Even when those things we want to do are wrong. Even if those things we want to do have the potential to hurt other people. Or even if they will hurt other people. Or the world. Or whatever.
You want to talk about trickle down effect; well, this is where it really works. The rich, who got even richer during the recent recession while everyone else got poorer, exercise their "entitlement" all the time, and everyone else sees them doing it, getting whatever they want whenever they want it, and we decide we want that, too. And we really don't tend to care whom we may hurt to get the things that we want. So we end up with dead teenage boys on a city street. Or we end up with a four car collision during rush hour. Or any number of other things, all because we want what we want and we want it now.
Tell me, how many of you actually like the character of Veruca Salt? And, yet, that's exactly how Americans tend to act. All the time.
And it's wrong. All the time.
So, when I'm driving down the freeway in the fast lane and going the speed limit, no, I will not move over for you. And, no, I don't care if there are 20 of you backed up behind me. The weight of your numbers and desire to get what you want doesn't make it right. It doesn't. And, no, it doesn't matter how many of you start eating rocks, I'm not going to do that, either. [If you understand that reference, you will earn major points. I may have to develop a system whereby people can actually earn points and trade them in for stuff. Virtual points don't do anyone any good. (No, Briane, you can't have my idea.)] And, no, just because 90% of you (or more) want to think that comma usage is "subjective" and you should get to put them wherever you want, it doesn't make it correct. Nor does calling stuff poetry that doesn't meet the definition of poetry make it poetry. Also, starting in the middle of the action and skipping all the exposition in your story just because it's popular to do it that way, right now, that's not right, either. If you leave out the exposition and most of the rising action, you don't actually have a full story; you have part of one; I don't care how long it is.
What I'm saying here is this:
Lots of people being wrong about something doesn't by sheer numbers make it right. I didn't bow to that kind of peer pressure when I was in high school, and I'm not about to start now, so, go ahead, exercise that finger all you want.