Monday, March 26, 2012

LDM part 2: awkward automobiles

Equal to airplanes and elevators in LDM frequency are automobiles. One circumstance in particular is a constant source of Larry David-esque neurosis - it's the "see ya there" trip.

You're finishing a nice meal at a restaurant with friends. After great dinner conversation, you and your satisfied companions decide to continue the night's festivities at your home. After invariably arguing over who gets to pay the tab, and even more invariably waiting for one of the men (defecating) or women ("freshening up," but really defecating) to use the restroom, you all walk out to the parking lot. You get in your car, they get in theirs. "See ya there!"

Five minutes later, you pull up to a red light, aware that arriving at the same red light in the adjoining lane is the other driver. You now face an interesting choice. Your first instinct is to turn, look at the other driver, and gesture. Whether it's a smile, a wave, a raising of the eyebrows, or a silly squinted glare, this instinct is a mystery. It's as if you forgot you just spent the last two hours with the person you're suddenly so happy to see. Maybe driving at the same time creates a sort of camaraderie, like you felt with your childhood best friend after go-karting together on a school field trip. "Look, we're both driving! Isn't this great?!" Whatever the explanation, turning to look comes with risks. The other driver may make a conscious decision not to look, and you are left snubbed, gesturing like an idiot at no one. Or, the face looking back at you will trigger your memory, and logic, and a level of awkwardness not ever previously experienced with that person follows. Alternative to turning and looking, you can snub, pretending you don't know you've pulled up right next to the other driver. This is dangerous too, as you may cause the other driver embarrassment over a funny face or a wave unresponded to. It's really a question of who you feel more comfortable embarrassing - you or the other driver. Clearly, I choose not to look.

The awkwardness then progresses as the light turns green. Whether you're competitive by nature or not, there is always the odd dilemma of whether to pull ahead of the other person or let them. Driving side by side is a third option, though that often leads to further awkward glances, waves, and snubs, which turns hazardous while in motion. Nothing ruins a friendship like diverting one into oncoming traffic with a poorly placed gesture. What proceeds ends up being a speed-up, lag-behind cycle that, from the air, must look like the equalizer bars during a pop song.

My personal solution to all this is becoming to never, under any circumstances, pull up alongside the other driver, whether at a light or in motion. I will wait in the turn lane that is 50 cars long to avoid being first in the other lane and side by side the familiar driver. I will remain in the same lane as them at all times for the entire journey, or I will accelerate ahead at the beginning and break speed laws to maintain distance. Whatever I have to do I will do in order to ensure being surrounded by unfamiliar drivers at all times.

Until there is a universal understanding that turning and looking is frowned upon instead of smiled upon, I will be forced to continue with these maneuvers.

1 comment:

  1. I hope you don't have this awkward automobile experience when driving alongside family members!? Funny narrative, so funny!