Daily Archives: September 10, 2005

Cruise Control is a Magic Decoder Ring…

…that reveals morons on the highway.

Seriously.

I have a fifty minute commute from my home to my work. Most of that commute happens on a hilly, two-lane highway with a 65 mile an hour speed limit. Usually, I ramp up my little car to about seventy-five and set the cruise control. Yeah, I know, I’m breaking the law (and admiting to it to the entire world), but the speed I set is not unreasonable for the road and I figure this way I’ll know for sure how fast I’m going when I DO get pulled over (and it WILL happen, rest assured. “Ma’am, do you know why I’ve pulled you over?” “Why YES, officer, as a matter of fact I DO! I had my cruise control set at exactly 75 miles an hour!!”).

So, picture this. I’m set at a consistent speed. “Consistent” is an important adjective here. So I’m in my little car, zipping along, when “FFFOOOOM!!” I’m passed like I’m standing still. Again and again. Now, remember that I’m ten miles over the speed limit as it is, so these guys have to be doing at LEAST ninety. That’s the first job of the Cruise Control Decoder Ring; it gives us some perspective on the speed of those with whom we’re sharing the road.

Then there are the folks who play leap-frog. You know, the car you’ll pass, only to be passed by that car four miles later, only to pass it again six miles after that? My personal favorite is the guy who’s happily zoning along, grooving to his music or whatever, who suddenly becomes very interested in driving after I pass him. Until he’s passed by a chick in a little hatch-back, he was perfectly happy all in his own little world. Now, though, he’s got something to prove, so he’ll gun his engine and blow my doors off. Fine, whatever, I’m still on cruise control. What’s funny is that, a few miles later, he’ll have gotten over his little ego boost and slipped back into his happy place when I, STILL on cruise control, will pass him again. This can go on for miles and miles and miles.

I checked this afternoon. I was passed nine times. NINE. And I played leap-frog with three other cars – a white Ford Explorer, a maroon Nissan Altima, and a beat-up, piece-of-crap Honda. I’m going to keep an informal account to see what the record will be…

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