The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said some stuff about patience. It was deep. But the modern American philosopher Axl Rose was more direct: “Sometimes I get so tense but I can’t speed up the time.” This sentiment is true for 1980s GNR power ballads, and it also is true for driving. It is particularly true if you are driving a large SUV while a bunch of people on scooters and motorcycles are heading down the road for Christmas-themed rides…
I participated in two Christmas-themed rides this year. One was last night to see Christmas light displays in South Philly. (It was organized by a group of local scooter enthusiasts.) The other was a Christmas-In-July Toys for Tots Ride. (It was organized by the Philadelphia Police — people who (thankfully) can arrest bad drivers.) Both rides had one thing in common: boneheads in SUVs. With apologies to my friends who drive SUVs (who I’m reasonably sure would not purposefully try to run me over — well, sort of sure — OK, maybe I should watch my back), it is unclear whether boneheads as a demographic group tend to purchase SUVs, or whether the purchasing of an SUV converts an otherwise normal human being into a bonehead. (It’s not critical for our story, but it is an interesting sociological question. Please feel free to discuss among yourselves.)
Now, coincidences have been known to occur. But, if you see dozens or hundreds of scooters and motorcycles coming down the road, headed in the same direction, the odds are pretty good that they are traveling with some singular, common purpose. So, unless you are about to drop dead from brain cancer and only have 60 seconds left to live (in which case, you really ought to be in a hospice, not out driving an SUV), it is OK to wait 15, 30, or even 60 whole seconds to let the group pass.
Remarkably, however, there appear to be either: A) a significant number of terminally-ill brain-cancer patients with only 60 seconds left to live who are out driving SUVs or B) a lot of impatient asshatss. Given the prevalence of brain cancer in the U.S., I’m going to go with B.
First, if you are driving an SUV in South Philly on a Saturday night in December looking for a place to parallel park, whatever you are doing (by definition) is not that important. If it were that important, it would not involve A) parallel parking an SUV in South Philly or B) you. You do not need to jump into a crowd of 40 scooters to try to park in that particular space at that single instant in time. (It’s not like we were all gonna pull into the space.) Second, it appears that being an impatient asshat (and disregarding the sage teachings of those like the Philosopher Rose) can get you into legal trouble. Example: If you are that person who couldn’t wait for the Christmas in July motorcycles to pass, and instead decided to plow ahead, taking out three helpless Harleys (and their riders and passengers) in the process (all in front of several squad cars who were nearby blocking off roads), it is unlikely that you were allowed to continue on your merry way to arrive at your destination on time. Instead, you were arrested. And arraigned. And never got where you were going. (Because you are an idiot.)
Perhaps there is a universal lesson here. When confronted with a life choice, we shouldask ourselves: “Is what I’m about to do the functional equivalent of ramming an SUV into three Harley-Davidsons while cops watch me?” If the answer is “Yes,” “Probably,” or even “Maybe, I’m Not Sure” — then we should pause to reconsider what we’re doing.
So remember and heed the immortal words of Mr. Rose: “Take it slow and things will be just fine.”