There’s a rather steep, winding road I take on the way to work that understandably narrows to a single lane on the downhill side. The speed limit correspondingly drops a little, as well. This all occurs shortly after a traffic light and for the next mile-and-a-half drivers are relegated to whatever position they were able to aggressively acquire during the furious Competition Merging that invariably occurs at this type of juncture.
It is the right lane that merges into the left, so you’ll usually see the BMW and CRX drivers choose it, particularly when they end up (oh-so-egregiously) stopped at the light. Their logic is simple: only the right lane provides the opportunity not to get stuck behind one of the left-lane lame-asses who lacked the foresight to buy a car that stuck to the road like an AFX* slot car. They crane their necks to watch for the cross-traffic light to turn yellow; it’s their cue to take the RPMs up to 1200 and shift their clutch-foot to the very edge of the pedal for instantaneous release.
Me, I’m one of the lame-asses, I guess. I seldom worry about my spot in the bizarre, unwritten hierarchy of competitive commuting. I’m of the opinion that making it to my destination alive, undamaged and sans citations is far more desirable than getting there seven seconds before everyone else. But you already knew I was a bit strange.
Anyway, this morning I did play the game because tooling down the hill was a dirty, fume-belching truck with a giant tank on the back proudly emblazoned with The Shit Bilge: We’ll Pump Out Your Poop! (or something like that; I didn’t have anything to write with at the time). The huge coil of corrugated PVC tubing verified what was inside that tank. I’m not sure if moving so slowly was also directly related to his occupation, but the fact wouldn’t surprise me.
For the record, I wasn’t the only one to pass him. I was behind at least a half dozen drivers making the same sensible move.
Here’s the thing, though. As I changed lanes and sped up to squeeze in front of him just before the guardrail could cave in my passenger door, I felt a little like an impatient teenager for whom driving like an asshole has become a requisite personality trait. But the guy in the sewer truck didn’t speed up to force me back behind him the way so many people do, nor did he tailgate me the rest of the way down the hill. He just took his time transporting his contaminated cargo, seemingly unmoved by the growing distance between himself and the crowd of cars in front of him.
I guess if you make your living sucking putrid body waste out of other peoples’ septic tanks, you’ve pretty much already broken and tamed your ego.
*Yeah, that’s right, I was an AFX kid. Big time. Had to save up just a little more chore money, but it was worth it not to settle for Tyco’s second-rate, schlocky slot cars.