Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Schmuck speed

Musing along my commute this morning, I realized that the route I take to work has some major flaws. I would like to point them out to the vastness that is encapsulated by a single word: you. You, the Reader.

First of all, almost my entire communte consists of two roads.

A 10-mile stint northward along Baumhart (for any west-side Portlandonians: Baumhart is a country road equivalent to Farmington or River Road, except it's a bit straighter - you really don't have to reduce your speed for any of the curves). Baumhart (pronounced: bomb-heart) is followed by a 30 minute spell westward on Route 20 (20 is similar to I-5 between Portland and Corvallis). I've said before that my commute is 45 minutes, so if this isn't adding up, just remember I live deep in the country. This isn't an exact science, guys!

Okay, so back to the point: the flaws.

It's easy to go into Auto Pilot while driving to work. Consequently, I do a lot of thinking and a lot of singing and (shamefully) sometimes I even talk to myself. Is that embarrassing to admit? I'm kind of like a Sim when they practice a speech or romance in the mirror to get Charisma skill points. I practice speeches I would like to give to my boss. It's silly, but it's a long commute too. And most recently I've noticed the Rule of the Schmuck Speed.

I come from an area with very heavy traffic, so we're really not used to cruising along at 70 miles per hour. But, when Oregonians finally are able to move freely on the freeway, if someone comes up behind you, you FRIGGIN' GET OVER! Oregonians do not camp out in the fast lane, and we don't pass on the right. Even the jerks follow those simple rules.

Not so in Ohio, I've noticed. In Ohio, the rule of Schmuck Speed is the only rule that applies. Here's how it works:

There are two types of drivers: schmucks and non-schmucks. Non-schmucks are the drivers that either camp out in the slow lane going less than 64 miles per hour ("turtles"), or are zipping by over 73 miles per hour ("rabbits"). No one is ever bothered by the non-schmucks; they cruise along at their own pace, doing their own thing, and life is great. But if you go between 65 and 72 miles per hour, you're a schmuck. I confess, I'm a schmuck. I like to set my cruise at 71-72 miles per hour (speed limit is 65). At that speed I don't have to keep my eyes peeled for cops because if I go by a cop scanning for speeders, in my experience 72 miles per hour isn't enough to get me a ticket or even really a second glance. I usually slow down a bit as I pass them; I've noticed that if you demonstrate you're paying attention then they probably won't even pull me over. If you maintain the same speed (fast or slow) it looks like you're not paying attention, and if the cop is bored or it's a slow day, you might get pulled over just to give them something to do (even if they're not planning on giving you a ticket).

Schmuck speed means one thing though: all of us going a little bit faster then the turtles and a little bit slower than the zippity doo dah rabbits are fighting for our place to camp out. If we camp in the slow lane, then the turtles are in our way, and if we camp in the fast lane then the rabbits ride our butts. And that's one thing about schmucks: we're campers. That's what makes us schmucks.

Here's the other trend I noticed: even among the schmucks, there's no comraderie. Since there is some variation in speed even within the schmuck speed, a fellow schmuck may desire to go ONE FRIGGIN MILE PER HOUR faster than you. Say I've set my speed at 71 miles per hour today. The schmuck who wants to go 72 miles per hour can not wait to get around me. He'll get progressively closer and closer, one mile per hour at a time. A typical Oregonian would get over so they can go along their merry way.

Unfortunately, 1 mile per hour is not very merry. Here's what happens: I'm allegedly poking along, someone comes up behind me, I get over, they can't make it around me in time before I come up behind a turtle, and TADA! I'm officially the SCHMUCK* stuck behind a turtle. WTF? Worse! The 1 mile per hour schmuck has now lost their one mile per hour of momentum, and they are now camped out right next to me. There's nothing to do but crawl up the turtle's butt, or slow down and crawl up the schmuck's.

*Note, there's a difference between schmuck and SCHMUCK. I need to expand my vocabulary, I guess, but there isn't a word that expresses my feelings more accurately. Okay, wait. I just looked up some synonyms. Before I go on, I'm going to re-write that paragraph (in italics below so you don't get lost):

Unfortunately, 1 mile per hour is not very merry. Here's what happens: I'm allegedly poking along, some dunce comes up behind me, I get over, they can't make it around me in time before I come up behind a turtle, and TADA! I'm officially the boob stuck behind the turtle. WTF? Worse! The 1 mile per hour stooge has now lost their one mile per hour of momentum, and they are now camped out right next to me. There's nothing to do but crawl up the turtle's butt, or slow down and change lanes to be behind the stooge who was so excited about passing me.

I think boob is an excellent choice as a synonym for schmuck.

Even if there is plenty of room in the slow lane, so much that you think, "Even though they're barely going any faster than me, of course they'll still make it around me before I get up to that turtle I can hardly see!" Even then! Nope. I still get stuck.

Hence: I no longer get over. Hello, my name is Kate, and I am a schmuck that camps in the fast lane. Gasp! A collective inhalation of offended incredulity from the western half of the country.

When in Rome . . .

1 comment:

Mindy said...

It gets even more delightful when there are three lanes of traffic to maneuver. Let's hope you don't run into large quantities of cars at least!

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