Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Lost Art of Compromise

Drove 588 miles yesterday from NC to Vero Beach. My travel plan was fairly simple.  I anticipated 600 + miles for the trip but took some routing advice from Sandi's cousin, Bill, and successfully whittled 30 to 40 miles or so off the Yahoo mileage directions. I hoped to average about 60 mph because most of the trip was on interstate.  According to the Sorento's travel computer we averaged 62 mph with 9 hrs 27 mins driving time. We targeted a departure time of 6 am and actual time was 6:17. We hoped for late afternoon arrival considering we would have to stop to eat a couple of times, stop for fuel and a few rest breaks to get out and stretch a little. We arrived at our Vero destination at 5:07 pm so we were pretty close to target. I was also hopeful that I could maintain the posted speed limits + 4 or 5 mph and considering all the travel together, back roads shortcut through a few traffic lights and speed limits ranging from 25 to 50 mph, along with interstate speed limits of 65 to 70 mph with lower levels through construction areas and urban areas, the 62 mph result came out pretty close to the goal.

Driving can be boring. I worked in trucking dispatch for 36 years but never drove over the road. I don't know how road drivers do it. I give them a lot of credit for being able to put up with the bone head drivers that are on the roads these days.  And they have to do it day after day! A 588 mile trip for a road driver is just a day's work. But while I admire their stamina and skill, I don't like to be on the road with them. Simple physics says contact between my 4000 Lb Sorento and a fully loaded 80,000 Lb semi is going to result in semi score = 1, Sorento score = 0. Not good odds in my book. So I try to stay away from them as much as possible. I will speed up, slow down, move over a lane, and do whatever it takes to give them the room to do what they want to do and give me the room to have some peace of mind that neither of us will have any encounters other than passing the other by.  Truckers, of course, aren't the only vehicles to contend with.  All ages, all genders, all races, all whatevers are out there and at times it seems their goals when they set out that morning are to screw up my driving plans. Many of them don't seem to know how to use cruise control. So they speed up, they slow down, they fluctuate at any speed except one consistent level. I go to pass them, they speed up. I pull over to let them pass, they swerve in front of me and slow down. They weave from lane to lane, frequently with a phone stuck to their ear and S-curve their way down the highway like a Nascar driver waiting for a restart at Daytona.

Despite all these observations, I try to keep my political views under the dashboard. That is, few of the other vehicles see my middle finger or thumb/first digit LOSER displays because I don't display them high enough above window height for any offenders to see. You never know when one screwball thinks the right to bear arms means he not only can drive like a jerk;  he might also think he can shoot anybody who trips his road rage trigger. I don't want to be his (or her) target. But I do have political views while I'm driving. Especially nowadays when our duly elected politicians in Washington are having such a difficult time coming to an agreement on how to resolve the debt crisis.  I understand it's no simple process and we can't equate our household budget scenarios to the vast and complex economy of the nation, not to mention how our economy can and will affect the global economies. But when I'm driving on Interstate 95 through South Carolina climbing a hill and trying to pass a semi struggling to maintain 60 mph on the incline and some doofus in a Malibu pulls right up on my ass in drafting position and starts flicking his high beams at me, I can't help thinking that whoever this idiot is has obviously lost the art of compromise. My first inclination in this situation is to tap on my brake to shock the beegeezus out of him but I'm not going to do that, I'm just going to fantasize about it for a moment or two. I will frequently just sit there a little bit and let him stew but not for too long a time. I'll give him my right directional just to let him know I will be moving over as soon as I get a safe distance past the truck. But just as often, that's not quick enough for the idiot who will swerve to the right and then pass me on the right in spite of my directional.  So to keep my sense of humor and my own road rage urges in line, I think to myself that Malibu-moron is like the politician who goes to Washington with his goals lined up in a neat little row and refuses to take any body else's view under consideration. He has PRINCIPLES  by golly and he's not going to let some Sorento or semitrailer or Democrat or Republican or anybody else who gets in his way deter him from accomplishing his goals. It's mind over matter...he doesn't mind and the rest don't matter. His way or the highway.

Kind of a simple little analogy, I know, but it keeps me amused while driving down the road while keeping my mind on the driving at the same time. I'm not interested in finding blame against Democrats or Republicans, Congress vs. Senate, President Obama, liberals, conservatives, Tea Party, or whatever. But I'll say this. I drove 588 miles yesterday and compromised my butt off the whole way to accommodate other drivers and people sharing the road with me. If I can do it, the people we've sent to Washington can do it too. I don't expect them to vote on every little thing exactly the way I want them to. They can't please all of us 100 % of the time.  But they better learn to negotiate and compromise and get something done on this debt crisis PDQ and those that don't can kiss my vote goodbye. And they can kiss my road-weary butt while they're at it.