World's Greatest Singer, Meet the World's Greatest Driver
It’s been proven, through complicated, peer-reviewed studies chock-full of science (I’m not going to link to them. Let’s be realistic — you weren’t going to read them anyway) that people who think they’re really good at something turn out to be not-so-great at it in reality.
You see this a lot in the audition rounds of American Idol: People who think – nay, know — that they’re the finest vocalists ever to come out of Peoria or Podunk or Sacramento or wherever. And then they sing and we all have a good laugh and nobody gets hurt, except for the idiot singer, who doesn’t count.
However, you also see this phenomenon in effect in other, not-so-harmless situations. For instance, I’ve always thought I’m a pretty good driver.
You wouldn’t guess it reading my posts, but we do a fair amount of driving around here. New cars get delivered to the office regularly, and while my compatriot Stephanie does the lion’s share of the driving and reviewing, I take these vehicles for a spin at least once. Steph rides along, and we talk about the car, the engine, the weather, why we don’t want to go back to the office…you get the picture.
I can’t tell if it’s because I’m distracted by the conversation, the newness of the cars, the presence of someone else in the car or just something really shiny, but I have done some of the most careless driving of my life on our little jaunts. Stop signs lurk behind cloaking devices until the last second, “No Turn on Red” signs hide their faces from me, and lanes end seemingly without warning.
Isn’t there a way to make these redder or something?
I wouldn’t be so peeved if this were going on in my own personal car, a Ford Taurus a little past its prime. These cars don’t belong to me, though –- they belong to Cadillac and Land Rover and whoever else wants us to take a look at their machines. And every time I have to hit the brakes a little too hard at a red light or swear at someone who won’t let me merge, I can almost hear Steph asking herself why she ever handed me the keys.
I keep assuring her that I’m an excellent driver when she’s not there. After the umpteenth repetition of that song and dance, though, I feel sort of like someone who insists they’re invisible so long as no one’s looking at them. Maybe they’re right, but it’s more likely they’re just full of crap and possibly mentally ill.
Anyway, I told you this story because the Audi R8 is coming to the office in two weeks. It’s the most expensive car I’ve ever been allowed to touch, but here’s the catch: Stephanie isn’t going to let me lay a finger on it if I don’t get my act together and stop trying to vehicularly manslaughterize her every time we go out.
Can I get my act together in time? Are the streets safe for ordinary drivers? Why did I post this, given that the fleet managers are going to insist that I stop driving their cars once they read it? Watch this space. In the meantime, hit me with your anti-distraction driving tips in the comments.