I’m a bad passenger in a car for the simple reason that most people are bad drivers. Yes, that means you. Everybody thinks three things about themselves – they have a sense of humor, they have a winning personality, and they’re a good driver.
No, no, and most certainly no. This is because most people lack self awareness. The technical term for this is illusory superiority but I prefer my own definition of dumb fuck. I of course am hugely wonderful in these three things. I once made a cat laugh for instance. True story. So my sense of humor is up there with people like Morgan Freeman. As for winning personality, while I admit on occasion just before we are to go out to some public event my wife will gently remind me that maybe, just maybe it would be better if I didn’t rip the head off the first person who mentions how green conscious they are, this is in no way a poor reflection on my ability to “get on with others”.
(Get on with others was a subject when I went to school. We never studied it per se, but it was always in our report cards with a corresponding mark. I soon came to interpret it as an ability to shut the hell up when people are speaking obvious rubbish).
And as for driving, well, that’s a given. I have self awareness. That is the most important trait for a driver. Or a pedestrian for that matter. Or someone skiing. Have you ever been skiing down a slope and you spot someone who is stopped on the side of the run with their back to you, and a little voice in your head warns you to give them a wide berth because you just know what is about to happen next, and sure enough the fucker sets off right as you pass him which is unfortunate as his method of departing is to ski out into the center of the piste without looking.
This is because this moron lacks self awareness. He has not even considered for a moment that other people might be using the ski piste. He paid his money to be here today so it is his piste. He owns it, literally, and he will get his money’s worth goddammit.
People ski like they drive.
So I am not a good passenger. I routinely pump what is known as the imaginary brake pedal which is usually to no avail. When I am really worried I’ll give it a couple of really good thumps in the hope that the imbecile sitting next to me might get the message.
Before I get into any taxi I tell the driver what I expect of him. I want a safe braking distance between us and the other cars, that’s it. In Africa I used to tell them that I did not want the fear. They understood what I meant, every single time.
I have read that future driverless cars will be able to keep no more than a few inches apart at full speed due to the tracking technology. Fuck that shit, man. The only way I’ll travel like that is if I have a real fake brake pedal that I can pump like a deranged lunatic throughout the journey. Most other people won’t have a problem with being inches from death for the simple fact that they are morons who lack all self awareness. Plus they’re on their mobile phones all the time.
I first learned self awareness when I was a mad keen cyclist as a young man. To survive back in those days you really had to anticipate what the vehicles on the road were going to do. You had to get in the drivers’ heads. By getting in other people’s heads you are then able to get inside your own. Surprising but true. This ability served me well when I graduated to motorbikes. It was especially valuable to my customers when I was a rafting guide.
I used it to good effect when I used to teach offshore oil workers how not to blow up themselves, their co-workers, and their entire facility. I was supposed to teach them a whole bunch of technical shit but really I just did my best to teach them self awareness. What I would do was to tell them what I expected of them in a safety sense. Then we would go out onto the platform and I would get them focused on a task. This would cause them to lose their situational awareness. They would be really intent on the task at hand. Meanwhile I’d get someone else to saunter out onto the platform and begin to work in an obviously dangerous way, right in the middle of a group of twenty trainees. I’d have this guy hanging off a ladder while bashing a supposedly live pipe with a hammer.
Not a word. People would look up in an irritated manner. Can’t you see we’re working on this stupid task this fuckwit instructor has got us to do? Could you just stop all that banging? Hey, he isn’t wearing a helmet. Should I say something? Is anyone else saying anything? Nope. Okay, I don’t want to say anything if nobody else isn’t saying something. Don’t want to look stupid now.
I’d get the offshore installation manager to watch this from an elevated location. He was always certain that his guys would immediately pick up on what I was going to do. They used to tell me it was a waste of time. I loved it when they said that shit. I used to let them go on and on about how awesome their workers were. The longer they talked shit the better. Then he’d watch as I got a guy to wander out and start fucking with the fixed gas detection systems without a permit to do so.
Not a word. Crickets. The look on the OIM’s faces was priceless. They had been so sure that all was good and that their workforce and thus they themselves were awesome sauce.
No fucking self awareness.