Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How's My Driving?

If I asked for a show of hands, probably most of you would raise your hand if I asked if you've ever seen a "How's My Driving?" bumper sticker. Am I right? Most of you have to have seen one of these stickers, right? I mean, really, surely you have. Come on. OK, let's have a show of hands. Yes, that's most of you. As for a few of you who didn't raise your hand, you've got to be lying, don't you? Let's have a show of hands, how many of you are lying?

I'm thinking, If I have a bumper sticker on my car and someone's writing down the number, I'm thinking, "Oh crap, they're writing down my number!" Then they'd be calling it, and hopefully they'd get one of those "Press 1 for English, Press 2 for something else" machines, get discouraged, and hang up. Or the number would need some complicated information off my vehicle, like my vehicle number, to which I've added eight extra digits, and they'd hang up.

Still, you can't depend on people. They can be very persistent with a genuine gripe. Like if I ran them off the road or even something not quite that egregious. Speaking for myself, then, my own constant anxiety might make me a pretty good driver if I had to have the bumper sticker.

But then we have those who've had the bumper sticker for years, and it's not too tough to imagine they get complacent. They know the actual truth, that hardly anyone is going to call the number even if they do something wrong. People don't want to get involved, or they're nice and don't want the guy to lose his job. That's my problem. I've seen them do all kinds of things wrong but I've never called.

And I doubt it really makes much of a difference anyway. Although, who knows? Maybe they're on it like a ton of bricks. To the point of having a big control center with a big huge TV screen and satellites tracking the vehicles and matching up with real time stats, speed, adherence to the road, etc. They might have a guy who's living dangerously. Just one more call and they guy's done for!

So they're tracking him. Then a call comes in. And the operator completely bypasses the "Press 1 for English" stuff and takes the call. There's just a few words of complaint from the reporter and the operator's sending the word upstream: "Uh, we have a problem with 113482, another complaint ... Cut his power!" So wherever he is, the truck, the car goes dead and he pulls it over to the side. A light flashes on the dashboard: "BUSTED!"

I go both ways on this. I like efficiency, but that might be too efficient. He ought to have a grace period till he gets to a rest stop, at least.

Just another word on the anxiety this could cause for drivers, having the bumper sticker. In their case, it might make their driving less safe, because they're so worried about every offense. So they're over-thinking their driving and their instincts are dulled. Or they might notice someone writing down their number and become erratic, even criminal, trying to chase people down and run them off the road. They go over a cliff and the guy runs down to get your notepad. How many have died because of the bumper sticker?

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