Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I love driving. Not the act itself, mind you. While there’s no doubt everyone else on the road is an idiot (and they are all thinking the same about me), I never forget that I’m driving a couple tons of metal death to anything that chances across my path. Squirrels. Smart cars. Old ladies with walkers. Kids chasing their soccer balls into the street (although that one doesn’t really happen much anymore, kids being far more likely to be using digital soccer balls on their Playstations). A few things are immune, like big rig trucks, buses, and trains, but pretty much anything else that I drive over is going to either a) die, or b) be very late for work. Cars are dangerous, deadly weapons, and everyone sixteen or over is entitled to try and use one. Best of all, you only have to display skill with this terrifying device ONCE in order to be cleared for decades of use. Isn’t that crazy? You have to get retested every couple of years for your first aid certificate, or to handle anhydrous ammonia, and your body count using either of those skills improperly is NEVER going to be able to match a single afternoon joyriding through the local mall.
My point is, I don’t find driving relaxing. I don’t believe it should be relaxing, the same way you shouldn’t be casual about lighting someone’s cigarette with a flamethrower. Discretion is advised. No, the reason I love driving so much is sloth.
That’s always been my favourite among the classic “Seven Deadly Sins.” All of them have their merits, but ‘sloth’ is the only one that I can do all day. I suppose I can envy all day, too, but how is that fun? The same goes for greed or pride. There’s only so much mileage you can get out of strutting around snatching candy from children and proclaiming “That’s right, I’m the best.” Being wrathful or lusty is tiring, so after a few (seconds? minutes?) hours I’m right back to sloth. As for gluttony, forget it. What’s the first thing you want to do after a huge meal? Take a nap, right? Boom, sloth wins again.
Primarily, then, I drive because I am lazy. The number of times I have driven two blocks to 7-11 to buy something unhealthy are legion. We have a grocery store four minutes away by foot. Four minutes! I’ve timed it. That’s close, particularly when you consider turtles can lap me in a footrace. Yet I often drive. I would probably hop in the car and drive to the fridge if my house was paved.
Laziness is not limited to overuse of motorized transportation. Like many nerds, I often play the “what superpower would you have game.” Sometimes I have grand dreams, where I save the world from itself or become a Dr. Evil-style villain, complete with ridiculous cackle and desire to crush all free will. More times than not, however, I end up imagining how those world-changing, awe-inspiring super-powers would make my daily life easier.
Teleportation? No more waiting in traffic on my way to the school. Flight? Changing lightbulbs in a 10-foot ceiling would be so easy, not to mention getting leaves out of the gutters. Mind control? Think of how many people there are who could fetch me things! Super-strength? That would be an end to the days of struggling with the pickle jar. The list is endless. You give me a super-power, I’ll find a way to use it in a prosaic and mundane fashion. Really, a car is just a super-power that you can buy, giving you the ability to travel at a speed our ancestors wouldn't even believe.
The “super-power” game is something I’ve played forever, and I have to admit the uses to which the powers are put changes as I age. As a kid, it was all about defeating fictional bad guys or defending me and my friends from bullies. As a teenager, pretty much any power was used to get girls to like me (“Hey, baby, want to see me juggle cars?”). Now it’s all about sloth. In a few decades, my powers will almost certainly be bent towards the destruction of those pesky kids that walk on my lawn and make all the racket with their new-fangled music.
I will be the bad-guy that they will use THEIR fake powers to beat. Life will come full circle.