Switching Gears by Using Paper to Cover Fire

I am scared. I like quiet. I’m easily bothered by noise. I spend much of my days in libraries. I get startled and jump out of my seat quite easily. So, because of all these points and characteristics, I think I’ve generated enough reasons to support why I’m a slow driver. What in the world is the link?

I drive a standard. Most of the people I know say I am a waste of a standard and do it disgrace. They say it’s painful to sit in the passenger side of my car while watching me drive as if I’m on eggshells. In a nutshell, I drive slow, or more accurately, I am slow to accelerate and reach peak speed. The exact reason for this is because I shift too quickly. People are right, I do.

And here is when the connection to noise and disturbances come back full circle. When trying to hold down the gas longer before shifting gears, the car gets noisy as you rev. I often find it noisy even at 3000 rpms and shift at or just under this number. The passengers shake their heads in disgust. And I guess if there are cars behind me stopped at a traffic light, they shake their fists (and the odd finger) in disgust when the light turns green because it’s obvious that I lose speed and momentum when shifting. I am sorry.

Whenever the rpms go up, and I hear that noise, am I intuitively thinking I’m doing damage to the car? Or, am I suddenly thrust into the role of a sadist when I’m obviously more stable and at home at the other end, according to every single psychological test that I have ever done. Of course other drivers are not going to have the patience to allow me to get out of my car and explain this at the next set of lights. So, another solution is needed.

How can I resist my natural tendency to shift gears in search of quiet and to avoid the noise of high rpms? Well, this past week, I test drove an idea with music. I increased the volume of my tunes and purposely selected music that was not gentle. In this way, the music slightly covered up, softened, or insulated a bit of the sound from the engine. And I also decided to not look at my rpm gauge, since I tend to automatically switch when the dial hits 3.

Admittedly, it worked. I felt something, a little bit, just a small bit of that adrenalin that they always advertise to full throttle in those car commercials. I have never taken Viagra, but is this what they mean when they say what they mean…you know what I mean?

Anyways, just like what they mean, you can’t keep it up forever, especially if it’s just not in your personality. Soon after, I was getting bothered by the loud music and trying to think of ways to cover up and drown out that noise. Eventually, quite naturally, I didn’t have to look hard to hear another sound that clearly smothered everything else to minimalistic background. My beating heart!

These days, beside my insurance, license, and registration info, I keep copies containing results of my psychological tests and medical records. In case other drivers, passengers, or even police, are curious why I switch gears so early.

-Patrick Law

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5 Comments

Filed under Detours: Psychology of Driving

5 responses to “Switching Gears by Using Paper to Cover Fire

  1. mistermanly

    Hi Patrick,

    Driving a standard shift, no matter how poorly, is manly. If your passengers don’t like the speed you maintain, pull over and kick them out. Beggars, after all, shouldn’t be choosers.

    As to the twits who don’t have the driving skill to pass your slow ass, consider giving this a try. Speed up a bit so your car is running well in high gear. If the idiots behind are still on your bumper, which is likely, shift into second gear and pop the clutch. This will quickly decrease your speed without putting your brake lights on, most likely causing the jerk behind you to bump into you. He/she will be hitting you from behind and, if you are careful not to touch your brake, which would burn out your broken lights, the cops will be all over them, and their insurance company will write you a big fat check for your neck pain, and their insurance rate will double. Even if they don’t hit you, odds are the driver’s seat will be wet afterward.

    Note, I don’t do this myself for the simple reason that 60 to 70 percent of the drivers in my area don’t have insurance, and almost no one tailgates my battered pickup with the shotgun in the back window.

    Drive safe,
    Mister Manly

  2. Rick

    Put a “New Driver” sign up in the back of your window… must people will either not drive behind you, or forgive the fact that you are new.

    Playing your music isn’t the solution, you want to be able to hear your engine rev, to feel all 120 horses that you paid for. Yes, I said 120. In any case, scared, paranoid drivers can be just as dangerous on the road than fast, reckless drivers.

    Mister Manly, if someone is tailing you because you are driving slow, then move aside and let them pass, if someone is tailing you when you are driving the speed limit, then just continue to drive the speed limit. Just because you have a shotgun in clear view of your battered pickup…………

    Pat – if you are worried about shifting, trade up for an automatic, if you are worried about fuel efficiency, then get a more fuel efficient automatic. If you just like to drive standard, then drive standard and stop being afraid to push her past 4k, or even 5. If you’re not sure why you’re driving, then stop driving, problem solved :).

  3. Your Blog is very interesting and nicely written.
    anil kapoor

  4. Mr Manly,
    Thanks again for your always humorous comments. A lot of times, for some reason, your comments give me the feeling that you’re on my team, hehe. In sports, often have a saying ‘rather have you on my side than have to play against you.’

    Rick,
    As always, hehe, your blunt style is unmistakeable. And, often, very needed because it offers good counterpoints to my usual ways of over thinking an experience. Yes, simplify, and basically if drive, just drive, but gosh…all this time on the roads…I got to occupy myself with some stories, don’t I? I find I get bored if I just do Point A to Point B everyday, so I hope you’ll allow me the odd fantasy…hehehe…

    Please take it easy on Mr Manly…, he’s on my team, hehehe. And Rick, I’ve seen you use the ‘shotgun’ approach in other contexts…maybe not exactly the physical gun..but you’ve had your share of symbolic threats, hehehe…. As for me, I still got the football in the backseat.

    Anil,
    Thanks for visiting this blog and your compliments on the writing. Hope you can return and read more in the future.

    -patrick

  5. Rick

    Back to the original topic – just learn how to drive stick the way it was intended. They don’t put a manual transmission in a Porche so that you can shift at 3000 rpm.

    Keep the road rage out.

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