Sunday, February 1, 2009

I drive, therefore I think.

I've been taking a course in Toronto lately. There's a fair bit of extra driving, but I like driving. Driving, mind you, not sitting on the freeway waiting for impossibly slow people.
Being a country boy, certain brilliant standards declare me slow and uncouth. Granted, the rural lifestyle typically has a slower pace than a large, self-important city. But in my case, the slow gene didn't even bother visiting. As a young lad I bought a KX 125. That's a screaming dirtbike for a 130 pound teenager. I can't tell you the pure joy it brought me to slam through those six gears like a rabid dog.
That natural hyperactivity transfered nicely to my driving. I can deal with volume and several things happening at once. In fact, I practise these skills. Driving isn't just transportation. It's an opportunity to think strategically, to better understand ebb and flow. Traffic is like an enormous machine, and I study how its gears work.
What? Are you saying that you've got better things to do with your time than think about traffic patterns? That's too bad, 'cause otherwise you might have been the one to spot a malevolent theme. But you didn't, so I get to blow the whistle.

In a dim subterranean hall in your city, a small group of people sit around a solid table in a plush room telling old jokes and discussing Yahtzee scores. While the men sip Tang and the women stay thin with Tab, they plot the beginning of your day.
Traffic jams are so normal that we've come to accept them as unavoidable. We forget that in a larger picture their existence barely registers. But not everyone forgets. Years past, some had experience enough to note this change before it happened. We usually see them throwing their hands up in dispair. Clever, really.
After you fought through the 14th traffic snarl yesterday morning and discovered that beyond it there was nothing to slow people down, did you notice who was driving the lead vehicle? Traffic was roaring along in the free world, except for the black hole behind the slow driver in the wrong lane. Yeah, you noticed? Did you take a close enough look to see a sneer edging their lips? I didn't think so. You were too busy thinking about getting to work, paying bills, resolving the dispute with so-and-so, whatever. Your mind was barely on the task at hand, and so you missed what all the other rats missed.
I've seen too much consistency to believe that the Black Hole of Freeway Slowness is anything but purposeful. Consider that the free market is supply and demand. Isolate the staples of life, which have a constant demand, control the supply, and you wield fantastic power. Don't allow yourself to be beguiled by the elderly face at the front of that seemingly inexplicable BHFS. They aren't helpless, and they're definitely not scared. You are a tool in their hand, a pawn in the Big Game.

And you thought your day-to-day existence hardly mattered.
Cunningly weaving their apparent innocence from a "slower day gone by" with years of contacts and wisdom, a sinister group of elderly speculators is determining the direction of your wallet. I mentioned the free market. We all have a basic understanding of it. A storm is conjectured to be brewing 1800 miles away and gas prices go up. Supply and demand. Until the bright light of vintage wisdom shone upon me after passing the 732nd baffling BHFS, I thought as you do: Western corporations are evil giants out to bleed the public dry. Well, perhaps you don't think like that. Nevertheless, It's not true. CEOs, CTOs, CFOs, and maybe UFOs have parents too. How many of us, adults though we be, are willing to risk the wrath of our parents today? Not only that, nobody want to face the possibility of never leaving the BHFS.
"John, we feel that these prices just aren't fair to the public..."
"Fair! You want fair?! Your mother and I had a good life before you were born."
"Uhhh Dad, really. This isn't the image the company wants to present. ACME Global Acquisitions..."
"Shut Up! AGA can rot in hell without good supply routes."
"But your percentages have gone up this year."
"And they're about to go up again, if'n you know what I mean."
Seriously. How much choice do these poor souls have? Comply or face the reality of being stuck in traffic and watching your shipments consistently arrive late. If your company is incapable of supplying demand, you might as well look for a new job.
Is the picture snapping into focus? Next time you crawl through a horde of slow vehicles and spot the leader of a BHFS, change to the far lane. They might not be able to see your plates from there. This is a secret society wielding a power which I am only beginning to grasp. The proverbial tip of the iceberg. I just hope traffic isn't backed up to my laneway tomorrow morning.
At least I'm hoping this is the explanation for traffic patterns.

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