Maybe it's just me, but it seems like it's getting harder and harder to drive around town. When I moved to Nashville back in the early '80s, driving was almost fun. Drivers would actually stop at the white stop bar in an intersection and wave folks through. I called that gesture the Nashville wave, and I was proud of my fellow Nashvillians for being so accommodating. Lately though, in-town driving has turned into a chore. Nobody gives the wave anymore, but some do give the finger.
I know, I know. Everybody complains about driving in town. But things are different now. First of all, people decided a few years back that they needed bigger cars. Way bigger cars. Two-story-double-wide cars, I call them as they block the view of the cars and traffic lights ahead.
Now, in 2011, people are figuring out that we citizens are all about two-thirds broke because so many folks bought house-sized cars and cathedral-sized houses. And they're uppity about it. For instance, a while back, I pulled into a parking spot on 21st Avenue and found myself behind a Mercedes SUV about the size of a trailer park trailer. The bumper sticker on the Mercedes had a slogan: "How Many Lives Per Gallon?" Well, if I'd figured the problem in miles instead of lives, the answer at the time would've been 12 miles per gallon.
Now that we have an NFL team in town, there's apparently an unstated rule that everybody heading to the stadium needs to drive a monster truck that's wider than their half of the road. And believe me when I tell you: those people want to race, burn rubber and swap paint.
All these things are troublesome, but not nearly so troublesome as the driving texters. These days, when a Nashville driver pulls up to the stop bar, it's not to give another driver the Nashville wave. Those people are stopping so they can get busy texting, moving their thumbs at the speed of Superman's Supermonkey, Beppo. Of course, most texters don't stop at all. I drove behind a FedEx truck for a half-hour one day, and the driver never looked up from his monkey-thumbing.
Which reminds me of a story that I heard from a very nice real estate lady a few years back. She said she was driving down I-65 one afternoon when she looked over to see a man in a burgundy SUV, uh, pleasuring himself. "I called the police on my phone," she said. "They asked for a description."
"What description did you give," I asked.
"Well," she said, "I told them that he was the only masturbating man I'd seen all day in a burgundy SUV."
"Well," I responded, "that description should have been good enough."
Which brings me to this: You monkey-thumbing, lane-jumping monster-truckers, listen to me: When you get ready to buy another vehicle, get one with some useful gizmos. If you haven't noticed, just about every roadworthy car these days has a dashboard full of gizmos and gadgets that make driving safer and maybe even a little more fun. For instance: You can pair your mobile phone with the gizmos in your car and you can take — and make — calls from your steering wheel.
I'm not making this up. Your steering wheel will ring, you'll push a button to answer, and the caller will tell you that you sound like you're in a cave. Even with the cavelike echo, the phone-on-your-wheel gizmo will let you have a perfectly satisfactory conversation with your caller. And you don't even have to wear one of those odd Bluetooth hearing aids. Note to folks who haven't noticed: When a call comes in to your Bluetooth hearing aid, a blue light blinks through your hair and makes you look like some kind of robot invader.
Swell modern cars also have iPod hookups. You don't have to listen to Boston, Kansas, Chicago or any other act named after a city. You just plug a tiny cable into your iPod, and you've got traveling music. But wait! There's more! You can change radio stations just by pushing another button on your steering wheel.
All that said, I'd be pleased if the good local folk would just stop at the stop bar and wave me through. And if you're going down I-65, please don't give me no lines and keep your hand to yourself.
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