I saw this and thought it’s about time I wrote about my conversion to an aggressive driver.
I’ve always been a “Decisive” driver.
My friend M trusts no-one driving, but will fall asleep as a passenger in my car. That probably ties back to us turning off of Sherman Way on to DeSoto one night.
Right after we made the turn probably 30 yards up De Soto there were two cars full of teen agers STOPPED dead in both lanes, having a conversation.
I was a teen ager at the time, but even then I thought “These people are fucking stupid!”
I mean they’d stopped completely out of sight until you made the turn and yet they’d parked close enough that once you completed the turn you had no time to react.
I concluded two things. 1) My little Datsun B-210 was narrow enough to fit in the space between the two stopped cars, and 2) I couldn’t stop if I wanted to.
So I didn’t. We sailed between the two cars interrupting the moronic conversation of the occupants and kept on going. To this day I don’t know what the hell they did after we passed, I really didn’t care.
I’m hoping that my sailing between them taught them a lesson. Hopefully… have your damn conversation in a driveway, parking lot, or in front of your home, NOT on a main street. I doubt it…
I still smile at the memory of the stunned look M gave me. I don’t recall him saying much of anything at the time. Perhaps it was because we both had to pee so bad.
After that M would fall asleep if it was a late night, and I’d done the driving.
I’m a fast driver, I like to move and I don’t have any patience for bullshit games on the road.
Perhaps it’s because I recognize the physics of driving a 1500Lb (or greater) car at 65 miles per hour (or greater) and what happens if you try to violate rules of physics.
The germane one in this conversation being momentum, and the Newtonian principal “Every object in uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.”
Translation… Sure, the car may stop on impact… but the objects in the car continue on at 65+ miles per hour… at least until they smack into the dash, or windshield.
Momentum is a stone bitch! All that energy has to go somewhere and I prefer that it not get translated into my body in less than a tenth of a second.
I suppose that part of my driving style is due to my Father, he liked to go fast.
Part of my style is from drivers ed, back when the teacher with the biggest balls was actually in a car… with a student driver.
Those cars were custom jobs manufactured explicitly for drivers ed classes with driver controls replicated in the passenger seat. One of the big 3 in Detroit, either donated or provided at substantial discount to the schools.
You know back in the day when you didn’t have to worry about a lawyer crawling out of the slime to sue if little Johnny slammed his finger in the door of the school drivers ed car. Lawyers! Don’t get me started on Lawyers!
I learned to drive in rain, slush, and snow. We sometimes even practiced a little bit on icy surfaces in the school parking lot. Nothing too serious but enough to show us by example how dangerous icy roads could be.
I learned defensive driving. There used to be PSAs on TV about how important Defensive Driving was and where you could get information about becoming a defensive driver.
The principal is simple, PAY ATTENTION! Keep a decent following distance, be courteous, don’t obstruct traffic, watch the traffic ahead and look for patterns. We were taught to watch for tell tales like smoke coming from someones tire. (A signal of imminent blowout)
If there was a lot of sudden activity ahead of you, brake lights, and odd motions from other vehicles, SLOW DOWN. The odds were something was in the road that you couldn’t see.
If you’re in the slow lane maintain space in front of you to allow oncoming traffic space to merge. In other words don’t cut people off.
The reverse was that if you were getting on the freeway, merge into the space other drivers provided DON’T accelerate to force your way in between two cars trying to get one stinking car ahead.
There are a ton of other common sense rules that few, if anyone in California or anywhere obeys anymore. But these are the rules that I was taught to drive with and still apply today… To a point.
My Friend M has driven BMWs for years. Shortly after he got his first BMW I noticed that he was really aggressive, and as time went on he became more so.
It was a nice car, but I didn’t think he needed to be an ass. On a lovely trip to Hawaii I must admit his driving was scary aggressive.
He’d just completed a BMW driver training class at Willow Springs Raceway, however a rental POS Ford escort is not in any way a BMW. The roads on the Big Island of Hawaii while encircling the island… are not in any way a race track.
I noticed that the aggression leveled out and M is and always has been a fast, safe, excellent driver. So I figured this was a holdover from some of the track days he’d been enjoying at Willow Springs. I never really attributed it to BMW-jerk syndrome.
Years passed. I went through a few cars mostly due to driving the hell out of them going to and from work everyday.
Then one year I decided I wanted a Mini Cooper S.
I ordered it, 6 months later I picked it up and began customizing it.
When I had it in for service, Invariably I got a nice BMW 3 Series as a loaner car.
That’s when I first noticed an interesting phenomena.
I’d have trouble pulling out of the dealership. The BMW worked just fine but people would change lanes to make sure I couldn’t safely make a right out of the dealerships driveway.
I mean, they’d change lanes and start pacing another car for no apparent reason.
The first time it happened I thought I was just having a strange day because I needed to get to work and was impatient to get a move on.
Subsequent times when I had a BMW loaner I noticed things like people pacing me, or when I signaled to change lanes on the freeway people would accelerate into my blind spot and sit there obstructing any ability to change lanes and often preventing my exit from the freeway.
I started noticing people tailgating more frequently and much closer. There were folks who would change lanes without a signal, often with less than a car length in front of me then slam on their brakes for no reason. If I wasn’t driving defensively I’d have hit them.
People would toss crap out their windows in front of me. The remnants of cokes and water bottles. This would happen a lot on some of the freeways I traveled in LA and the Inland Empire. (The modern equivalent of flinging poo?)
At first I thought it was me. Perhaps it was the way I was driving, but if I drove my Explorer I had no trouble.
When I was in the Mini I had no problems either.
Except for one very notable occasion on the 210 when I passed someone in the fast lane and they got upset. I never did figure out what their problem was, but when three beat up pickup trucks towing rusty trailers started playing games in formation and obviously boxing me in then squeezing into my lane one night, I called 911.
I truly feared for my life and after topping 110 to escape these trucks I transitioned to a freeway going away from home instead of toward home. I got off the freeway then pulled into a parking lot and waited for the shakes to subside. The CHP never bothered to show up… even though I was fairly screaming at the 911 operator that I was very afraid and needed help. In the end, I escaped by my own wits, speed and being able to outmaneuver the aggressors.
I chalked that one up to some kind of road rage, or “Hey lets screw around with the little car“.
My beloved Mini was damaged beyond repair when the house burned.
My Mini was serviced by a BMW dealership, this is true of most Minis. After the fire I was dealing with the service people at the dealership that had done all the service and upgrades on my Mini.
The dealer service manager arranged an appointment for me to come in to explain to me and show me why my Mini was totaled. After delivering the bad news and the insurance adjusters report the service manager marched me upstairs to fleet sales and said, “This customer needs a new car.” (Great sales technique… and actually kind because I was completely broken hearted.)
I found that I couldn’t get another Mini, at least not in the time I had, with the options I wanted. Custom ordering a car is a ton of fun but not if you don’t have a few months to wait.
The bright spot was that a brand new BMW with all the options I wanted and in a price range I could afford was arriving at Long Beach Harbor in 2 days. Yes, Direct from “der Vaterland“, Leipzig to be exact.
I explained that I’d thought about this particular model as a replacement for the Mini but that plan was supposed to be several years off.
The fleet manager tossed me the keys to her demo and told me to go have some fun. I did… a few hours later I came back and told her “I want one”.
She just smiled. “Yep, I figured you’d say that. I’m going to have to snag it from a friend but he owes me one.”
Two days later I was the proud owner of a new BMW.
My conversion to the dark side began immediately.
I hadn’t even gotten on the freeway and I had a guy accelerate to cut me off leaving the dealership driveway.
I got to the freeway then took my new beast home. Thankfully it was mid afternoon and traffic was fairly light. I got home without incident.
The next day I took photos of my new baby in the driveway of the rental house. (Photos which I can’t seem to lay my hands on right at the moment.)
It was a spectacular weekend, unfortunately I didn’t have anyplace I really wanted to go. There’s nothing like a new convertible on a sunny weekend. But i was content to have the new car safely in the garage.
Going to work on Monday was the first of a series of adventures that resulted in my BMW induced aggression.
Let me explain.
Paper plate BMWs are targets… it’s just that simple.
At first I thought is was folks trying to eye the new model. This was the first year the 1 series was in production. Soon it was obvious that people was taking more than a passing interest in the new model.
As I got closer to South LA, people appeared to be getting more aggressive. No, that’s too nice. These people were outright hostile.
Believe me… I didn’t want to get a scratch on this beastie. I was trying to get to the credit union so they’d finance the rest of my purchase.
What started to become insanely questionable was, IF I was going to get to the credit union without being run off the road or involved in and accident.
Clearly driving normally wasn’t cutting it. I tried slowing down and moving into the slow lane.
No joy… just made it worse, because now I was dealing with people getting on the freeway and for all the world acting like they were trying to make me hit them.
You know 300 horsepower is really a lot of power. I’m a firm believer in the philosophy that if you’re not where someone strikes, they can’t hit you.
The cars’ HP and the philosophy led me inexorably to… “Lets see what the twins can do. Followed by a hearty… Whee!”
And I was gone…
The Ultimate Driving Machine AKA the Aryan SuperCar purred then zipped out of the slow lane into traffic.
This action left the grinning idiot in the rusted out POS Honda CRX with the farty exhaust system almost hitting the stopped garbage truck in front of him.
The idiot had been doing his best to either impact my passenger door or make it look like I hit him.
When I accelerated away he also accelerated trying to keep up with me… OOOOppps The garbage truck wasn’t moving quite as fast.
My heart bled for him. Really, it did there was even a tear!
Back then, I thought perhaps it was just another manic day and traffic was a little stranger than usual.
My beast & I arrived at the credit union intact & unscathed, the financing went off without a hitch.
Going home from work that night there were other incidents and close calls mostly where people would just cut in front of me without a signal then lock their brakes up. The Ultimate Driving Machine has excellent brakes and an even more impressive ABS system.
Within a week I’d come to the conclusion that it wasn’t just a manic day or week, and that it wasn’t my driving. If I was in the Explorer, which had by this time just been resurrected from burns and damage it had suffered in the fire, there were no incidents.
If I was in the BMW it was inevitable that at least 2 or 3 times during the commute someone would accelerate to cut me off, force their way onto or off of a freeway causing me to have to brake hard or they’d simply prevent me from changing lanes.
I got into the habit of not using my signals on the 91 or 405 freeways anywhere West of Bellflower.
It was just easier not to give someone the heads up that I wished to change lanes or get off the freeway. It seemed that whenever I did signal… there would always be someone ready and willing to make a simple lane change on my part as difficult as possible.
As time went on, I found myself driving fast, maneuvering through slower traffic like a hunting wolf through the forest. I’m far more aggressive today than I used to be. I was a moving target alright, the faster moving the better!
I’ve actually had people hanging out of the window of their vehicles with cameras and camera phones snapping pictures of me driving on the freeway with the top down. All of this going on at 75MPH on a freeway, with even the driver of the other vehicle taking pictures.
Do you have any questions about why I’ll do my level best to stay away from other cars and people?
I haven’t gotten to the point that I’m running through pedestrian crossings.
I do have little patience for people that step down, back up, then down, then up then step in front of the car when I’ve decided they aren’t actually going to cross the street. That’s not car dependent… it’s ALWAYS! I’ve always had a short fuse about that kind of thing. Make up your mind and let all of us get on with our lives!
Oh and as an aside, a pedestrian is expected to CROSS the road not meander at an oblique angle across all traffic lanes as so many people do these days in shopping center parking lots.
Even in parking lots if I park in the furthest corner of a lot, when I come back there will be at least two cars parked badly on either side of mine. They’re usually beaters and badly parked. I have no idea what the hell thats about.
There can be 1000 other empty spaces and yet a beat to hell POS will be parked so close and crooked in the slot next to me that I can’t open my car door. I’ve actually had to put the top down just to be able to get in the car when I wanted to leave.
All of which is to say that there is a great deal more to BMW drivers being “Jerks” than is discussed in the piece that started me down this path.
I believe there is a pervasive thought process in many folks who do not drive BMWs that take one of maybe three paths.
1 That person is rich and If I can force them to hit me I can score big time.
2 That person is flaunting their money & power and I don’t like them because they obviously have more than I do. I’m going to screw with them as payback.
3 That person thinks they’re entitled and I’m going to prove to them they’re not. (Prius drivers)
I’m not sure that any of these paths are on a conscious level.
The BMW driver on the other hand is thinking
1 OH shit don’t hit me, I just got the car back from the last accident where the other guy wasn’t insured. My insurance company will triple my rates if that car, or that car, or that car, or that POS gardening truck hits me, or drops a weed eater on my hood.
2 Please, I don’t want to race you… just go! I’m really content to cruise right here in the next to slow lane.
3 Alright, this has gotten just way too dangerous. Time to light it up! (Thats when the BMW driver breaks for daylight topping 100 MPH to get away from the insanity.) AKA Jerk Mode
I’ll admit that there are BMW drivers out there that are without a doubt, dumbasses. I absolutely believe that Teenagers and new drivers shouldn’t be driving BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, Land Rover, Corvettes, or Lexus.
Many of these cars are built for performance and it’s a lot easier to get into trouble a lot faster with them.
I shudder to think what I’d have been like as an 18 year old with a BMW.
The Datsun and later the Mazda Wagon was by far a better choice (Thanks Mom & Dad!) I had enough speeding tickets in those two vehicles!
I can think of a few ethnicities / genders that you must avoid at all costs in shopping center parking lots because they will run through pedestrian crosswalks without stopping. And yes, they are often driving BMWs.
A fairly recent immigrant friend of mine summed it up this way, “Dude, you gotta remember that last year those folks were shitting in a hole. This year they’re driving BMW and Mercedes Benz. What do you expect?”
He went on to explain that where he came from, the warlords, corrupt rich generals, and the obscenely wealthy, aka powerful all drove BMW and Mercedes. The rest of the people walk…
So the first thing people from his former country do when they get here, is buy one of those two cars. Even if they can’t drive, they still have one in the driveway. It’s a symbol to them of prestige.
And maybe that’s part of the problem…
A lot of folks come here still holding onto the “old country” ways. The new “Haves” (via loan documents) reinforce their self esteem by purchasing their former enemies symbol of power.
The really poor have nots demonstrate their hatred of those symbols unconsciously in ways they never could have in the old country.
The anonymity provided in their cars allows them to take their pound of flesh so to speak, by acting out against the symbols of their former oppressors. Sort of like flinging Yak shit after the evil generals car once he’s turned the corner out of your village.
My conversion is complete. I’ve embraced my inner asshole.
After the first year with my car, I came to the conclusion that the only way to survive was to stay away from the morons.
So Today… I drive fast, I plan my path, I maneuver, I’m impatient, I will not put up with morons playing pace cars at 65 miles an hour, Get the hell out of the way because I don’t want to be involved in your accident. Get off your phone, stop texting, if you want to do 40 fine! Get into the slow lane, or off the freeway.
Trucks, secure your loads, I’ll call your company and I’ll demand repayment for damage that your rocks, sand, and debris does to my car. I’ll take pictures and then send those photos to your supervisors complete with date, time, and GPS coordinates. I worked hard for my nice car and you don’t have the right to fuck it up due to your carelessness or laziness.
I will stop for pedestrians. Especially if I can figure out what the hell the pedestrian is doing. If I can’t figure it out, and there’s another way to go I will. Or I’ll wait annoyed because one person is thoughtlessly taking up my time and the time of all the other drivers stuck behind me, while they wander in the traffic lanes of a shopping center looking for their car.
I won’t generally tailgate. Although there are some people who think that two car lengths isn’t enough space between them and a BMW but they’ll have no problem with a KIA 6 feet off their rear bumper. (Folks… it’s tap the brake pedal to flash your brake lights… NOT SLAM ON YOUR BRAKES TO ELIMINATE THE FOLLOWING DISTANCE!)
I took my car on a nice road trip last year. Once I was 80 miles outside of California, all the sudden the rules of the road, courtesy, & respect, were back in effect. It was nice to just be able to set the cruise control, drive and enjoy the sights.
It was also an amazing relief to be able to turn off the “Jerk” mode. I’m wanting to take a road trip this fall but it’s looking more and more like that’s not going to happen. I was looking forward to turning off “Jerk” mode again and just enjoying the car & sights.
I guess maybe I am a “Jerk”
I love my BMW.
It’s the fourth car I’ve felt this way about.
It’s comfortable, fast, quiet, and looks good.
For me, who commonly puts 300,000 miles on a vehicle it’s about having something that will last. BMWs are renown for lasting so it’s about value for my dollar, not prestige.
Believe me… when I have to pay for Gasoline, Service, or Tires, I do rethink my choice.
But then I get into my car and it’s comfortable and paid for. It’s a lot easier to overlook the costs. I hit the ignition and think yeah… worth every penny.
If you’re passed in California by something the looks like a small blackhole doing warp 9, don’t bother to wave or flip me off.
I won’t notice and I don’t care. I’m focused on getting past the obstructions (like you) to my destination without an incident.
Don’t try to follow, don’t get in the way, don’t try to challenge me with your flatulent 4 cylinder rustbucket. I probably won’t notice you because…
My conversion to BMW “Jerk” is complete.