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RSVPhillippi | August 2018

 
Dennis Phillippi

I'm A Four-Wheeler

If you read this column with any regularity at all, you know that I’m not the type to crow when I’m proven right. Wait, that’s not true, I am exactly the type to crow when I’m proven right, and once again I’ve been proven right. Whenever anyone says that Memphis has the worst drivers in the country, I always tell them that our drivers are perfectly mediocre and not especially terrible at all. Now, according to a big study done by an Important Insurance Survey, the worst drivers in the country have been determined to be the residents of Omaha, Nebraska. That’s right, not Memphis, Omaha. In fact, the study ranked the top 75 most populous cities in the United States and we ranked 44th in the nation. Two spots below, or above, depending on how you look at it, were our friendly neighbors to the east, Nashville.  We’re not even the worst drivers in Tennessee. There are worse drivers all over North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Missouri. We’re a shining beacon of safe driving for our entire region of the country. Surprisingly, the best drivers, according to this survey, are in Orlando, Florida, which I’m guessing is predominantly people from all over the country driving rental cars and old people driving 11 miles an hour. The reason why it was a surprise to me that Orlando is supposed to have so many safe drivers is that I have often said that the worst drivers in the country all live in the state of Florida, but that’s probably because I often say that the worst of everything in this country is in, or from, the state of Florida.

  We are facing new driving challenges lately because we’ve been invaded by those little electric scooters. When they first started appearing I overheard at least five people saying that we shouldn’t have them here because of “Memphis’ terrible drivers”, which we’ve established isn’t actually the case. I’d say we shouldn’t have them here because people are stupid and stupid people do stupid things, particularly when they’re on two wheels. I’ve heard people say that they are the perfect solution for getting around after you’ve had a few drinks. Please reference the sentence above for my opinion on that one. The bike trading deal was bad enough for me. More bikes on the road means me having to be tolerant of more bikes on the road.  Anything that calls for me to be more tolerant of anything gets on my nerves. But I accepted the bike thing because everyone thought I was being a jerk about it. Okay, I didn’t really accept the bike thing so much as start cursing them silently. Now, the scooters I’m a little more vocal about because I have yet to see anyone wearing a single piece of safety gear of any kind riding one. What I have seen is a lot of people riding them who clearly have been drinking. Either that or they’ve already suffered some kind of head trauma. I’m assuming that the popularity of these two-wheeled irritants will dry up once winter gets here, but unfortunately, that won’t be for another five months.  That’s a long time for someone like me to put up with something with which I don’t wish to put. The worst part, by far, is they really look like fun and at some point I’m sure one of you will spot this hypocrite grinning like all the other idiots while riding one. Without a helmet. To a bar.  

I was thinking that one of the reasons these things shouldn’t be here is because we have such terrible roads. There has been a pothole the size of a kiddie pool in front of a friend of mine’s house for over two years. Evel Knievel couldn’t get across that pit on one of those scooters. So, I looked at a bunch of different studies and surveys about cities with the worst roads and we didn’t crack the top 25 in any of them. Now we can’t even complain about how bad our roads are. Nothing makes me complain more than having fewer things to complain about.

The truth is, and I know this is blasphemy for a Southern Man to say, I have never really liked driving. For one thing, I’m incredibly neurotic. When I’m driving, all I see is the car in the next lane deciding they’d be happier in my lane, or the cars going the other way opting to experiment with driving on the other side of the street.  While I speed every time I’m behind the wheel, I can’t stand other people feeling like they need to go faster than me. Add in bicycles and their stubborn insistence that they have just much of a right to the road as I do, and glassy-eyed dodos on little scooters that I’m certain are about to throw themselves under my car at any second, and I’m a wreck without having to actually be in one. I’d own that these are all on me if it weren’t for the fact that people are stupid. Despite being uncomfortable behind the wheel, I drive all the time when it’s my wife and me in the car because I’m an even worse passenger.  As a passenger I have no control whatsoever. It took years for my wife to make clear to me that all of the subtle signals I would try to send regarding her driving such as making involuntary alarmed sounds, reaching for the handle over my shoulder, and stomping on an imaginary brake, rather than being helpful, were actually a huge annoyance that had often led her to consider truly reckless driving to give me some perspective. And believe it or not, she’s the only one I’m at all comfortable with driving. My other friends just won’t give me a ride any more.