UTNE #4 Jan-Feb "Mean People Suck" 1999 Beth Cramer

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UTNE READER #4 - May 17, 1999 Mean People Suck If you can read this, you're too close By Gail Mount

Gail Mount expresses the feelings that may cross one's mind while driving. She suggests in her article that getting behind the wheel of a car can change a person's outlook on life. She states, "Kill, kill, kill! Becomes the order of the day."

The author describes a variety of drivers one might experience on the road. The old couple, who swerves in and out of lanes, yet somehow manages to go untouched. The lady applying her face for the day, steering the car with her knees, whose eyes are never on the road, is among Mount's descriptions. She vividly describes the overconfident kid who loves to flip the bird at any one who mistakenly looks his/her way.

Mount offers some wise advice. If a person is into flipping the bird, she suggests subtly pushing one's glasses up the nose with the middle digit. "Return a smile with a finger. For real kicks, a finger with a smile." If a person is stuck in a mile-long traffic jam, be careful about laying on the horn- it may be hazardous to one's health. If one finds oneself stuck in traffic and someone knocks on the car window, Mount suggests learning how to make wild-eyed maniacal faces or develop a crazy laugh.

The author ends "Mean People Suck" with a few tricks of the trade. Stop at a green light looking lost. Wait until the light turns red and slowly ease out into traffic leaving the angry line of drivers behind for another red light. "Be a one-car blockade." Mount suggests if nothing else works, "close your eyes, drive like crazy, and blame the other guy.

Every UTNE so far has offered an article on poetry that has grabbed my attention. I wanted to finish this last UTNE with a commentary on the poetry I was sure to find. While this article may not be in the style of Frost or Keats, it does express a poetic impression in an ironic way. Poetry comes in all styles and you find unique poetic ideas in everyday places. A one-mile long traffic jam offers many opportunities for creative poetry.

I can not think of traffic jams without commenting on my immediate family and relatives. The illustration (p.35 UTNE Jan-Feb 1999) that goes along with the article brings the words of the group "Bread" to mind. The song "If" - if a picture paints a 1000 words. Well this illustration not only compliments the article befittingly, but it also shows a familiar likeness to my brother Bob, in 1000 words or more. My brother Bob, alias blob, illustrates multi-personalities while driving. It comforts me when Gail Mount states, "It's fine to love your enemies, but getting behind the wheel changes that." This statement suggests that my brother might not need psychological help, simply because many people develop the same short- lived personality change when slipping into the pilot's seat. Bob does not take kindly to people cutting him off in traffic. In response, he proceeds to speed up, cut that person off with an inch to spare, while giving the evil eye. Heaven forbid that person flips him the bird. He will go out of his way to tail that person to the next red light, exit his car, knock on the "flipper's" window and threaten havoc. If I were that person in the other car, I would begin to practice the drooling mad laugh in hope that the madman, my brother, would leave soon. When my brother steps out of the cock-pit, his former self, loving father of three, returns, and we all breath more easily.

If amusement park rides are disappointing because they do not frighten you or make you scream, try driving with Uncle Ken and Aunt Betty. My aunt and uncle are wonderful people, but once again that changes when Uncle Ken slips behind the wheel of a car. They live in the Chicago area and spend a lot of time attending museums and symphonies in the heart of the city. As a child and on through my teenage years, I spent many weekends going into the city with Aunt Betty and Uncle Ken, to attend these cultural experiences. My Uncle Ken loves to talk eye to eye. He would start up a conversation, I would respond and Aunt Betty would scream "Kenneth" as he swerved in and out of lanes. I don't know what was more frightening, the look on the faces of the drivers and passengers of the other vehicles or the pitch of Aunt Betty's voice. Amazingly, throughout my youth, Uncle Ken continued to cut off buses and cab drivers and somehow managed to get us in and out of Chicago without a scratch!

I have a unique understanding and acceptance of rude drivers. I do believe that these maniacal drivers are probably better, kinder humans, once they step away from the steering wheel. I can only speak from my near-death experiences as a reluctant passenger from the netherworld.

-- Anonymous, May 18, 1999

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