Andrew Clark is an award-winning journalist and screenwriter living in Toronto. His last book, ‘A Keen Soldier: The Execution of Second World War Private Harold Pringle’, was nominated for the Pearson Writers’ Trust Non-fiction Prize, Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize and the Governor General’s Award for Literary Non-fiction. He is a professor at Humber College and director of its Comedy Writing and Performance Program, has received two National Magazine Award nominations in the “Humour” category. He has been nominated three times before and won the Gold once. Clark has written for the New York Times, Cosmopolitan, The Globe and Mail and was a senior writer for Maclean’s magazine. He is currently at work on a novel. He has a dramatic series in development with the CBC.
This article appeared in the Globe and Mail on March 14th, 2013 and is reproduced with kind permission from its author.
Dear middle-lane moron,
Each year at this time I write a column about how much I hate you. Well, not you precisely; I hate the way you drive slowly in the middle lane of a three-lane highway or slowly in the left-hand passing lane of a two-lane highway.
It’s a terrible habit that endangers your fellow motorists and causes untold traffic mayhem. I mean, how can you drive 70 km/h in the passing lane? Did you know that a 2004 British survey found that middle-lane hogs waste up to a third of highway capacity during peak hours? How can you do that?
You know, scratch what I wrote earlier, it’s you I hate.
Okay, sorry, I apologize. I promised myself not to get aggressive this year. True, in the past I’ve called for the use of cruise missiles to obliterate middle-lane hogs. I’ve called for “traffic laxatives” and “electro-convulsive therapy” to stop middle-lane slugs. This was excessive and it didn’t make a dent in your behaviour. My ire achieved nothing.
That’s why this March (I always pick a date closest to the Ides of March) I am reaching out to you on a human level in the hope that non-judgmental discourse will succeed where unbridled animosity and venom have failed.
Middle-lane moron: When I drive up behind you and have to slam on my brakes to avoid rear-ending you I feel like you don’t see me as a person. When I have to pass you on the right-hand lane (a manoeuvre I normally avoid) and I drive by and see you opening a sandwich on your steering wheel, paying no attention to the road, I feel like you don’t value me as a person.
Your driving at a maddeningly slow rate of speed in the passing lane affects me in these ways:
- It makes me want to fire a cruise missile at your vehicle.
- It makes me want to go back in time to prevent your birth.
- It makes me wish I could fly, so I could soar above the traffic, and not have to deal with congestion and rush hour and also fly above you and drop a bomb on your car.
- It makes me want to go back in time so I can study physics at a prestigious university so I can invent a way to shove the phone you are texting on into one of your orifices in such a way that you can never get it out.
It may be that you simply aren’t aware that driving at a snail’s pace in the passing lane is extremely dangerous.
All the other drivers who are going the speed limit (or a little over it) have to pass you. The more people have to execute passes, the more dangerous driving becomes, because each time you pass, there is a risk of an accident occurring.
So you need to stop this. If you want to drive slowly, why not drive in the right-hand lane, that’s where it is perfectly acceptable to be the way you are. It’s like a “smoking lane,” but instead of it being okay to smoke, there it’s okay to be an utter pinhead who doesn’t know how to drive.
In previous columns, I reminded you that Section 147 of the Highway Traffic Act states that on a highway with more than two lanes running in the same direction the slow traffic is to occupy the right lane. Just try to keep this in mind. Powerful people don’t want you to plug up the passing lane.
You know, maybe it’s me.
As many of my readers have pointed out, I’m not a nice or charitable person. I have my flaws. When it comes to criminally negligent behaviour executed on a daily basis that disrupts the already broken flow of traffic and jeopardizes the safety of countless motorists, I’m quick to anger. Maybe you’re right and I’m wrong.
Maybe the highway was actually made for you.
Maybe you’re the only one that matters. If you want to crawl along in the passing lane, like an anxiety-ridden turtle paralyzed by fear, or a narcissistic distracted driver overloading on his tweets, then it’s your right to do so.
Maybe it is your world and we’re all just living in it. You’re Sinatra and we’re all Joey Bishop.
But, on the slight chance that this is not the case, could you do us all this one small favour?
If you want to drive slowly, could you just pull into the right-hand lane? It would be a way to show me that you respect me as a human being and that you are not one of the dumbest people ever to climb behind the wheel of an automobile.
Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy