Also, here in NW AR, the high schools do not teach or require driver’s education. It’s one of those things, like sex education, that we figure is None of the State’s Business. So none of our teenagers, many of whom drive big shiny trucks and SUVs, have ever been taught the rules of physics as they pertain to vehicles. I do my best in my ENGL 1213 and my college seminar classes each semester, but college freshmen don’t make great audiences. (Whenever someone, as someone invariably does, presents a speech on bad drivers, I always, during the Q&A period, put in, “And what about tailgating?”
The student making the speech, who has invariably not mentioned tailgating, since here in NW Arkansas no one sees anything wrong with tailgating, says, “Uh, well, I guess, uh, what about it?”
“People shouldn’t do it, right?” I say. “Because it’s fearfully dangerous, right? Not to mention rude, right?”
This invariably astonishes the class. And causes an uproar. They all have to explain to me about how they have to tailgate, because people drive too slowly, and how can they make people drive faster if they don’t tailgate? Huh? How?
This passes for perfect logic, no kidding, it does, among the drivers in NW Arkansas.
I explain to them that the laws of physics do not care if you are justified in tailgating. I tell them about the student in my class whose brother was killed because he was riding with someone who was tailgating. I talk about what happens if the guy in front of the car you are tailgating slams on his brake. I say do you get this? Can you hear what I am saying? Is your life worth getting to the exit a minute sooner?
They say, but you don’t understand. People drive too slow!
2. People who won’t think about the consequences of their actions. Our vaunted president is a prime example, but you know, just look around. You can’t walk through the day and not trip over fifty. What the hell are these people doing using Hummers to drive their kids six blocks to school? What the hell are these people doing driving Hummers at all? Why don’t we have light rail systems in more cities? Why are we dumping pollution into the ecosystem? Where do we think that's going to go? Why are we putting more and more of the burden of the cost of a university education onto the student? Anybody can figure out what’s going to happen if we keep doing that – anyone can! This idiot Mumper who wants to pass a bill to restrict what kinds of things professors on university campuses can talk about in their classrooms – can’t he just look at that and know it won’t work? I can look at it and know it won’t; why can’t he? He can’t be that stupid – stupid people don’t get to be senators in Ohio. (Do they?) People who don’t want to teach teenagers about sex – can’t they just look at that and know it’s going to end badly? Bush and the SS plan – even if he could get it to pass, can’t he see what a disaster it would be? Did he never read a history book? Does he not know what this country was like for old people before SS? I mean, what the hell?
3. Littering. People should cut it out. The world is not their trashbag, damn it. This probably ought to go under #3, but it’s really especially annoying. Next time you’re stopped at an exit, have a look around you. The cigarette butts are piled three inches deep out there. Who do these people think is going to pick up after them? Santa?
4. Students Who Can’t Make Up Their Minds About Their Names: I’m talking first names here. Last names, that’s a whole nother issue, and it annoys me too – that’s only women, here in NW Arkansas, though, who keep getting married, and divorced, and then get back with the guy, or some new guy, and so go through five or six last names in as many semesters, and that’s annoying, too, I admit, but at least that’s only a few women out of the herd. No. I’m talking about a new trend among undergrads. Not only have their parents named them something whackaloon, like Amazina, or Filo, but then they themselves cannot decide on what name they want to be called by. On their papers they will write Amy Roven one day, and the next day they are Alie Roven, and the next day they are Zanie Roven, and I am supposed to keep track of who they are how, exactly? Especially with a third of their classmates doing the same? And I do get why they are doing it: I too was nineteen at one point, though it has receded, thank God, into the distant past – but I am considering having a stamp made up, to stamp upon all their papers: here’s a clue: changing your name will not change you. Reading your Plato assignment, OTOH, (which I can tell by your quiz grade you have not done), just might have.
5. People who criticize other people for the names those people have chosen for their children. Here's the deal: when you have a kid, you can name that kid. All right? Everyone else gets to name her own child. (And no, you may not make any inferences from this about the name of my kid. She has a perfectly acceptable name.) (Okay, all right, her name sounds like a law firm. What's it to you?)
6. People who have no idea what a problem is like giving other people advice on that problem. I’m thinking of Dr. Laura advising poor women on their child-care issues here specifically, but also this week’s episode of House brought it to mind – in case you missed it, House’s colleagues decide he’s using too many Vicodin and try to make him give them up, which just pissed me off so much. I get these migraines, vicious hateful migraines that put me into bed for three days straight and make me vomit and I’m telling you straight off the pain is incredible. I need my pain meds. But the neurologist I have now won’t give them too me. Why? He thinks I don’t need them. He thinks I’m too drug-dependent. He thinks we should manage my pain without narcotics. If my health insurance would let me switch to another neurologist, believe me, I would. As it is, I have considered (a) getting another job [no, really, I have, because if I got a different job I'd have different health insurance and therefore ipso facto a new neurologist] (b) importing drugs from Mexico (c) buying drugs, ah, from other sources (d) jacking the bastard up and beating the stuffing out of him. I’m actually bigger than him and I think I could take him.
None of which I’ve done. Instead I’ve made many trips to the ER where they do give me pain meds, but where I have to wait from four to seven hours to get them. My neurologist, need I mention, does not, himself, suffer from migraines.
6. People who say we have the best health-care system in the world, and that there is nothing wrong with our health-care system, and isn’t our health care system great? Yeah. You bet. Did I mention how much I’m paying to go see this neurologist who thinks we should manage my pain without narcotics? Best health care system in the world my ass it is.
That's all I can think of for now. But I bet I can come up with more later.