Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chinese Fire Drill

I see this every now and then in the parking lot just before I go up the stairs to the train platform. A car pulls into the drop-off area, which is actually not a drop-off area, it’s a crosswalk, which is kind of the opposite of a drop off area, but whatever, and the passenger and driver each get out. The driver leaves to catch the train and the passenger gets behind the wheel and drives off. I give you, The Chinese Fire Drill (I apologize if this phrase has crossed over into political incorrectness, like Oriental Rugs or Hillbilly Weddings). The Chinese Fire Drill exists, I assume, because there are certain men in the world who do certain manly things better than their wives. They hold the remote better, they grill meat better, they play golf better, they snore better, they bury there emotions better, they make onion dip and pancakes better, they hail cabs better, they put Ikea furniture together better, they add extra holes to their belt loops better. If its manly, they do it better. And driving a car is surely one of the manly arts, and therefore these men, these masters of the manly arts, do it better.

So even though these men are the men that will be getting dropped off at the train every morning to begin their manly day, they are also the men that must, by the laws of all things manly, also drive that same car that will be dropping them off. And you can’t drop yourself off, now can you. Obviously, you need a wingman, a partner. Someone who you trust enough to drive the car after you’ve finished driving it, but not enough to drive it while you’re in it. Honey, can you come here a minute....

So the wife rides along, admiring your driving skills I assume, while no doubt listening to the AM sports talk radio station of your choice (Yet another of the manly arts. Choosing things). You arrive at the drop off area, which is actually a crosswalk, you exit the vehicle, meet your wife somewhere near the back bumper, kiss her goodbye, and then she gets back into the drivers seat and assumes control of the vehicle. This ballet of transference adds another 30 seconds (35 seconds if the kiss is PG-13) to the amount of time the car is blocking the drop off area, which (have I said this?) is actually the crosswalk. And it is this minor intrusion into the rest of humanity’s commute that piques my interest, because now, your manly man bullshit is blocking my crosswalk for 30 seconds. Now you are no longer a manly man. You are a D-bag.

And now that you have my attention, Mr. D-bag, I have to ask the question, just how bad a driver is this woman? More to the point, just how good are you? I mean, is all this really necessary?

Evidence would suggest that its ok for your wife to drive alone, and I assume she possesses sufficient skills to drive the children all day, every day. She’s probably able to balance the checkbook, cook dinner, buy the kids clothes, play tennis, get the dishwasher fixed, frontline the dog, run a small business, send gifts, make travel plans, bare children, know who the teachers are, replace screen windows, operate a table saw, vote, drink, fight in a war (if called upon). But lets be honest. Who are we kidding. When you are a manly man, why leave the driving to anyone but the best? I mean really. If she can’t be trusted with the remote, can you really trust her to drive the most important person on the face of the effing planet to the train station? Not likely.

But here’s the thing. Have you ever heard of the butterfly effect? A butterfly flaps its wings in Kansas and Bill O’Reilly is never born, or something like that? Deviate from the path for just an instant and it can change the future? Tomorrow, when you’re about to get into the car to go the train, stop for a second. Deviate from the path and let the missus drive. Just try it. See how it goes. Let her pick the route, make the light, or not make the light, choose a radio station, lead the conversation. Give up control for a minute. Or 10 minutes. See what happens. At the very least, you’ll only be in my crosswalk for 5 seconds, which I can live with. And you never know, your wife just might surprise you. She might even amaze you.

Or she might be the worst effing driver in history.


  1. Boys are funny. Some are funny ha-ha and some are funny "Can't live with 'em, can't stuff 'em in a box and mail 'em to Tuktoyuktuk."
    -Katy from