"Meatsacking and Solyzynitsyn"
by Eric Peters
"Thank the motor gods, automated car technology is nowhere near ready – because the people are. Ready to sit and gape and text and wait. Anything except drive. They will welcome the opportunity not to do so. To a startling degree, they already have. Here’s a story which is merely one of many. You probably have several such of your own:
I was driving home – well, trying to drive home – on a stretch of Blue Ridge Parkway that is being resurfaced. Since most people apparently can no longer negotiate a work zone on their own, cannot manage driving on the travel lane not being worked on – despite abundant visual evidence, such as cones and men working on the other travel lane – it has become necessary to shuttle the backed-up cars through the work area under the guidance of a Pilot Car. No more waving cars through the zone on the expectation that a driver can – ought to be able to – deal with such a thing without guidance.
So, the cars stack up and wait – twice. First, they bunch up at the entrance to the work zone, where a human drone stands there holding a Stop! sign. That is his job, all day long. Be grateful it is not your job. Things could be worse. Anyhow, the cars bunch up. They wait. Not to go – but for the Pilot Car (which is actually a truck) to return from herding the cars bunched up waiting at the other end of the work zone through the work zone.
Be grateful this isn’t your job, too. Imagine creeping back and forth and back and forth, blinkers on for saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety, of course – all day long, herding presumptive morons and certain meatsacks through a work zone, something the sixteen-year-olds of earlier generations (before the Safety Cult took hold) were expected to be able to do and if they couldn’t were expected not to drive anymore.
Well, we wait. Stupidly, mindlessly wait – while the Pilot Truck does its thing, which includes wasting a lot of gas, by the way – and just think about all the carbon dioxide being emitted. The Earf cries for mercy, like that Indian in the famous ‘70s TeeVee commercial.
Eventually, the Pilot Truck comes, turns around – slowly – and positions itself at last at the head of the conga line. We are finally ready to proceed. Except some are not. For some, it is too much to even follow a Pilot Truck with flashers on gimping along at less than 25 MPH.
The car I was behind on this day.
It was too challenging, apparently, to keep up with the Pilot Truck. It receded into the distance – the driver apparently not noticing he was losing his tail. Shortly, he disappeared completely. I found myself behind this full-flowered Clover whose BMW sport sedan must have had holes in the floorpans, because it was moving about as fast as you’d expect if being pushed by his feet, Fred Flintstone style.
This, by the way, has become a general truism of recent BMW drivers – who often aren’t. Drivers, I mean. BMW has become one of the leading edge purveyors of driver Dunseling – a term Star Trek fans will recognize which refers to a computer which made Captain Kirk a chair warmer. BMW’s new cars are among the worst at checking and pre-empting the driver, deciding for him what he ought to do – for saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety, of course.
This seems to attract a new type of driver – aka, meatsack. One who prefers machines which drive themselves as much as technically possible. Anyhow, the BMW ahead was holding everyone up even more than the Pilot Truck idiocy. The pilot Truck was already in the next county. So I did a thing which almost no one does anymore.
I passed the BMW.
This stunned everyone. The person in the BMW, of course – and also the other 15 or 16 cars stacked up behind the BMW. Not one of which followed my example. Despite all of them clearly annoyed and expressing their annoyance via tailgating the car ahead. You could feel them fuming, almost – but not one of them made a move. As Spock would say, fascinating!
It – and similar social experimenting – reveals the degree to which most people are browbeaten rule-obeyers incapable of exercising any initiative behind the wheel. Who wait resignedly to be told what to do and where to go. If Authority does not do so, then they are baffled. Since no one told them to pass the BMW and passing was probably illegal, too – notwithstanding that doing so was both reasonable and safe – they wouldn’t. Not couldn’t.
This paralysis of initiative is the defining attribute of the modern American driver. Even more so than his learned incapacity. He is beaten. Submissive to the extent that it no longer oppresses him because he no longer realizes he is oppressed. He has been habituated to it. He even venerates it.
In support of that assertion, note the outrage which often follows when a non-meatsack (a few still exist) seizes the initiative and passes our man in the BMW, or anything like that. There is an angry flashing of the high beams, accompanied by equally furious laying on of the horn. Clover is angered, at last! One senses that – if they could get their hands on the offender – they would see him burned at the stake.
It is the same mentality – the same duality – which existed in the Middle Ages and in Soviet Russia and other such places, which the U.S. increasingly resembles. Cringing submission before Authority, terrified to do anything which might offend the Authority... yin-yanged by savage adulation when a heretic is caught and punished by Authority for affronting it.
But not this time. The non-driven-machine BMW receded rapidly in the rearview, along with its tail of 15 or 16 cars, all of them no doubt fuming at the spectacle of the lone heretic escaping and disappearing, Red Barchetta style. These are the same people, by the way, who will not only willingly but eagerly assist when things get much worse than idiot-proofed work zone and Pilot Trucks.
Remember your Solzynitsyn.”