Is Your Automobile Making You Drive Like a Douche?

truck

Spring is finally here which means that the never-ending yard projects are starting up again. One thing I want to accomplish is to relocate a couple of boxes I built for our raised garden from their current spot by the fence to a sunnier location. Each box has a 7×4 foot trellis screen for privacy so I wanted to disconnect them and attach each one to the fence posts instead of the box. That would allow me to move the boxes but keep the screens in place for privacy. To do that, I need to get 4 pieces of 2x4x10 from Lowe’s.

One day I was talking with my neighbor and mentioned that I was trying to figure out the best way to transport 4 pieces of  10 foot lumber in my MINI Cooper. He laughed and offered me to borrow his Dodge RAM 1500. Actually, it was not even his – it was a loaner because his 2014 truck was at the dealer with an oil leak issue that required extensive repairs. (Update: There is a 2014 Toyota Tundra in my neighbor’s driveway – he traded in the lemon RAM… ‘MURICA!)

It was really nice of him to offer and after several “are you sure?”s I was driving what can only be described as a monster truck (after over a year now in my Cooper) to the store. My only first-hand experience with trucks comes from owning a lifted Jeep Wrangler which absolutely paled in comparison. We are talking about a 2014 Dodge Ram 1500 4×4 Crew Cab with a 5.7-Liter V8 HEMI engine with 395 horsepower, 410 lb-ft torque capable of towing over 10,000 lbs. It has and eight-speed transmission and a tricked out air suspension that allows you to select desired ride height. The interior is light years ahead of what I remember from my Jeep days and rivals BMW’s from my past.

It was a fun ride to the store and back. While I was extremely careful, as one should with a borrowed truck that costs close to $50,000, I did catch myself doing things that I normally don’t do while driving my own car. Upon my return, I reflected back and jotted down a few unusual behaviors:

  • Tailgating a stupid Prius that was going 3 miles under the speed limit in the left lane. He had no choice but to move over upon seeing the angry chromed out RAM 1500 grill filling up the rear-view mirror.

  • Accelerating on yellow instead of braking. That engine had major balls.

  • Driving on a curb to get to the left turning lane that had a separate green arrow that lights up a few seconds before the light controlling the lane I was stuck in. My lane was backed up with cars waiting for the green light to go straight while the left turning lane was empty and only a few feet ahead. Jumping a curb saved me having to wait through one additional light cycle. And I didn’t even have to raise the air suspension.

  • Mashing the gas pedal from a stoplight to give the poor fellow to the right in his little tin can no chance of getting in front of me on a road that merged from two lanes to one a quarter-mile ahead. Hearing the exhaust bark was worth it alone!

  • Driving faster in general. With all that power speed seemed oh so effortless.

So yeh, all that on a 10 mile round trip drive to Lowe’s…

You’ll have to take my word for it but I don’t usually do any of this when driving my MINI Cooper.

  • Tailgating seems silly because (besides being pointless), who in their right mind will move over upon seeing one of the most un-intimidating faces in car design history? Look at that cute grill behind me!

  • I tend to brake when I see a yellow since I have my doubts about the effectiveness of the gas pedal in getting me through an intersection in time before the light turns red.

  • Trying to hop a curb would certainly break some expensive suspension component in the MINI or at least scratch – or worse – rip off the front bumper.

  • Two lanes merge into one a quarter-mile ahead and there’s someone next to me at a stoplight? Feel free to cut in front as I accelerate like a zen master. Zero to 60 time of 9 seconds puts a lid on racing aspirations.

  • I mostly drive the speed limit which is 65-70 mph around here. The MINI can certainly go faster but it WILL make sure you’re aware of just how hard it’s working. MINImal soundproofing and a puny 1.6-liter engine mean lots of cabin noise and limited performance by design. It just feels at home in the right lane going the speed limit.

I started thinking about my previous cars and remembered doing similar things then as I did just now in the RAM 1500. I’m certain that my driving style back then was more aggressive than it is now. BMW’s are famous for their performance and handling so they beg you to push the envelope. I’ll even admit that driving the BMW 330i equipped with a Performance Package gave me a feeling of superiority over all other vehicles on the road. There’s no question it could outperform the majority… and somehow that knowledge put a chip on my shoulder. Get outta my way!

If you’re holding a hammer everything looks like a nail.  If you’re driving a tuned BMW every car looks like a competitor.

So are there cars that inherently make you behave like an asshole behind the wheel? On my daily commute I encounter plenty of aggressive drivers doing things I mentioned. According to my non-scientific calculations most of them tend to be in expensive cars or huge SUV’s or pickup trucks. I don’t see too many Corolla’s and Elantra’s driving aggressively.

Of course I’m not talking about slammed Civics with Folgers coffee-can exhausts revving up next to you at a stoplight – that’s a whole other type of douchebaggery. I’m talking about regular people commuting to work, going shopping, dropping their kids at school… Gigantic SUV, phone to the ear, driving 3 feet behind a car that’s already going 10 miles over the speed limit. Get outta my way!

Is it a case of asshole drivers being attracted to certain vehicles? Or is it possible that certain vehicles can unleash an asshole driver lurking within?

The way I see it there are 3 types of drivers:

  1. NDD or Non-Douchebag Driver. Give them a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S and they’ll drive it as if it were a Camry.

  1. PDD or Potential Douchebag Driver. Their Douche Quotient behind the wheel goes up as their vehicle’s performance/size/cost increases.

  1. ADD or Always Douchebag Driver. These will drive like a douche regardless of vehicle’s performance/size/cost.

I wish I could say I am an NDD like my wife, but my past and most recent experience puts me squarely into the PDD category. Well, it could always be worse – I could be one of them ADD types.

Good news is that when diagnosed properly, PDD can be treated without any side effects. In my case a MINI Cooper seems to be working just fine to keep the symptoms at bay… Just keep me away from the turbo-charged Cooper S!

Do you or anyone you know suffer from PDD or ADD? 🙂

 

4 thoughts on “Is Your Automobile Making You Drive Like a Douche?

  1. Brilliant timing reading this article, got off the train and walked up the road towards work and first heard, then saw, a souped up pick up truck hammering it down the road in a massive bunch of traffic, then having to break hard about 4 seconds later. What is the point in doing that kind of manoeuvre?!

    It’s funny you think the 1.6 litre engine is puny, that is a massive engine for a mini (not sure if the mini’s over there are bigger than in the UK?) and 9 seconds 0-60 would beat well over half the cars on the road over here, so you could still have your red light races if you wanted with that sort of ‘performance’.

    I’ve found that since driving a diesel motor I’ve chilled out a bit on the driving front, plus finally putting two and two together and realising that a calmer driving style gets you more M to the G. It probably helps that I only drive about twice a week as well, and not in the daily commute!

  2. I love the perspective from across the pond! It’s a nice reminder how over the top everything is here. I guess I feel that MINI’s 1.6 liter is puny compared to my previous cars – a couple of 3 liter bimmers and a 4 liter Jeep. And don’t forget the borrowed 5.7 liter RAM 1500 🙂 But you’re right of course, it’s more than enough for such a small car. I personally think a diesel Cooper that you have over there would be perfect, but they haven’t brought it to the States yet. Oh and I’m 99.9% sure that MINIs here are the same size as in Europe.

    • 5.7 litres is insane.
      You’ve definitely had your fair share of high performance motors, I do like cars as much as the next man but as soon as I realised how much they cost I realised I would never be the owner of one of those myself. The 1.9 diesel is going nicely for us right now 🙂

      • I’m jealous of all the efficient diesels you got over there. But yeh, I’m done with performance cars. My last one had staggered wheels/tires which looked nice but cost about $1,200 for a new set of rubber. I can get 4 tires for the MINI for under $400. Similar savings on all other maintenance too so it adds up quick!

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