Man vs Machine: Driving

Long drives and the radio starts putting words in my mouth. My jaw pops open and I verbalize my desire to be saved. I salivate at the thought of salvation. I need to properly praise my lord and savior. God occupies the stretch between cities. Faith lives between like-minded ears. It’s easy to be like-minded. Out here, I wear a helmet to reduce the impact.

I scan the I-5 North looking for that new burger with the onion rings and the lettuce that’s so crisp you can hear it crunch through the airwaves.

A teenager croons over the loss of innocence with a Nashville packaged twang and I believe every word. I look out to see if anyone else is hearing this. No cars, but I’m passing a prison. Someone in there is hearing this and they know exactly what she means. She wishes things could go back to the way they were. She’s convincing. She’s endearing. She’s probably fourteen. Somewhere there’s a proud mother rolling in cash. On the road of life, there are passengers and there are pimps.

In between signs, I track my progress by the color of the hills. Flat land isn’t ideal. Not for the type of driving I do. It’s easy to drift. I’ll open a book or pay utility bills. I’ll pull out my phone and catch up current tragedies. I’ll drift over the line and bump along for a minute or two feeling like Pacman. I accrue a tremendous amount of points while playing against myself—my worthiest opponent out here. I rarely lose.

Semi-trucks rule these roads. They get caught in the slow moving current of the road and keep pace like ambling ice caps. Only there is no end for these drivers. Just stages. As soon as they complete a leg, kick their feet up and grab a beer–the phone vibrates. Another baton is passed and they must keep going.

It’s important not to break your stride. I’m limited to a single tank of gas. If I run out of gas in Salinas; Salinas it is. I won’t go on. The same goes for Barstow, Truckee, Ghila Bend or Castro Valley. The car says when. I’m merely a passenger. Well, I’m actually the driver, but I play second fiddle. I steer when I have to, but there are limits. We all have breaking points. Mine are rather fragile. Flat tire, rain, traffic, and gasoline shortages have all stopped me before. It doesn’t take much.

It’s for the best. If you ever see me out there, you’ll understand why. I’m doing everything, but driving. Like I said, I leave that to the car. I just steer. But even that is a tedious task.

The Google Driverless Car hasn’t crashed yet[1]. I have. More than once. The Google Driverless Car doesn’t get sleepy. It doesn’t text. It doesn’t get drunk. It doesn’t get bored. It doesn’t run red lights when it’s late or roll through stop signs when no one else is around. Rather prudish, I think, I’m not sure we’d hit it off.

The radio just told me that. Now do you see what I mean about the radio putting words in my mouth?

Of course, I haven’t seen this Driverless Car for myself. Usually, I keep eyes peeled for the aesthetically pleasing; be it plein air or portrait. There’s a lot to look at. As for the road, it could use a facelift. Somebody look into that.

Man 0  Machine  1


[1] There was that crash in Mountain View, but humans were to blame. If Google doesn’t count it, I won’t either.

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Filed under De La Moda, Formal Correspondence

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