Thursday, December 29, 2011

Didactic Driving

Today I shifted from the right lane into the fast lane in front of a vehicle that was far exceeding the speed limit.  The driver blasted his horn, no doubt in gratitude for my didactic driving technique, as Speedy Gonzales presumably recognized the errors of his ways and again, albeit forcefully, observed safety on the road.  The word “didactic” derives from the Greek verb, didaskein, which means to teach.  A didaktikos in ancient Greece was a teacher or tutor.  Didactic driving, then, involves the effort through one’s own driving to instruct or remind other drivers of the rules of the road when they are in violation.  It can also simply signal to the driver that he or she has forgotten basic courtesies.  Often this instructive gesture entails a metaphoric “nudge” or “slap on the wrist.”  Only the untrained eye would mistake didactic driving for, say, aggressive driving, or some other manifestation of road rage.

Didactic driving can take many forms, in addition to the one I used today.  Let’s say, for example, that your behind a vehicle in the middle of an intersection.  You both want to turn left but you must of course wait until there’s no oncoming traffic; there is no green arrow at this particular intersection.  However, dickless in front of you has been hesitant to turn left for seemingly the last half hour, even though the next oncoming car is about five football stadiums away.  So you offer a friendly, didactic honk of your horn for a good 15 seconds.  Didactic driving also comes into play when you’re again making a left turn and you suspect that the oncoming car has increased his or her speed either to make the light or simply to deter you from making a turn before (s)he clears the intersection.  What you do in this instance is indeed make the left turn but you decelerate just a bit as you make the turn, thereby forcing the oncoming driver likewise to slow down and, ideally, rethink his or her strategy, if not acknowledge the rudeness and selfishness of such driving behavior.

As an educator, I suppose didactic driving comes natural to me.  I enjoy the challenge of informing drivers who seem to be taking their sweet-ass time to get from Point A to Point B when Der Viator is late for his massage appointment that they should be mindful of the situation or get off the road altogether.   Feel free to employ didactic driving when the need arises.  You’ll be serving your fellow man.  And don’t forget, folks, if you see a silver Ford Escort with a bespectacled bald man at the wheel in your rearview mirror, stay out of the friggin’ way.