Who do you think you are?

By | April 22nd, 2012

I-10 bridge in Mobile, Ala., taken yesterday.
Spend a little time driving America’s Interstate highways, and you’ll get to know all the characters that make their homes on the road.

I just made the nine-hour trip from Orlando to Biloxi, Miss., yesterday — the first leg of my family’s month-long road trip out West — and I got reacquainted with all of them.

They kind of reminded me of you, the good people who read this site every day.

Here’s who I met. Which group do you belong to?

By-the-bookers. You’ll find these drivers in the slow lane, putt-putting along at the speed limit or below (“55 saves lives!”). Sometimes, when they edge into the left lane to pass a turnip truck, they create chaos, because they don’t let the needle go past 65.

On this site, by-the-bookers know every rule, law and statute, and can cite them from memory. But they’re often criticized for failing to understand the spirit of the law. I love them because their knowledge often helps other consumers — and me — understand our rights (and sometimes, our lack of rights) more clearly.

The speed demon. You don’t see these motorists until their brights are blinding you in your rear view mirror. The message is as clear as their high beams: outta my way!

Sure, speed demons can be aggressive and obnoxious commenters. They drop in, lob an incendiary or insensitive remark, and then scurry back to Flyertalk. But these folks have passion, and they frequently make a valid point. This place wouldn’t be the same without them.


Flow-goers. A majority of the motorists you run into (um, maybe that’s a poor choice of words — let’s say encounter) are neither too fast nor too slow. They just like to keep up with traffic. They’re content to slide between two vehicles moving at 85 and stay there until their exit.

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I think that describes most readers of this site, too.

They lurk and they comment only when they have something to say. When they can help, they don’t hesitate to speak up but are otherwise content to let others do the talking. This site wouldn’t exist without them.

The wackos. You know them. They’re the ones who are pulled over on the side of the road, surrounded by four highway patrol vehicles. And the officers all have their weapons drawn. Or their abandoned car is wrapped around a tree.

They either don’t care about the rules of the road or they’re unaware of them. They weave in and out of traffic, trying to pass other cars. If there’s no opening, they veer into the shoulder to create their own lane.

Seriously, these people probably shouldn’t have been driving in the first place.

But even the loons have a place here. Hecklers are sometimes the only ones who dare make statements that need to be heard. I’m often criticized for tolerating these malcontents on the site (especially the ones that go after me) but I think these readers make the debate interesting. I almost never have to ban them; they usually leave on their own when they overstay their welcome.

Which one am I?

I probably identify the most with the folks who go with the flow out on the highway, but I have a soft spot for the speed demons. I ought to know; on our last road trip, I was pulled over for speeding.

Wait, does that make me a wacko? Eh, I’ve been called worse.

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P.S. — This morning we’re back on the road, driving from Biloxi, Miss., to Rockport, Tex. Ten hours … if we go with the flow.



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