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Friday, November 4, 2011

Don't F**k With a Bus and Other Rules for Successful Living

In high school one of my best friends, Maude, taught me two rules for driving that I've never forgotten. The first is self-explanatory, or it should be. It's the second that interests me today.

1. Don't f**k with a bus.
2. Look where you want to go, and you will automatically steer the car there.

Maude, as a few of my tens of readers know, was (is) delicate, small-boned, had the neatest cursive for a lefty and possibly ever, and a mouth like a sailor.

Maude's father taught her to drive, and she passed this one on to me. (#1 was entirely her own, I hasten to add.) Which was good, because my father taught me to drive, too. This meant we went over to the Walt Whitman High School parking lot and I drove around in circles while my dad white-knuckled both the door armrest and the back of the seat. After completing a few circuits, he congratulated me, and I, who was unused to praise of any kind, forthwith drove into the chainlink fence.

After that, I went to driving school. 

Look where you want to go, and you will automatically steer the car there.

Miraculously, this works. 

If you concentrate on the nose of your car, you can't see anything else. If you focus on the road right in front of the nose of your car, you become over-aware of the micro-adjustments you need to make to steer, which can scare you with the unpleasant realization that you're operating a potential weapon of destruction and you can't possibly imagine you can make it do what you want. You might freeze. Or drive into a fence.

However, if you look ahead, towards the curve you're approaching, not too far, but not too close, your hands know how to get the wheel in the right position. Your brain takes over and your hands respond. All those things you need kick in, like depth perception, and the sense of the road, and the instinct for when to apply the brake and when to let up, and you just flow. 

Hey, this is the United States of America, where car and road metaphors have a long and prominent precedent.  

And this is my homily for today.


  1. Ah... look where you want to go, what a great metaphor for life!

    Well, don't F*ck with a Bus is pretty darn good too.

    Thanks Hope! (And Maude).

  2. Look where you want to go—that's what we teach our ballroom dance students, too. They're always studying their feet for some reason ; )

    Applies in life, definitely. Keep your eye on the goal. When you're always downcast you'll miss the turnoff.