the girl in the automobile
i rode a city bus the other day for an hour. then, i took the metrorail. i think i’ve ridden a miami bus once, maybe twice in my life. the metrorail and people mover existed only for school field trips or getting to outdoor music festivals. their striking similarity to the disney monorail of my youth made it seem like an unrealistic choice for daily transportation. it was a ride! and miami’s a driving town.
i owned a car and started driving before i had a license. i had a permit and my sister’s hand me down jeep wrangler soft top with fat tires and a kick ass sound system. i loved that car. my parents told me i could drive without a license, but if i got pulled over and they took my license away, “te jodiste.” i made the best choice an adolescent could make… since then, i spent most of my time driving around with friends trying to figure out where to go or getting high in one park or another park or a parking lot or a parking garage or at the airport watching planes land or at the beach. i’m not sure what my youth would have looked like without a car. maybe i would have picked up a constructive hobby, or been less fat and angry. either way, it took a long time to get my brain out of the car culture. i don’t think it was until i got a gym membership that i left the car world behind.
miami taught me how to drive. and i drove like an effing maniac. our driving motto is “get there as fast as you fucking can.” the main principle is the recognition that the social contract is really just a suggestion. coño, no somos comunistas. and you should work it to your advantage whenever you can. if you’re in the middle lane, or even the very, far, far left lane, and you need to enter one of the gazillion strip malls to the right, make the turn. someone will honk; everyone will live. if you notice the car next to you is speeding up to get in front of you, speed up too. who do they think they are? castro? the emergency lane can double as a high speed passing lane. don’t worry though, any of the other lanes can also double as emergency lanes. blindspots are for suckers, whether you’re in them or looking at them. never signal, it just lets people anticipate your move and block it. emergency vehicles will part traffic before you like noah, get behind them as soon as they pass. and don’t let that jackass behind you do it first. remain as close as you can to the car in front of you. there’s no real reason for this, we just have no regard for personal space. the latter is not true at stop lights where you want to leave some room to drive away in case of a carjacking. avoid eye contact and you might avoid a bullet.
i will always love driving here. it’s like a crazy arcade game. it taught me how to be a hypervigilant yet relaxed driver. i have accepted the social contract but i recognize you might not have. i could cut you like a fish, but likely i’ll just let you in.