Taxi is one of my three favorite sitcoms. One of the story arcs was when the Latka character (played by the late Andy Kaufman) developed multiple personality disorder. (Yes, that was very funny.)
In one episode Latka becomes Alex (portrayed by Judd Hirsch), the most experienced cabbie of the group and the de facto lead character of the show. As Latka/Alex reports to his shift one day he asks Louie (played by Danny DeVito), the abusive dispatcher, “Hey, Louie. What do you think of the human race? I’d like an outsider’s opinion.” Louie is not bothered by the comment at all and says to the real Alex, “Funnier than you.”
I am an outsider. I was raised by immigrant parents in a house where we spoke almost as much Yiddish as English. I was always the curve-buster in my classes. For much of my youth, reading the encyclopedia was fun for me.
I became a sports fan almost out of self-defense because I had no idea what my neighborhood playmates meant when they said “double play” or “touchdown.” When I somehow began a career in major league baseball, I was an outsider, talking about data instead of “gut feel” and “tools” when evaluating players.
Being an outsider was helpful to me for much my life. However, it is not any more. Not being a part of any “favored” group was a major obstacle in my unsuccessful effort to establish an interesting and fulfilling career post-baseball.
I look at my utter disdain of both major political parties in this country and see the outsider again. Although in some opinion polls many people profess to be independent, in reality it seems to me as though most of voting age are, in fact, a captive of one of the two parties. While I don’t believe in government as panacea, I disagree with most of the policy stances taken by both parties. By definition, my perspective leaves me in the minority and gives me no reason to be engaged, in my opinion.
I also refuse to acquiesce to the pressure to conform, whether in politics, TV preferences (or lack thereof), or automobiles. Although it is likely that Shakespeare had a slightly different meaning in mind when, in Hamlet, he wrote, “This above all: to thine own self be true,” I interpret that as be who you are, even if it means you’re an outsider. For example, I am not going to feign interest in pickup trucks just because they have become very popular in the collector market for automobiles.
I have never seen any Star Wars movie, or any episode of the Simpsons or Game of Thrones and I don’t care. I can’t live my life based on the views of people who are nowhere near as vested in my life as I am. When I am in the coffin or in the urn I’ll be the only one in there. I am an innate outsider and that is who I will always be.
From the entry for May 21 in This Day In Automotive History by Brian Corey:
“On this day in 1901 Connecticut became the first state in the US to pass a speed limit law strictly for motor carriages, officially separating animal-drawn and powered vehicles in the law…Speed limits in the United States had been in effect as early as 1652 for animal-drawn wagons.”
I think speed limits are disobeyed more than any other law in the country. I consider myself to be a law-abiding citizen, but I usually drive a few miles per hour over the limit (think 55 MPH in a 50 MPH zone) as long as traffic allows. In comparison to my fellow Arizona drivers, I am the little old lady who only drives her car to church on Sunday. It is common for me to see people driving at 70+ MPH in a 50 MPH zone or 40 MPH in a 25 MPH zone.
If I mention that excessive speed has been involved in about one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities for the past two decades, you might nod your head, but then think, “I’m a good driver and I can handle driving 65-70 MPH in a 50 MPH zone.” Actually, you can’t. Physics and physiology are stern taskmasters.
Yes, I drive high-performance cars (see below). In Sport Mode, the Mustang is most decidedly not happy at 25 MPH. Still, so far I have resisted the temptation to drive way above the speed limit. My Z06 could probably have reached 200 MPH, but most of the time I never drove it above 55. I guess in this realm as in most others, I am an outsider.
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11 thoughts on “An Outsider’s Opinion”
Speed is relative. Speed limits are sometimes unsafe, either too slow or too fast based upon the current conditions. The best speed to drive is whatever speed the traffic around you is moving at. Not faster than nor slower than the rest of the vehicles. Then make sure you drive on the active offense, not on the passive defense. Never let another driver put you in an unsafe position. Take the actions needed to keep yourself safe. Protect yourself and those around you. I rode motorcycles for too many years without an accident to not stay safe, using these rules.
Being the outsider is being the person who thinks for himself, using his wisdom and experience to judge what is best based on what is right and wrong. And NO, right and wrong is not relative.
Thanks, Philip. I agree with you to a point. If everyone is driving 20-25 MPH over the speed limit, then the roads are unsafe and I will not try to keep up with traffic.
I have always tended to drive fast and received many “Fast Driver Awards” over the years. I used to get a letter each year from the DMV showing the status of the points against my license. Rarely were they for what my state considers “excessive” speed, more than 25 mph over the posted limit, but in the 10-15 over range. Over the last 10-12 years I have either slowed up or been luckier as I have only had 3 citations. Ironically one was in my “short bus” minivan 2 years ago in a “speed trap” (went from 65 to 45 in a short distance and I missed the sign). I haven’t gotten one in any of my fast cars in over 20 years. Pulled over yes but usually for loud exhaust or because I “looked like you were going fast”.
When I’m on the Interstate, I tend to keep up with traffic. At least to a point. If the flow is running at 70 I will also. If it’s running 80, probably not (this is in the metro areas). On the open road most have a 70 limit and are usually running around 80 so I’ll run somewhere in the middle.
As always, YMMV.
Thanks, DDM. In my nearly fifty years as a licensed driver, I have received two speeding tickets. With absolute honesty I can tell you one of them was unjustified as the police officer did not pull over the vehicle that was actually speeding, the one that passed me on US Route 29 in Howard County, Maryland.
Once again, physics and physiology are stern taskmasters. Related to the latter, aging is a stern taskmaster. Believe it or not, our reflexes begin to decline after the age of 25. Maybe that’s one reason why our “adult” ability to assess risk and reward usually kicks in at about the same age.
This is an interesting blog. Keep going and enjoy. Have a great day.
Thanks for the kind words and for joining the conversation.
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You’re welcome. You can visit my blog too if you have extra time. I hope you will like and follow it.
You embrace being an outsider, staying true to yourself, and not conforming to societal expectations. Your independence of thought, refusal to conform, and authenticity are commendable. Your observations about speed limits and responsible driving are thought-provoking, highlighting the potential dangers of excessive speed. In a world that values trends and conformity, your ability to remain true to yourself is inspiring. Embrace your individuality and continue being a refreshing voice.
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I enjoy watching a YouTube video featuring Officer Frank, a deputy from Pinal County. He is videoed stopping transgressors on county highways. It is really interesting to hear the excuses for being caught driving too fast or whatever else they have done. I think he has a new video every Friday.