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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