The horseless carriage was once seen as a devil. Men who wore long side-whiskers sat in the low taverns and smoky back rooms and proclaimed it a menace which hastened Gomorrah and corrupted the geranium-scented virtue of their mothers. They were right: it is a devil, but not for the reasons they cited. It’s a devil because, in its current and remarkably unsophisticated form, driving one squanders tremendous amounts of our precious little time on Earth.*
My commute takes 11 minutes each morning. It is very early, and I am not in my most socially responsible frame of mind. Psychologically speaking, I’m still pretty much the same pure id that was just having dreams about watching my childhood town burn down while standing naked next to a curiously distant Willem Dafoe. It would be a great time of day, in other words, to begin a novel, or at least a really interesting letter to a friend.
Here’s how that 11-minute period actually breaks down, in terms of noteworthy achievements:
- 6:07AM – Back into own trash cans. Promise to live a better life through paying attention.
- 6:08AM – See jogger. Part proud of them, part mad at them.
- 6:09AM – See cyclist. How on earth did they decide to do what they’re doing at this moment?! If God has a plan for us all, this part could use a round of notes.
- 6:10AM – Check phone for anything interesting. Chasten self for checking phone while driving. Commit to teaching self how to use “Siri.”
- 6:10:23AM – Check phone for any information about Willem Dafoe’s face.
- 6:18AM – Arrive at work, having accidentally sent menacing picture of Willem Dafoe to my ex-wife (no subject line) instead of saving it as my phone’s background image.
There you go. Nothing that will be memorialized in the film of my life, and pretty unsafe to boot. I think we can agree that you and I don’t want me on the road—and I’m sober and insured, with a spotless driving record.
That morning commute equals 220 sub-optimal minutes per month. In a driverless car, I could be safely taking in another of today’s highly-regarded television programs every week, or saving money by learning to debone dinner animals at home via YouTube. I’ve only watched Game of Thrones as far as the “Darth Rackey” (Sp? Look this up on morning commute) marriage episode — the one that looks like they hired Mad Max as their wedding planner — and I still create a lot of waste when breaking down rabbit.
My evening commute down the same lanes is, on average, 25 minutes. That’s 6000 minutes a year, or 100 hours. I know this sounds far-fetched, but in that nearly half-hour time, I could be taking Business Italian (“I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe he’ll call you. How should I know.”) or a fancy leadership seminar. I could smoke a pipe, or call my daughter, or smoke a pipe and call my daughter and utterly cement my image as a classic man—I won’t be around forever.
As we enter the dawn of the age of the driverless car, which whisks us about like eggs in a happy little carton, we will come to forget all the advertising that paints driving as an ultimate and unalienable American freedom. We’ll see driving more as shackling, limiting, clumsy—a laughably unsafe and primitive solution. That’s what happens with old technology.
* Moreover, it relies on the piloting skills of the same creatures who brought you the term “human error.”
Source: Old Pop Art Site