The Tailgates of Hell

Dear Sir or Madam,

To begin, let me point out that I address you as ‘Sir or Madam’ merely because from the vantage point of my rear-view mirror, I can only see one of your vehicle’s headlights and a portion of its grill. I do not use both salutations because I consider your appearance to be androgynous, and I certainly am not being imprecise because I openly question your sexuality. Neither of those perceptions on your part would be helpful in focusing your attention on the two actual points of this missive, which — in the interest of time — I now elucidate.

You may not be aware of it, but you are driving far too close to my car’s rear bumper relative to the rate of speed at which we are traveling. This action — known to those of us who have taken a driver’s examination as tailgating — is endangering not only my life, but the lives of all of those around me. I find your action to be reckless; unwarranted; and (quite candidly) perplexing; as I do not know what you hope to obtain from it. There are somewhere in the neighborhood of five thousand cars ahead of us on this highway, and an equal number in the lane to our left that are all moving at the same speed as you and I. From my vantage point (which I re-iterate is uncomfortably close to your own at the moment), you have absolutely nothing to gain from your wanton endangerment.

Perhaps you feel that you have a greater entitlement to the road than the rest of us and you want us to know of your contempt by creating a sense of menace to those who stand in your way. Or maybe you lack the personal discipline to drive as you know you should. Possibly, you do not care how you treat others as long as you get what you want, which, at this moment, appears to be a coordinated effort on the part of ten thousand drivers to merge all vehicles except yours into a single lane of traffic so you may pass without hindrance.

Of course, at this point, I no longer care why. While others might have chosen to respond to your maddening lack of respect for your fellow beings with a rude gesture or a harsh slamming of brakes, I have picked a different course of action. I have submitted a petition on your behalf for admittance to a special circle of Hell reserved exclusively for chronic, stupid, tailgaters. If my petition is accepted, you will, upon shuffling off your mortal coil, spend one hour of each day being force fed asphalt and ground up tires; one hour of each day drinking gasoline; one hour shitting flaming tar on the hood of your vehicle, and the remaining twenty-one hours washing it off with your tongue.

I realize that wishing such an awful thing upon someone — even under the stressful circumstances you are so thoughtlessly creating with your hazardous conduct — is harsh. Therefore, in the event that you are simply having a bad day I offer the following ‘get out of Hell free’ card:

If you can spend one calendar month’s time consciously attempting to observe a proper following distance while driving at speeds over 55 kph (it doesn’t matter if you have the distance in meters just right; I’m only suggesting honest and thoughtful effort in the matter), my curse is lifted.

Personally, I would prefer that you succeed in removing the curse as, after a month of actually trying to be courteous and respectful while driving, you will no doubt find it satisfying to make the roads we share safer and less stress-filled for yourself and others. You might even notice that your responsible driving is actually increasing the speed at which we all arrive at our destinations and influencing others to drive more safely, as well.

But, in the event you are unwilling to try such a trivial thing for such an insignificant period of time to contribute to the betterment of us all, well… to Hell with you.

Warmest regards,

NOTE: This post originally ran on on November 27, 2007. When “fell over” it was believed to have been lost forever, but a recent expedition into the darkest recesses of the area just behind the basement toilet uncovered another copy, which I now share with you.

Come the revolution.

A couple of days ago was hacked with such a degree of thoroughness that I was left with no choice but to change all my passwords, strip the site bare, and start over. Because of the severity of the attack, I decided to call my hosting provider and let them know. Their response was to attempt to sell me their “watchdog” service (which would only *triple* my monthly hosting fee). I hung up, shaking my head at their apparent lack of concern, and set upon the task of rebuilding. I’ve wanted to switch from WordPress to WordPress MU on this account anyway, and this seemed like a chance to make lemonade out of lemons, even if I wasn’t 100% confident that my lemonade stand wouldn’t be kicked over the next day by the exact same bullies.

During that time of digital catharsis, however, I ran into a problem with one of the tools the provider offers (it seemed to be hung), so I called customer service again. At this point, I decided that if there is another revolution in America, it won’t be over bankers, gun control, or religious fundamentalism. It will be over dealing with customer service.

The conversation started innocently enough:

“Thank you for calling our company, my name is Paul, how may I help you today?”

“I’m having a problem I can’t fix myself, and I need your help.”

“Certainly, I just need to verify some information about you before we start.”

“Ok. [Gives information].”

“Now what’s the problem?”

“[Explains problem].”

“Ok. Here’s a suggestion about how to fix a completely unrelated problem.”

“[Explains problem again.]”

“I see, well, I’d like to help you, but I notice that on a completely unrelated note, you don’t have a required field in your profile filled out to my liking. I cannot help you further until this tangential issue is satisfied.”

“[Explains problem again and offers possible solution.]”

“I’m sorry, I can’t help you until my desire for irrelevant changes to your account profile is satisfied.”

Imagine the time I would have saved if I had just gotten out my Customerserveless to English dictionary at the start of the call.

“Your call is yet another nail on the blackboard of my life, but it’s costing me fifty bucks a night to visit my girlfriend at the strip club, so I guess we’re stuck with each other for as long as I want to hang on to the fantasy that I’m going to get laid someday, my name is none of your damned business, what is it going to take to get you to shut up?”

“I’m having a problem I can’t fix myself, and I need your help.”

“I understand. I’m going to look for a loophole that either allows me to hang up on you, gives me a chance escalate your call to someone I hate worse than my current life at this desk, or emasculates your sense of self worth in an attempt to drive you to the point of giving up this pointless conversation.”

Now, I’m freshly tinged with the sting of having either an ill-mannered teenager or a calculating pharmaceutical link slave fire off an emotionless script designed to rape my web-site, so perhaps my translation from Customerserveless to English is tainted with emotional residue, and my idea of revolution is actually a bit of over-reaction. After all, there is no shortage of customers who are rude, deceiving, manipulative, and downright unpleasant to deal with, and they may be the reason that the Customerserveless language was invented in the first place.

But consider the problems being outlined in this article from the New York Times, and tell me that there aren’t thousands of others out there who have far more justification in calling for an overthrow than I.

The only downside I can see is that after the revolution, we’ll have to establish a customer service department to deal with the complaints.