QOTD: Carrying Neurotic Baggage in That Trunk?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd carrying neurotic baggage in that trunk

It’s normal to worry about — or at least give a passing though to — the possibility that the airliner you’re about to step onto may, in fact, never reach its destination. The same goes for thinking, hoping, or praying that a road trip you’re about to embark on goes well, with no cataclysmic incidents along the way. It only becomes a problem if these concerns dominate the mind, leading to paralyzing fears and a determined avoidance of certain activities that negatively impacts your life. At that point it’s time to see a psychologist.

We’ve talked in the past about our worst driving fears, the most obvious being the accidental running over of a human being. Understandable! But sometimes, despite our fearlessness behind the wheel, we bake into our daily lives strange little habits, performing these rituals unconsciously until a friend or family member calls us out on our neurosis.

It can be literally anything. For example, your author, even when driving around with a full tank, sometimes wishes the needle was at three-quarters or a half in order to save a measly buck after spotting a station with a lower pump price. A thought appears — if I could burn off some of that pesky fuel, all of those those sweet, sweet savings could be mine! (There wouldn’t be any.)

Perhaps that’s a bad example. The other day, a colleague mentioned how he witnessed an Uber driver in an automatic transmission car bump the vehicle into neutral at each stoplight, setting the parking brake at the same time. The general consensus was that the driver was used to driving a stick shift in traffic, possibly in a foreign country. Still, who does that? At the very most, bump the shift lever into neutral and just keep your foot on the brake (I’m guilty of this sometimes).


Oh, but our various manias run deep. Here’s one that’s a little more to the point. I don’t like drive-thrus, and I don’t use them. No, not because of the land-use stuff (read Jalopnik for a screed against that), but because sitting in a drive-thru lane, once that F-150 has cosied up to your rear bumper, leaves you vulnerable.

To a robbery or some sort of attack, you ask? Nope, though that could be a concern to some folks. No, it leaves you, assuming you’re in a normal car with limited ground clearance, vulnerable to Armageddon. When the big one comes, whatever it is (aliens?), you need to move — and fast. The soccer mom or hipster dad in the crossover in front of you will probably freeze in fear and confusion, and backing up isn’t in the cards if you’re sandwiched in a line of vehicles. Nor will you get very far after tearing off your oil pan in a failed attempt to mount that extra-tall curb bordering the lane.

Great. Now you don’t stand a chance of making a break for the hills to live a solitary life of regretful murder and despair, subsisting on a diet mainly of rainwater, dead squirrels, and grubs.

That’s why I don’t like using the drive-thru. I park my car like an upstanding individual and march proudly into the store, waiting patiently in an excruciatingly slow line caused by the fact that impatient drive-thru patrons get first dibs. The fact that I’m saving a microscopic sliver of the environment by doing so is merely a bonus.

So, B&B, what’s your weird car habit, if you want to call it that? What’s something you do, feel, or believe that goes against prevailing wisdom and common sense?

[Image: © 2017 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars]

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  • Snakebit Snakebit on Aug 19, 2019

    My dad was one of those who put the transmission into neutral at stoplights. My foible - I stop far enough behind cars at lights that I can see their rear wheels. That way, if they're not paying attention or their car dies and won't restart, I can drive around them without having to back up first to clear their car.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Aug 20, 2019

    I worked with a guy years ago that was stopped in a traffic jam and was hit by a semi who failed to brake. He told me when he looked up he was under the truck, luckily he did not have a scratch on him. It shook him up so much that he replaced his totaled Camaro with an older Cadillac CoupeDeville. After that incident he was always nervous in stopped traffic.

  • MaintenanceCosts Despite my hostile comments above I really can't wait to see a video of one of these at the strip. A production car running mid-eights is just bats. I just hope that at least one owner lets it happen, rather than offloading the car from the trailer straight into a helium-filled bag that goes into a dark secured warehouse until Barrett-Jackson 2056.
  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.