I think I’ve finally come to a startling conclusion – something I never thought I’d say since I was first issued my first driver’s license: I really dislike driving. I love the freedom of being able to go where I wish without worrying about someone else’s schedule, but the actual act of operating a vehicle is really wearing on me lately.
My job has me logging an average of 200 to 250 miles per day. I know for professional drivers, 200 a day is just a drop in the bucket. The difference is that I’m not paid to be a professional driver, though I harbor a tremendous respect for those who are. I admire the unsung long-haul drivers of America not only because they are the mistreated and unappreciated backbone of the economy, but because I have no idea how they are able to operate their vehicles safely for such long periods of time, under such strenuous conditions.
My biggest shortcoming is that driving by myself gets really boring really quickly. No amount of custom-burned music CDs, audiobooks, radio programs, or mental gymnastics stand against the relentlessness of endless stretches of asphalt for very long. I do enjoy the time I get to spend thinking about things (something I also enjoyed when I worked in a factory), but I find myself drifting in and out of flow, which is actually a very dangerous state of mind for a driver.
So after a while, I start amusing yourself with the finer details. Like the license plates that read things like “404 HTM” and “133 BPM,” which technically aren’t vanity plates, but carry meaning to some, nonetheless. I start to count the animal corpses, viewing their steady decay in a day-by-day time lapse. I start to notice that after a while, those 5 dead skunks on Highway 94 smell almost like a cup of fresh dark roast coffee straight out of the grinder (or maybe that’s just a personal coping mechanism of mine).
Unfortunately, another thing I notice is all the trash lining every highway. As I’ve said before on this blog, you’re never gonna catch me sailing with Greenpeace, but I respect this beautiful planet that God gave us, and do the best I can to take care of it without going to extremes like trying to recycle my fingernails. The trash itself, however, is not what I find so remarkable. It’s the composition of it.
It has been said countless times that the human brain is a relentless pattern recognition device. I imagine this functionality is amplified when boredom sets in. I don’t know if I’m the only one that catches this, but my brain recognizes over and over again that most of the fast food trash is generally from one source: McDonald’s. I’ve even formulated a few theories as to why this might be.
Theory One: Sheer Volume
This theory hinges on the possibility that McDonald’s serves more take-out customers per day than any other restaurant. Due to the sheer volume of food that goes out the window each day versus other restaurants, the McDonald’s litter is a testament to their sales. This theory assumes that McDonald’s customers tend to litter just as much as other restaurant customers. This leads us to Theory Two.
Theory Two: Littering Patrons
This theory hinges on the possibility that a higher percentage of McDonald’s customers versus customers of other restaurants tend to throw their garbage onto the highway rather than a proper receptacle. I won’t go into particulars on this theory, because it can lead to to stereotyping, prejudice, and unfair assumptions. Kinda like how people think of truck drivers. Let’s just say that this is likely another case where a few bad apples spoil the bunch.
Theory Three: Conspicuousness
McDonald’s packaging is quite distinct from most other chains. It is quite possible that the only reason I’m noticing more McDonald’s litter is because the litter itself is more noticeable. Maybe I’m only seeing what I want to see so that I have a reason to post some more inane drivel on here so you guys won’t yell at me anymore to write something.
Who knows, maybe it’s all three theories combined, or maybe I’m just making a big deal out of nothing. I’m just curious if anyone else notices similarly irrelevant patterns in their daily lives. They tell me it’s a good thing to notice small stuff such as this. Maybe they’re right, or maybe they’re just agreeing with me out of fear. They never know what this crazy guy is gonna do next.
I will close with one more pet peeve of mine relating to all this. More of a PSA.
Your truck bed is not a trash receptacle.
It’s funny how people never make the connection of how they can throw all kinds of garbage in the back of their truck, yet they rarely have to clean it out. It’s like it empties itself! I wonder where it all goes? It’s still littering, whether they mean for it to blow out or not. Seriously, what did they think was going to happen once they got up to 60MPH?
[18-Jun-2009 Edit: I followed a SUV into New Concord today that sums up the first part of this post nicely: “641 FML.” Almost poetic.]