The word entitlement has been getting a really bad rap as of late. I guess it was never a great word, but in recent years it is often voiced by those that have, complaining about those who they see as taking from what they have. It used to be the talk of entitlement was about welfare recipients. Now it has been stretched to be negatively aligned with many other groups including those who collect (or plan to collect) Social Security, government pensions and even retired military personnel.
I hate the fact that people who don't like these kinds of things lump them all together. Many of the people that get these benefits are entitled to them because they paid for them in sweat, work over many years and yes, sometimes blood.
But there is another way that the word entitlement can be used, too. That is by those who think they own the road.
Last week I was in Salt Lake and having grown up there I still tend to think of it as a fairly quaint little city (compared to many others). But after living here for over 22 years it seems my propensity to put up with traffic has diminished. After all living in a county where there are only a handful of traffic lights (and most of those are in downtown Price) it is easy to forget what a bunch of lights and crossings can do to travel time.
Worst though are the drivers that think they are entitled.
We often hear people say that Utah has the worst drivers of all. Well based on everything I have read nationally, Utah isn't even recognized that way in the slightest. Almost unanimously most people agree that the worst drivers live in the Washington D.C. Area. Of course anything like that is hard to prove so the arguments go on and on. Just like in a big domed building in that same town..
But what isn't discussed as much is what kind of vehicles the worst drivers drive. Now naturally bad drivers take the wheels of all kinds of cars. But there have been studies that show that luxury car drivers tend to be the poorest, with BMW drivers getting the worst wrap most of the time.
A near second to BMW drivers are those that say Prius drivers are bad too.
BMW drivers it is said do almost anything they want because they think they are driving the best car in the world and would spend the money on purchasing it even if it wasn't the best car. It is said they have the entitlement syndrome because they have the best and are the smartest, so they should be able to break the rules.
The explanation for the Prius drivers being dissed is that they drive as they watch their energy gage and that they go slower, even in fast lanes, to keep their gasoline engine from kicking in. They want to run clean. I think part of it is that Prius cars are about the ugliest car on the road. People notice them and even taunt them. I have a friend who says he likes pulling up alongside Prii (Priuses?) with his old Ford F-350 that gets about seven miles to the gallon and just watch what he terms "the greenie in the car turn green from my exhaust."
I have my own feeling about bad drivers and what they drive. I used to think the worst drivers on the road drove minivans. I mean it is kind of understandable if you think about it. Minivans are usually filled with screaming kids and the driver has to avoid being hit by spit balls and half eaten Twizzlers as he or she tries to maneuver down the road. I also have seen guys in minivans who look uncomfortable try to race other cars. I think they are feeling kind of down that they have to drive a minivan while the guy next door owns a Corvette. Sure some minivans have big engines with lots of horsepower, but they also weigh up to three tons even without the eight kids inside.
But I have changed my mind since last week. I now believe the worst drivers are girl/women drivers, between 18-23 years old that drive dark colored Honda Civics. These are always cute little females who are doing their hair or makeup (because they certainly can't arrive mussed at their destination) and constantly talk on their cell phones all the time while they are driving. In a period of six hours on the road last Monday, three of them cut me off. It was like they were triplets, copies of each other all driving the same kinds of cars, doing something besides driving and thinking they were beyond reproach for it.
So entitlement goes beyond thinking you are owed money. It can reveal itself in thinking like "I am rich so I can do what I want" or "I am cute and if this one gets wrecked daddy will buy me a new one."
What I always try to do when I am driving down the road is picture myself as if I do not have steel, glass and plastic surrounding me, but that I am in a line walking with other people. That way I relate to the people, and not to their vehicles. What many people do in their cars on the road, they would never do in a crowd unprotected by their $50,000 vehicle.
We all make driving mistakes. I don't know how many times I have pulled out in front of someone because I misjudged their speed or just didn't see them. I have cut people off accidentally. I have forgotten to signal a left turn or followed someone too close sometimes. Everyone has done these things.And often we get the one fingered wave for it.
But when you see someone in a group of cars on the freeway and you can observe them for miles and miles and they do that kind of thing several times, there is more to it than making a mistake.
It is entitlement, pure and simple.