sweet low hanging schadenfreude

October 10, 2008

Schadenfreude is a beautiful thing. I mean, Joy is good, right, pretty much all the time. I realize Beethoven had his choir singing about just plain Freude, but we can’t all aspire to that level of purity. I usually settle for schadenfreude.

Lately I’ve been enjoying a particular flavor of highway schadenfreude–it goes like this:

You’re driving along in the left lane, traffic is a bit on the heavy side, and there’s a line of cars about 5-10 long in front of you behind one car going too slow for the left lane. Eventually that car will move over, or the line of cars will get around it somehow.

But the yahoo behind you, who’s been riding YOUR bumper for the last three miles, as if YOU’RE the one holding up the line, somehow snaps and loses patience with this game, and when the middle lane gets an opening, he zooms to the right, and up past HALF the line of left lane cars.

Which is where the schadenfreude comes in. Of COURSE he can only get a little advantage, and the left lane is STILL going faster than the middle lane–that’s why we’re IN the left lane in the first place. But now that Mr. Fast Guy has committed to the middle lane, he can’t just change his mind and come back to the left lane–that would be to admit he pulled a boner by zooming around in the middle lane.

So he either suffers the middle lane slowness, pretending he likes it there, as everybody he zoomed by re-passes him back, or he darts over to the RIGHT lane, which almost invariably results in a double whammy of slowness after his supernova speed burst. And I get a little endorphin rush.

I mean, seriously Mr. Fast Guy, do you think all ten of us are goofing along in the left lane because we’re some kind of AARP parade, oblivious to our lane choice, a conspiracy to make YOU slow down?

Now that you mention it, I DO take pleasure, even joy, in your misfortune. But you brought it on yourself. Next time, just get in the HOV lane. What, that’s somehow MORE illegal than darting back and forth between lanes, accelerating to 90mph until you hit the inevitable slow down and back off to 60mph? Which do YOU think attracts more attention from the long arm of the law?

Although, that would bring me another pretty good dose of schadenfreude.

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13 Responses to “sweet low hanging schadenfreude”

  1. steve Says:

    I hate being the first to comment but here goes. AMEN! I have never heard this term before so your link helped me learn something today. The only thing that spoils the joy in learning he is trapped is when someone lets him/her BACK into the left lane. I have to admit to a certain level of “Fruede” traveling along in the HOV lane on my bike when the traffic inevitably and inexplicably slows down for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!! and I get to keep going at whatever speed we in the HOV have chosen.

  2. steve Says:

    It sounds like you decided to forgo/forego, pick one, the joy of the motorcycle this fine brisk morning. I was kind of regretting my choice when I felt the searing pain in my fingers from cold but then the bliss of numbness overcame that until they thawed out at work. Then back to searing. Hope the ride home is a bit warmer.

  3. bikemike Says:

    isn’t it an amazing rush when someone (hopefully in a very fast car) does this and now you know there is no way you’re going to be the one to let him back in. you end up doing the same thing he was doing to you BUT everyone in front of you knows what’s going on and tighten up the formation to block senior numb-nuts out.
    the icing on the cake would be if he finally got past and got up the road and proceeds to get pulled over for speeding. sweet-mother-of-justice.
    i’ve only seen this play out fully once but it was awesome.

  4. KanyonKris Says:

    Schadenfreude is one of the joys of getting older, er more mature (usually those two are synonymous).

    In my youth I was more impatient. I believed everyone moseying along was lazy or lacked passion. I came to realize that a lot of things in life can’t be rushed, or more accurately aren’t worth rushing, and the moseyers will get there about the same time as the rusher. Now in my (slightly) enlightened state I’m smugly amused by the young or “learning challenged” that haven’t figured it out yet.

    And I’m like bikemike, I take a little joy in being the karmic tool of payback – you change lanes, you deal with it. I’m a fan of mercy, but justice needs us too.

  5. Rick S. Says:

    THAT guy is almost as annoying as brake light guy. You know, the guy who, for no reason, decides to tap his brakes while going 80MPH which causes a huge chain reaction of people slamming on their brakes.

  6. Sam Says:

    I opt for the HOV lane and also speed up to about 100 mph so I can get out of the lane as fast as possible to avoid the ticket.

    Haven’t been caught yet. I mean, what are the odds?

    the problem with having the HOV lane to the left is the people in the fast lane think they are in the middle lane so they drive like slow turds.

    Sometimes people really do need to get somewhere so let’s all go a little faster. You save more gas by getting there faster and then shutting your care off while everyone else is still driving theirs. Really. Parked cars always getting better milage. I promise.

  7. KanyonKris Says:

    {Spock} – Sam, you employ a most illogical logic.

  8. Keith Says:

    Sam: There’s also a safety issue — higher speeds minimize exposure to dangerous highways. If 100 MPH is safe, then 200 MPH should be twice as safe.

  9. Eric Says:

    Proper lane usage during rush hour doesn’t apply anymore. Get in a lane and stay there until 10 feet from your exit and then cut over. I missed the memo when it was discontinued but I think it must have been awhile back. Really, if you even remember when proper lane usage was practiced, you are old. I gotta go, the brat next door is on my lawn again. Commie parents haven’t taught him anything.

  10. Sam Says:

    200 mph? Impossible.

    My car will barely do 140 mph. But I think you might be right in your logic. It does make sense.

    I’m going to bump it up to top speed.

  11. mark Says:

    Dug, I used to think your comments about drivers in Utah were exaggerated. Having been gone nine years but in the last few weeks spent a lot more time on Utah roads, including during rush hour, I can attest that things have gotten worst. Or I have gotten older, which, in a relative way, is the same thing.

  12. BotchedExperiment Says:

    Schadenfreude is DELICIOUS with sauerkraut.

  13. Rich Says:

    Great blog, very humorous! I found it upon a recommendation from another fan. I must admit that I have been guilty of such an indiscretion, call it a momentary lapse of reason,maybe I really really had to pee and needed to get to a bathroom, regardless….I am deeply apologetic for my transgressions.
    Conversly, I have also been the one thinking the same thoughts as yourself when I have witnessed this phenominon.


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