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.