One-Shot Week, Part 3: Misanthrope’s Rules of the Road
Now, here’s a truly prehistoric entry in the exotroopers franchise. Back around 2003, after creating Zaratustra just to kill him off ignominiously, I was already thinking about ways to give him some further adventures. This led to his inclusion with some new friends in Walking Dead. But my first idea was for something even more ambitious: I would write a book of social commentary and satire, as Zaratustra would write it. (In hindsight, the premise came pretty close to The Screwtape Letters.) My working title was The Misanthropic Principles. Even way back then, once I had the premise in mind, all I had left to do was turn Zaratustra loose. Unfortunately (or else, not improbably, fortunately indeed), when I showed the material to others, responses have been more mixed than usual where Zaratustra is concerned. I tried putting some excerpts out there, and they mostly seemed either offend people or, more often, go over people’s heads. That was warning enough not even try with the really dark material. But there was one thing to come out of the project that was well-received, and I have given it a fair amount of circulation over the years. So, for whatever it is worth, here are Zaratustra’s theories on driving… which, incidentally, I don’t.
These are the words of Zaratustra, das ubermensch:
The automobile is the crowning achievement of modern civilization. Until the last century, the great scourges of healthy adults were plague, famine and warfare. The advance of science has long since banished these perils from day-to-day existence. In their place, science provided the automobile, which has killed more than all the traditional threats put together. The car has furthermore perfected the balance of the increasing concentrations of people with the increasing isolation of individual persons from each other. For, traditionally, travel and commerce were the two pursuits in which human contact was inevitable. But by moving around in cars, hordes of people can go past each other every day without even having to look at each other. All the better for hating each other in the state of perfect abstraction.
Local traffic laws vary greatly, but the truly universal ones are those no government would dare to write down. Based on years of observation, these are the most ubiquitous and important:
- Red lights are only suggestions to stop.
- In matters of right of way, mass is 99.9% of the law.
- No savings in time is too small to endanger life, limb and property, especially someone else’s.
- Do not be concerned about your car’s safety features; make the other drivers concerned about theirs.
- Accelerate on a yellow light; brake on a green arrow.
- The principle purpose of turn signals is to misdirect your adversaries.
- Always stay in front of as many people as possible.
- Corollary to the 7th law: If you cannot maintain a lead by going faster, then force those behind to go slower.
- Any division of the road that can be driven over is optional.
- The greatest benefit of the automobile is that it allows travel with anonymity. Maximize this benefit: Tint your windows; roll them up; turn up the radio; and do NOT use bumper stickers.
Thus spake Zaratustra!
David N. Brown