Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road

Posted: Jan 12, 2009 6:36 PM
Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road

Shortly after Winston’s plane landed, Winston proceeded through the airport terminal to the rental car kiosk and picked up the keys to his American made sedan. Driving out of the airport, Winston steered his car into the left-hand lane and drove toward the freeway.

Understandably, airport access roads can be quite confusing, but the solid yellow line down the middle of the roadway was clearly visible and Winston should have known he was driving on the “wrong” side of the road. If that wasn’t enough of a clue, there were vehicles coming right at him in this left lane. Not surprisingly, the drivers of these cars honked and waved and pointed to the right hand lane. They were trying to signal to poor Winston that he was in the wrong lane.

Some drivers assumed that Winston was drunk. Others wondered if perhaps he was a confused, elderly driver. But the policeman that ultimately pulled him over found that he was neither drunk nor confused. He was British. Ah, well, that explains everything.

Winston is not like the rest of us. As a Brit, he is naturally wired to drive on the left side of the road. It’s almost as if he has no choice but to veer toward the left. While it can’t be said with any certainty that Brits are born with this left-leaning tendency, I’m sure it has been the subject of heated debate by lofty scholars in the hallowed halls of marble institutions of higher thought: the whole “nature vs. nurture” thing. But does it really matter whether Winston’s urge to drive on the left-hand side is genetically programmed or simply that this is where he feels most comfortable? Perhaps it’s just an extension of who he is.

How dare this police officer pull this poor man over for doing only what comes naturally to him. Of course, all Winston had to do upon being stopped is to announce to the policeman that he is a Brit and that during his visit to the U.S. he will be driving on the left-hand side. Now, surely the police officer, upon learning the circumstances of Winston’s predisposition, slapped Winston on the back with a friendly and understanding glance and sent him on his way with his blessing – on the wrong side of the road. After all, should police officers really be interfering with such personal preferences? What right do Americans have to arbitrarily decide that we should drive on the right side of the road anyway? Surely Brits have their rights, too?

Oh, you might say, “They can drive here, so long as they follow our rules!” But that is so hidebound and narrow. Live a little! Having an occasional “left-hander” coming down your lane will be exciting and mix things up a little. It’s diversity, for crying out loud. He isn’t saying everyone has to drive in the left lane. You can drive wherever you want. But what’s a little left-lane driving to you? It doesn’t mean you have to drive in the left lane. Who are you to judge “left-handers” anyway?

Now, you might say, “What about safety concerns?” or “We’ve always driven on the right side of the road.” But these responses only reveal how insensitive you are to poor Winston and his predilection. Of course, there may be some risks, but you have to weigh them against the severe emotional damage you might do to Winston should you suggest that he has to conform to our rigid and unaccepting standards.

And besides, over time, as more and more people grow comfortable with the idea that some people will be driving on the left side, we will all adjust, and it will become the new normal. You’ll see.

And if we haven’t already taken this analogy to a ridiculous and transparent extreme, we could go on and on and maybe even include terms such as “bigotry,” “civil rights,” and “tolerance.”

Sound silly? Perhaps. But it is no more silly or illogical than the arguments that are proffered by the outspoken advocates who are ardently advancing the campaign to redefine marriage. The extreme demands of this radical group would insist that the rest of the world bow down to its own unnatural and dangerous behavior, and they accuse those who resist of being “narrow,” “mean-spirited,” and even “un-American.”

There are very good reasons we drive on the right side of the road. There is no good reason, not even for the sake of “tolerance” (whatever that means), to introduce destructive chaos into this time-honored system.