Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Thoughts On Tailgating

Well, I have received my first official blog request from my friend Stacy. Her topic of choice? Tailgating. Not the intoxicated-and-shirtless-man-mass-huddled-around-a- barbeque-grill-in-the-parking-lot kind of tailgating. I’ve come to believe that such a scenario either exists only in Miller Lite commercials or is simply foreign to my world, because I have yet to witness anything like it firsthand. This is probably because parking lots in Phoenix are much like crock pots, and, were Phoenicians to tailgate, burgers and bratwurst could be prepared sans grill, seared to perfection on the hood of an F-150. No, I’ve been assigned to write about the other kind of tailgating. The kind of tailgating that has elicited such bumper stickers as: “I brake for tailgaters,” “Stop tailgating me, or I’ll flick a booger on your windshield,” and “Unless you’re a hemorrhoid, get off my…” Well, you get the picture.

The experience of being tailgated almost always begins with a look into the rearview mirror. You’ll glance up at it as you do periodically, then do a double-take, wondering why the car behind you has no hood. “Am I towing somebody?” you may wonder to yourself. Perhaps so, but more likely you are the victim of a tailgater. I think the offense that we find with tailgaters is similar to that which we find with close-talkers: an invasion of personal space. The difference with a close-talker is that if you need to suddenly end the conversation, the threat of whiplash is not involved. This must be why following too closely can be punishable by law and close-talking is only a minor social annoyance. But that is a blog for another time.

I find that riding in the car with a tailgater is far more nerve-wracking than actually being tailgated. The driver will carry on casually, oblivious to the concept of a following distance and completely unaware of the nail marks that you are leaving in the armrest. You may attempt to hold up your end of the conversation with distracted “uh-huh”s and “oh, really?”s, but mentally you are occupied with visions of truck under-ride and airbags deploying as your right foot continues to involuntarily press down on the imaginary passenger-side brake pedal.

I must admit, as most of us would, that I have been on both sides of tailgating. I’m not much of an aggressive driver now that I cart around two babies in the backseat, but over the years I have learned a thing or two about the practice both firsthand and through the observation of others. One thing is for sure: while there may be a time now and then when tailgating is warranted, there are more often times to relax and back off. So I will wrap up this fragmented entry by compiling a short list of guidelines that the casual tailgater may find helpful in discerning when tailgating might not be the best idea.

When Not to Tailgate

-On the freeway.

-When testing for your driver's license.

-When you’re stuck behind a car that has had its turn signal on for 6 blocks. This is a waste of your energy. If they haven’t noticed the continuous clicking and flashing lights coming from their dashboard, they most certainly are not going to notice you either.

-When the car in front of you displays any or all of the aforementioned bumper stickers.

-When any of your passengers have a known heart condition.

- When driving without car insurance, or with a deductible that could single-handedly send you into personal bankruptcy.

- Sunday mornings, en route to church. Chances are, the driver in front of you meandering along at 10 miles below the speed limit is headed to the same place you are. Better to be a few minutes late then to rear end an elder.

-When the car in front of you indicates an affiliation with the NRA.


Brent Klontz said...


Rofl!!! I am definitely not a tailgater! For me, I am more of a fearless tailgate stopper:) Anytime someone tailgates me, I don't put on the brakes or speed up, I merely take my foot off the gas pedal. I have gotten the bird a few times as people hop in the other lane and quickly pass me. But it gives me so much satisfaction when I help teach tailgaters to be patient by slowing my car to a gradual stop on the road. When I start to slow to 15 mph in a 45 zone, I think most of them get the picture that I don't like tailgaters.

Also, good advice about not tailgating on the way to church. I didn't tailgate, but I honked at someone one time on my way to church. Boy did I feel stupid when I followed them the remaining 3 miles to church. Yeah, I actually kept driving pass the church so they didn't know I went there. Wow, never again will I honk at someone on my way to church.

Rusty said...

rofl @ kristie and brent. you guys crack me up.

Stacy said...

Beautiful portrayal of the problem that is tailgating.

YAY Kristie for being such a faithful request follower! I do somehow feel vindicated by your blog!!

Well done, good and faithful writer friend.

Call me at work tomorrow- K. We may have another topic.. The wonders of bridal shop horrors.....
(Giving you a Harper-like smile)
Love Stacy

Anonymous said...

Kristie..I absolutely love your blog. I check it almost daily to see if you've written.

A new fan, (I frequent the Write About Jesus Website)


Heather said...

Kristie your a funny gal. Yep I have also tailgated on the way to church and if I remember correctly it was the parents of one of my old high school girls...ooops. Anyways I am a huge fan of driving distance between vehicles now! So thanks again for another entertaining entry from Mrs. Braselton.

Jenn said...

.... guilty frown... I've tailgated more than I care to admit. I speed too, unfortunately. Oh well. I guess the lesson I've learned today is.... no tailgating?


Andie said...

I must admit that I, too, am an instructor in the Brent Klontz school of tailgating!..I laughed so hard when I read the line about the tailgater being so close that it looks like you're towing them. Maybe this will give me new patience with tailgaters. I will pretend that I'm helping them out by towing them. Thanks Kristie!