Saturday, January 1, 2011

Quote of the Day: Jan Morris on Motorcades

From Coast to Coat: A Journey Across 1950s America by Jan Morris, originally known as As I Saw the U.S.A. by James Morris, about motorcades in Manhattan:
And there in the recesses of the grandest car can be seen the distinguished visitor, opera singer, or diplomat or bronzed explorer, shamefully delighted at being able to ignore the traffic rules. I rode in one such a cavalcade, and found that the psychological effect can be disturbing. A mild little man sharing my car was soon hurling vicious abuse at the less agile of the pedestrians, and the wife of the distinguished visitor fainted.
It makes me wonder: when almost all drivers are able to ignore the laws against killing pedestrians and cyclists, and dismiss all enforcement efforts as "revenue generation," what are the psychological effects?


jazumah said...

You mean the "tank" psychology?

Vehicles make us feel powerful. Big vehicles make us feel more powerful. SUVs go for the chrome moldings to establish the fact that important people drive these machines. Express bus lines that use MCIs have tinted windows, which allows you to observe the world from your cocoon. You are safe, you are comfortable, and you are juust plain better.

Don't even get me started on commuter rail or Amtrak, when you zip by the unfortunate drivers stuck in traffic on the highway. Who told those knuckleheads to drive during rush hours anyway?

Cap'n Transit said...

It's a bit more than that, Joel. It's not just the big vehicle, but the knowledge that you have rights other people don't, and men with guns to protect those rights.

jazumah said...

People don't necessarily need the special rights or guns backing such to feel that way. See yellow cabs as an example.