No One's Died When I've Driven Drunk, So What's the Problem?

Pictured: Gerald William Bunson

There are some people who can't control themselves behind the wheel -- grandmothers and Asians, mostly -- but I'm not one of those people. I'm the best driver I know, even with years of driving horribly impaired, under the influence of whatever I can get my hands on, whether it was a little bit of Jack & Coke or a few rags of paint thinner. And you know what? I think driving in a severely impaired state all this time is what sharpened my skills so well.

Take a sober person who drives badly, for example. Give her a whiff of drink, and she'll be all over the road. Heck, even put the bottle near her, and it's curtains for her and her passengers! But then think about your local bar at 2AM when all the designated drivers have gone home. That's where I come in: the guy with years of practice driving home drunk, and driving drunks home drunk. Even if it takes me five minutes to find the keys and re-learn how the ignition works, it's not like I haven't done it before.

Science really has my back on this one. All of the warnings I've read about driving drunk talk about your diminished reaction time, which really means, "You're only in trouble if you suddenly need to swerve around a large marmot in the road." And really, in that scenario, I'd probably just hit the marmot. Besides that, being drunk doesn't stop me from driving five miles under the speed limit (to avoid looking suspicious) and correcting myself when my car periodically drifts over the double yellow -- in other words, all the things the modern road asks of you.

But people get so uppity about that kind of stuff. If I admit to my friends or sorta-girlfriend that I drove myself home last night, just moments after I drunk dialed everyone that would answer and filled up their voicemails with sobbing apologies for things I did seven years ago, they treat me like I ran over their grandma or a pregnant woman crossing the street. What a generalization! Plus, even if I had, it probably wouldn't have been my fault anyway, because I'm more skilled at drunk driving than an average sober grandma or expecting mother is at sober walking.

How did drunk driving get to me such a taboo subject in our society? I blame Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Whenever somebody brings up MADD to me, I like to point out that realistically, most of those women's sons would have died in some way or another anyway -- possibly a worse way. Do you know how many ways there are to die these days? I'd much rather be killed instantly by a drunk driver than slowly crushed to death in some kind of big industrial grinder.

I like to think of myself as a logically consistent guy: I didn't support the pre-emptive war in Iraq, and I don't support pre-emptive action that keeps perfectly safe -- albeit wasted -- drivers off the road. Now, if I go and cause the deaths of a whole senior citizens' outing on their way to the mall, or a school bus full of kindergartners on their way to the first day of school, then go ahead and take away my license for a while. At least until I'm rehabilitated and capable of driving with my usual morning buzz, which is the only way I'll get into the driver's seat in the first place. I mean, have you seen the traffic in this town?

But that'll never happen. Did I ever tell you about my driving record? It's impeccable. You may find a number of violations for possession, intent to sell, the contributing to the delinquency of a minor and other marginal charges, but none of it indicates that I'm dangerous behind the wheel. When it comes to driving under the influence, you'll never find a safer driver than me. It makes me wonder how completely amazing a driver I'd be if I were ever sober behind the wheel. Probably good enough to drive a bus...although really, I think I can do that already, which is why I'm hoping to pick up this part time job as a school bus driver as soon as I get the call-back.

Gerald William Bunson currently lives in North Dakota, where he writes usage directions for toilet paper. His streak of not having killed anyone while driving drunk still stands...for now.

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