Beware the dangling shit
My husband called this to my attention not too long ago, and since then I’ve been taking note of it and it holds up pretty solidly: people who hang stuff off of their rearview mirrors are lousy drivers, and a significant proportion of all lousy drivers at that. He calls this “the dangling shit theory.”
Now, I’m not talking about disabled parking placards or other permits that people display from their rearview mirrors. I’m talking dreamcatchers, beads, fuzzy dice, and other trinkets and baubles.
And if you think about it, there’s a certain logic to it. These people see the rearview mirror not as a crucial safety feature of their car, but as a convenient place to display shiny things that can distract them, like a mobile over a baby’s crib or one of those feather-on-a-string things my cats love so much. Moreover, hanging shit from the rearview mirror bespeaks mental distraction from the car itself, placing more importance on making it a vessel for displaying one’s personal “flair” than on the dangerous task at hand of driving while being fully aware of the surroundings beyond the cocoon of the car’s interior.
“But, Nathan,” I hear you begin to protest, “haven’t we romanticized the car exactly because it can be a canvas for personal expression?”
To which I say, sure, up to a point that’s fine. We choose our cars on the basis of their styling and what we feel that says about us (choose carefully!), and if it makes you smile walking up to or away from your car to see a dashing racing stripe or a witty bumper sticker or whatever, knock yourself out.
But when you choose to “express yourself” by putting crap right in your line of sight while you’re flinging a ton and a half of steel down the road, all you’re expressing to me is that you don’t take driving seriously enough for me to trust you.
Next time you find yourself behind someone who’s parked in the passing lane or making a left turn from the right-hand lane, cast your eyes up to their windshield and see if there isn’t something dangling merrily from the mirror. Try it, it’s fun!