Culture

I Judge Drivers Based On Their Cars While I’m Running

One runner shares her profiling tendencies and what types of cars she has learned to stay away from while running on the roads.

angry driver

I’m not proud of myself but “profiling” is a tactic I have used for self preservation for over 15 years. As runners know all too well these days, you can never be too careful out there. In addition to having my music or podcast volume low, I keep my head on a swivel, and if you’re driving a late model Oldsmobile and I can barely see your head over the steering wheel, I may just jump into the woods around that corner, since I’m positive you can’t see me. Or anything else for that matter.

Here are other ways I profile people by the cars they drive when I’m running on the roads. Think of it as a public service announcement because it just may save your life.

Car Type: Pickup Truck

Behind The Wheel:
For whatever reason, and maybe it’s just in my farm town, but the men who drive the biggest pickup trucks seem to be in the biggest hurry. They are forced to almost come to a complete stop if there is another vehicle coming from the opposite direction and they are super pissed about the three seconds they have to stop or slow down. I know this because as soon as the roadway is clear, they rev the engine and pass me going as fast as possible.

Dude, if your side view mirrors were not as big a flatscreen you wouldn’t have these issues. And, I’m so sorry I’m out here running on what is clearly your road. However, your reaction to my presence is more indicative of someone selling crack to kids.

I think you need to take up running to relax a bit before you have a massive coronary.

My Reaction:
Do not make eye contact. Do not change position. Duck under side view mirrors if necessary.

Car Type: Minivan

Behind the Wheel:
Caution! There is most likely a tired, angry, hungry and annoyed mom with no less than four kids in the back. By 8 a.m. she has already had the longest day ever and most likely has handled human feces, mumbled obscenities to herself non-stop and completed five loads of laundry but has no clean clothes of her own.

As she drives her carnival of horrors past me I can see her eyes roll so severely into her head I think she may be convulsing. And then, as if we are momentarily telepathically connected, I am overcome by a distinct “Go **** yourself” directly into my face.

My Reaction:
I slow down, start panting, let my form sag and look like I am having the worst time ever. Someone has to be the bright spot in her day.

Car Type: Commercial Van

Behind the Wheel:
A. Painter
B. Contractor
C. Attacker

My Reaction:
Silently praying for A or B while moving tab to “spray” position on mace.

Car Type: Volkswagen Passat

Behind the Wheel:
Punks of the male variety and usually too many to actually fit into a Volkswagen Passat. They get overly excited to see some nerd out running and, since there is literally nothing better to do in my town, they get ready to whistle, catcall, drive too closely or shout obscenities, based solely on what I look like.

I like to think that I confuse them.

From a distance they may think I’m a young hottie so they get their best one-liners ready but, as they get closer I start looking more like a 15-year-old boy—but wait, I’m wearing a sports bra, which is when they ultimately realize I’m old enough to be their mom and, we have come full circle to the insults, middle fingers or sideswipes.

My Reaction:
I put on the nastiest face I can conjure which, depending on the terrain may be easier or harder, move to the very edge of the pavement and keep my eyes focused on the road. I also desperately try to remember that I was once as young and as stupid as they are now and I make a mental note to go over this kind of idiocy with my sons.

Car Type: Subaru Outback

Behind the Wheel:
The happiest most outdoorsy and active person you would just ever have the pleasure of meeting. Their car is probably overloaded with kayaks, bikes and camping equipment.

They are most likely noshing on something organic and wholesome while talking on their bluetooth about the best way to conserve and preserve their favorite hiking trail.

They practically drive off the road to give you more room for your commendable activity and may quite possibly shout something encouraging and inspiring to spur you along.

If you flag them down they will give you food and shelter for the night.

My Reaction:
You get me. But you’re taking it a little far, even for me.

NOTE: The author drives a Toyota Sequoia SUV which is way too big for her 5’ 1” frame but she gives all runners a very wide berth, a wave and a smile…