Most drivers, and it seems, especially men, hate to be given advice, admonishment or even praise about their activities behind the wheel. They would prefer to be left alone in their own world of driving, a world which ordinarily pivots around them and in which they never commit an error and the other driver is always wrong, pig-headed and should be deprived of his or her license.

Knowing this, I offer the following advice to the driver of the late-model GM sedan, license number 75_ MWX, with whom I had the dubious pleasure of sharing Highway 52 northbound near Zumbrota at around 10:20pm on 14-Dec-98, in the spirit of the season: open, humanistic, affirming and sharing.

Sir: I don’t know how old you are, but the lady riding shotgun in your car had to be at least sixty-five. If you are her contemporary, or older, perhaps you haven’t kept up with life in the fast lane. Or, maybe you are younger and, as so often happens these days, you were unable to profit from learned adult tutelage during your early days behind the wheel. I’m old enough to be set in my ways, especially concerning driving, but I have made at least a nodding concession to the new way of motoring since four-lane highways have become popular. Please let me share a few of my observations on what constitutes polite driving these days:

Try to stay at least five or six feet behind the bumper of the car in front of you. Especially when you and the other car are the only two vehicles for five-hundred miles around.

Try to dim your lights (make sure that little red or blue indicator in the dash panel is OFF) when you attempt to hook your front bumper on the trunk emblem of the car in front of you.

When you decide to pass another vehicle, go ahead and do it. Hanging out for miles on end at the left rear quarter of the car you’re passing is considered bad form, especially when your high beams are melting the glass in both his rearview mirrors.

When you decide to pass another vehicle (and this is a corollary to the above suggestion) try to go a little faster than the vehicle you’re passing. Going by the other driver then hanging out on his left front quarter panel, or, worse yet, pulling into his lane about three inches ahead of him and slowing down by twenty miles an hour, is considered REALLY bad form.

Review your owner’s manual for tips on using the cruise control feature that’s included on most late-model autos. Judicious use of this device will help you avoid the embarrassment of being passed by the guy you just passed due to your failure to maintain a constant rate of advance down the motorway.

If you choose to ignore this advice (and the sundry other suggestions hailing down on you in numbing quantity from everyone unfortunate enough to share your vehicle while you’re driving) then at least accept this final suggestion: put a bag over your license plate before you leave your driveway in case the next guy you infuriate decides to plunk down his five bucks at the DMV, get your home address and blow both your godammed cheeks off so you’ll never sit behind the wheel again.