Recently I had to go on a speeding awareness course for the obvious reason that I was caught speeding. If I had gone for any other reason other than being forced to under threat of half losing my dawn years worth of driving licence then I would clearly be insane because, as I will go into, these things are more dull than a death of incontinent old age in a nursing home could ever muster.
Why was I speeding? Well I could give you many reasons. Firstly, in all fairness it was two in the morning, on an empty dual carriage way, with no pavement and I was only going at 34 mph in a 30 mile an hour zone. But those reasons aside, at it's core it's literally because I'm an asshole and don't really give a shit and believe that my self control of my car will save me in dire times. Although at the time I was also pretty damn tired and sick of driving so maybe my self confidence was slightly undeserved. And yes I've seen all the THINK adverts both on TV and giant billboards that warn me of the consequences of my actions. But it's at the point now where I've been so banged over the head with the warnings that I immediately skim over any of the billboards that don't look like they're about upcoming films and any time I see the little girl getting hit at 40 miles an hour and being left as a lifeless corpse on the side of the road I'm usually either concentrating on eating a sandwich or just fast forwarding.
It's not my fault, I swear. It's just over exposure. I live in a world where I get so much information thrown at my eyes on a daily basis that all it's left me with is a shattered attention span, way too much knowledge of people's personal lives and an unrealistic idea of sex. How was I ever going to care about speeding in this boiling broth of too much stuff to not give a shit about.
There are two ways to avoid speeding. One of them is to never speed. The other is to meticulously scout out and learn where each speed camera is within the radius of where you frequently travel and then just grind to a halt at each destination, obeying the law just enough so that the law can't prove that you did anything wrong. I prefer the latter usually. I regretted thinking this as soon as I walked into the random conference room of a featureless hotel that the company had arranged for us to come to.
I hadn't actually slept at all the previous night due to my usually eventless life giving me no real reason to differentiate between night and day since I'm usually inside entertaining myself, my only real reason for caring whether or not the light is in the sky is so that I can go to the shops and such. Not that this is even a pressing issue since they recently built a 24/7 Tescos just down the road. Even open on Sunday and Christmas Day. Gotta love Tescos.
So I walked into the room and there was the oddest collection of people I think I've ever seen gathered. From looks alone it was like a net had been swiped angrily into the social pond and dragged up anything that got caught up. There was a couple of fat people, one old guy, a twat in the corner trying to look badass with his baseball cap turned backwards and then me, looking messy and slightly dazed from the fact that in order to stay awake I was now more Monster energy drink than man. The personalities of the people would later come out and all of the stereotypes were in there. There was the angry teenager who answered grumpily, the middle aged joker in the corner who always had a witty comeback or observation which had been nurtured from his confidence of being the most least funny one in his group of drinking buddies. Then there was the chirpy housewife, the bold and brash young adult with a stupid baseball cap on (not myself) and finally a swollen, red faced fucking countryside pipe smoking cunt who constantly bitched out loud about everything and became strangely competitive whenever his knowledge of the road was questioned because he's lived it and all that stuff.
The dreaded speeding camera. The method of the enforcement of a law that I only appreciate until I get caught for it. Much like selling your children or buying prostitutes
The group was run by two blokes who I'm going to call Bob and Dave, but might actually be called that because they had pretty generic names, making my attempted anonymity absolutely worthless. But like the crowd they had both distinctly different styles of presenting. Bob enjoyed shock factor. Dave enjoyed just talking quietly at the front and being overall quite soothing to listen to, like a grandfather reading you a soft bedtime story of road safety facts. The problem was that Bob really wasn't good at his job at all.
Bob was a tell it straight kind of guy. Right off the bat he told us that they were forced by the police that they had to do a four hour set and that they were just going to use as much material as they had to fill it, not all of it being relevant. I imagine in his head it came off as if he was just being honest with us and that should make us respect and like him more. All I really saw was a man telling us that he was about to talk mostly irrelevant bullshit filler for the next few hours, which made my concentration slightly lull.
The entire set up for these speeding courses has been designed for an almost surgical pinpoint impact. It's as if they took some of the development money that the government uses to fund research into more effective torture techniques and used the little that was left to create a brute force, cheap and dirty full on boredom treatment, to literally numb you into compliance.
But Bob was coming to the rescue to alleviate the boredom. He would show us facts and information before turning around to the inattentive audience and saying “stunned silence”. He constantly believed that every time anyone was staring at him both quiet and with a glazed over expression across their face, that this was in fact the emotion of being stunned to the point where your body is unable to express any opinion or response to what it has just witnessed. This circular system of Bob being a boring tit and people acting has such is probably what has led Bob to believe that he is some kind of free wheeling maverick who tells it like it is and the unresponsive boredom that he receives back only goes on to massage this image of himself.
Another of his catchphrases was having just said a fact or statement he would simply turn around and ask, “Do you accept that, do you agree with that?” Alot of the time he would just say this after stating to us quite a regular thing such as, “The faster you go, the longer it takes to stop”. Dramatic turn to the audience. “Do you accept that, do you agree with that?” Everyone agreed, the countryside cunt agreeing the loudest as if to demonstrate that he was on the ball the most. The funny one would then chime in an average joke that raised a chuckle and the smart ass ballsy guy in the cap would then make the obvious point that what Bob just said was obvious. The baseball cap guy is basically the funny guy but with a little bit more attitude, almost as if he doesn't care that you find his comment funny or not, but instead acts like he's some kind of enlightened out of the box thinker, not realising that everyone's not saying anything because we all think what Bob's saying is obvious bullshit. It's just that we didn't have to verbalise it because that too would be obvious. I appreciated the funny man a little more because at least every time he chimed in, it seemed desperate, as if he was searching for your approval, which made me feel strangely superior in what was an otherwise quite soul destroying experience.
Here. Enjoy some stopping distance facts that I learnt, just to break up the text
But sometimes Bob would get a little bit carried away and begin asking us to agree to the strangest questions. Some of them were simply too difficult or philosophical to answer on the spot. Other times, I just simply didn't have the data necessary to even begin to agree with him. He showed us a video of an old speeding advert where the advert claimed that if a car started breaking at point X, then it would've stopped at point Y. Of course in the advert it just goes on to kill a child as these things usually do. Although the driver did kill a child who had just run out into the road for no real reason, so I kind of felt like a little of the blame rested on him. Afterall, the car was speeding, why would you step out in front of that? There's no way he could've stopped in time. What a stupid kid.
But back to the question Bob posed, having just seen this. “Do you accept that, do you agree with that”? I had no idea whether or not to agree with that. Unless I was some kind of master of physics, with a Dr Manhattan level of foresight, in which case I would've already known throughout all of time that I would be and was in this shitty speeding awareness course and would've taken immediate action to try and end my existence at the earliest point. But that would be so many paradoxes that I won't go into that. What I will go into is what a redundant thing that would be to agree with, which is what most of the room did, since there is no way in hell that I would ever be able to know that information since I am not capable of making complex physics calculations on the fly, especially using shitty fuzzy as cataracts infested 1970s VHS footage as my basis.
Of course at this point the baseball cap one started a five minute discussion when he argued with Bob that he didn't believe the driver had actually hit his brakes at the time the video said. This was both irrelevant and annoying, and sadly would've been time that I'd have preferred Bob to talk.
It was then that Bob got philosophical with it. “If you hit someone at 40 miles an hour, then 80% of the time people will die.” I had phased out slightly at this bit because this was a gruelling 2 hours in and I was already starting to feel myself getting tired. Also I had only been going at 34 mph, so this didn't seem relevant to me. “But even though 20% survived, they'd had to live a life in a coma or possibly in a wheelchair, with no use of their arms or legs. In that case, it would seem that it'd be better to be in the dead 80%”. “Do you accept that, do you agree with that?” he asked still staring at the board. He turned around. “Stunned silence”. Yeah stunned silence Bob. Yeah. I think you just asked me to rhetorically agree that anyone who is in a coma or is in a wheelchair is inherently better off dead, living a pointless existence that they may as well accept and let the car that destroyed their lives instead be the one to end it. Everyone else however nodded their heads in agreement so I guess the room was fine with that one.
Dave came on after. He talked for an hour about what types of roads there were. He was nice. But none of it had anything to do with speeding, so I started to see where the filler had started to slip in. The filler was Dave all along. At one point Dave gave us a picture of a roundabout and asked if anyone recognized it. The countryside cunt did and began a long drawling on tale about all the roads that the roundabout led off to and all the villages that they connected to, just to show further how much about the roads he fucking knew. He then told us all about a lovely pub that was just off the first exit which did a cheap pint, unlike all those other bloody expensive pints that litter the wasteland of a country that infects the sides of every other road that leads off of that roundabout. I didn't think that drink driving was the best thing for him to be promoting at a speeding course. The pub also does a cheap pie, but a good one at that. It rambled on for so long, with him not even talking to anyone in particular but instead staring off into the distance recalling boring details in the same monotone way that someone would recall a past life or a traumatic childhood event under hypnosis. It became so much that even calm and soothing Dave had to ask him to be quiet, to which countryside cunt huffed and sunk further into his chair.
The course did teach me one thing. As this chart show, you can actually speed, just not by too much. Brings into question why you'd even set a speed limit if it isn't even the actual limit
Then Dave left and Bob came on for another hour and a bit. We had some group exercises, during which I tried to remain completely silent. A fact that the chirpy lady next to me didn't quite understand while she excitedly talked about all the hazards that she could spot on the village road in the picture that we'd been given. I felt like an asshole at first, but then realised where I was and quickly went to not giving a shit. I'm not sure if pretending to be interested in a spot the hazards activity makes me a terrible person, but I have no regrets and to have acted any other way would've just been a lie. And as we know the only thing worse than a speeder is a liar.
Bob took the stage once more. He asked us why we'd sped and for other reasons to speed and that he would write them all down on his board. A lot of people said they were getting tired and had to get home. Some said they were late. One man said his girlfriend was in labour and he was in a rush to get her to hospital. I said I was bored. Bob said that I was a stupid for being bored since driving is a lot of fun. He then continued to write that I was 'board' on the board.
After he'd collected all the results, he turned to us and asked us to imagine a situation. You're driving down the road and suddenly you see little Jimmy walking with his parents. Suddenly, little Jimmy runs into the road and even though you go to brake, you don't stop soon enough because you were speeding. Jimmy dies that night in hospital. You're in court the next month and you see Jimmy's parents in the stalls and they plead with you and ask, “Why were you speeding?” You tell them your reason. But now your reasons, he taps the board, just look like excuses. “Stunned silence” he says dramatically to the group.
I still think the guy driving his pregnant wife to the hospital still had a good reason though.
So that was that. That's a speeding awareness driving course. I'm not going to make one of those dipshit claims that it was the worst thing ever or that it was worse than being on the front lines or something. My advice would be to not speed because the consequences of it are boring. Gruellingly boring and it is something I never want to experience again. Well, that is until I wait the minimum period of a year before I can attend one again and go on to inevitably speed once more.
Because at the end of the day, I'll always be bored and maybe little Jimmy's mum should just control her kid. The stupid bitch.