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road sage

There's a reason Santa uses a sleigh.

Even if he were to hop behind the wheel of a lightning-fast Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, he'd be finished before he started. Traffic congestion, fuel prices, speed traps and deranged drivers high on "incredible prices" and candy canes would have his round-the-globe toy distribution excursion stalled not long after he left the North Pole.

It's a fact. The Yuletide season is not kind to us motorists. Laden down with material representations of our affection (presents), we need our cars more than ever. This means more people on the road, and more people on the road means more chance for human error.

You'd think Christmas would be a time when drivers, imbued with the spirit of the season, would be go out of their way to do good deeds, to let other drivers merge ahead of them or to relinquish that parking space.

Think again.

Driving during the run up to Christmas is like watching It's a Wonderful Life but, instead of George Bailey succumbing to depression and jumping off a bridge, he decides to drink five cappuccinos, read the Crate and Barrel catalogue, get behind the wheel of a 1941 Ford DeLuxe Fordor and max out his credit card at Woolworths.

Here now, with all festive urgency, are:

The Five Worst Christmas Driving Aggravations

Trees on cars: In early December, those of us who still crave a natural tree head out in our vehicles in search of the perfect Fraser Fir. We get sentimental and we're in the early stages of Christmas dementia, so we buy a big one and then we try to take it home. We try. Many of us neglect to consider basic questions. Questions like, "How am I going to take this eight-foot pine home on the roof of my Smart car?" The answer, invariably, is "With great difficulty." The proud new tree owner gets to white-knuckle it through holiday traffic terrified that the thin polyester string used to tie down the tree may snap at any minute and send it "dashing through the windshield" of some oncoming car.

People getting psyched up about beating spot checks and RIDE programs: You hear them in bars trading tips – "There was one on King Edward Street last night." You see their tweets as the pubs close – "Careful – Spot check on Woodruff Drive!" Ask them individually if they oppose drinking and driving and they'll give you a resounding yes. So why try to beat spot checks? Simple, they don't drink and drive, they drink "just enough" and then drive. Funny, every Christmas people still get killed drunk driving despite all the gin-soaked rationalization.

There's no secret to beating a spot check. It's easy. Don't drink and drive. Hey, I'm not trying to discourage you from getting hammered – that's your call – it's a miserable mixed-up world. Just don't convince yourself that driving is a good idea when you've had nine pints of holiday cheer. Take a cab, bum a ride, pass out in a toilet stall – even that's safer.

Commercials where people get cars for Christmas and they all have big red bows on them: The plots are facile: "It's Christmas morning! I'm a kind-of good-looking guy with a wife who's much better-looking than me but who people would believe would marry me if I had lots of money or was a really good listener. 'Honey! Time to get up! Hey honey, look in the driveway! It's a brand new car with a great big red ribbon on it! Do you love me? Do you love me now? Can we make this thing work? Will you forget about the affair?'"

Number One: They're not realistic. Lots of people sleep in the nude and you never see the guy climb out of bed naked and tell his wife she has a new car. They always wear those horrible pajamas. It's not natural. A realistic commercial would be a naked guy, half-asleep saying, "Hey babe, look out the window." His wife gets up and peers out: "What?" The guy says, "I got the car washed. So, now that you're up, will you get me a cup of coffee?"

Second: Now, granted, I'm a journalist criticizing advertisers, which is a bit like a salamander telling a snake "that's low," but to me these are in extremely bad taste. We're talking about the birth of the Christian Saviour. You don't celebrate that by sticking a red ribbon on a four-wheeled crap box and saying, "We'll pay the HST." What, are you going to have special commercials this Easter with cars with big purple bows on them and copy that says, "This Good Friday only! We're nailing down the prices on all 2013 models!"

Christmas songs on the radio: You may not know it but some radio station owners have sold their souls to Satan. In exchange for eternal life and not making radio extinct, Satan requires them to play Christmas music beginning some time before, but no later than, October 23. Some stations play Christmas music 24 hours a day. Do we really need to hear MC Hammer's rendition of Silent Night with Deion Sanders on wave organ?

Christmas parking: Few literary buffs know it, but Cormac McCarthy's The Road is said to have been inspired by a trip to a mall just prior to Christmas. Critics and scholars believe that rather than show the true horror of trying to find a parking space on December 23, McCarthy instead painted a picture of a father and son desperately making their way in a post-apocalyptic world where cannibalism and cruelty are the norm.

Follow Andrew Clark on Twitter: @aclarkcomedy


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