Drivers' Time Warp
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I spend a lot of time behind the wheel. Way too much time. And every trip is a gamble, considering my tired, old car has seen 153,000 miles. But I happen to be married to a guy who lives 400 miles away – in a different country, no less – so I really have no choice.

As I spent more and more time in the car, I became intrigued by a little phenomenon that I like to call Drivers’ Time Warp. You know that feeling when you’ve just been cruising down the road for a long time, and you suddenly realize that you have no idea how you got where you are? Somehow, you’ve navigated your way around corners and in and out of lanes, but you have no recollection whatsoever of actually doing the driving. That’s DTW – and it used to scare me. That is, of course, until I figured out the actual cause.

Now, it absolutely horrifies me.

What, I wondered, could possibly be happening to me when I totally lose all track of where I’ve been? Could it be that I’m so caught up in singing along with the radio (so loudly that drivers around me collide, and children start to cry) that I go into autopilot? Am I actually slipping into little mini comas, driving without crashing to my death by nothing more than sheer luck?

Frankly, I started to get a little nervous. What if my autopilot decided one day that Maine would be a nice place to visit, and I snapped out of it only to find myself somewhere in Connecticut? What if I slipped into another mini-coma and awoke to find my car haphazardly parked inside a McDonald’s Play Place?

But, in reality, it’s even worse than that.

Along my journey to seek the truth about DTW, I met a man named Bardolph Schmidt*, who’s an expert in the paranormal. I was skeptical about the possibility of him knowing much about DTW (he didn’t really look like he knew how to drive), but I was waiting for my iced mocha to be ready, and he seemed eager to chat (you know the type). So I humored him and told him about the research I was doing, and his gigantic, bespectacled eyes lit up (or maybe that was just the glare from his glasses – but he seemed pretty excited anyway).

“Oh, yes!” he exclaimed, doing an excited little dance. “I know all about that!” I couldn’t believe my luck! In fact, I was so excited that I almost forgot about my coffee – and that’s not an easy thing for me to do.

DTW (though he called it something else, but it sounded really scientific, and I wasn’t exactly taking notes) is a sure sign of alien abduction. Schmidt explained that people in cars are often an easy target, since they’re encased in a big metal box. They pick you out, and zap! There you are on their space ship. They do the tests they need to conduct (though sometimes they just pick you out because they want someone to play video games with them, explained Schmidt, who claims to have been abducted thousands of times), and then they erase your memory and put you back in you car. Often, however, they fail to put you back at exactly the same time as when they took you, so it’s like you jump ahead in time. That, Schmidt told me, is DTW (this theory can also be used to explain déjà vu, but that’s another article altogether).

“Hold on a second, “ I told him. “This happens to me a lot. So you mean to tell me that every time it happened, there had been aliens poking around at me?”

“Or just playing video games,” he added, nodding. “Actually,” he continued, “sometimes they even get the timing right – so it’s happening even more than you think.” He also noted that it only happens when you’re alone. Apparently, aliens only want one test subject at a time.

I thanked Schmidt for his help, and then I left, coffee in hand, and walked the streets for a while (I figured it was much safer than driving), pondering what I had just discovered.

Ever since my little conversation with Bardolph Schmidt, I’ve been terrified of driving. I refuse to drive alone. So if I have to drive somewhere, I make sure I get someone to ride along with me. I almost got in serious trouble because of it the other day. The neighbor kid’s mom called it “kidnapping” – but I desperately needed to get to the grocery store, and no one else was around.

I guess, when it all comes down to it, I’m not really all that scared about the poking and prodding. It can’t be that much worse than most medical examinations, can it? What I’m really afraid of is the video games. I really hate playing video games.

I guess I’m going to have to start taking the bus.

* This man only exists in my head, in case you were wondering.

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