165. To Know A Man

Some time ago, people believed that to know a man, you must watch him under pressure; because a man’s true character comes out in the heat of trial, right?

A little while ago, Abraham Lincoln proposed that to know a man, don’t watch him when under pressure. Anyone can withstand adversity. To know a man, give him power, and see what he does with it.

Today, I’d like to present to all of you what I consider to be a groundbreaking way to know a person’s true self: watch the way they drive.


Watch the way they drive. People can disguise their words. They can control their actions. They can put on a front. They can adjust their habit. Put them behind a steering wheel and get them out on the roads, however, and there’s no stopping them from revealing who they are on the inside.

Go on, try it out with people whom you have known for a little while now. I can almost guarantee that despite the appearance that they give to people they meet and casual acquaintances, they will be most true to themselves while driving.

Earlier this morning, I went out for breakfast with my dad. With us was a friend of his, who also drove us to the breakfast place. The man drove a dull blue Volvo, and I figured – about five minutes – into the car ride that he’s the asshole driver we all hate.

He took his time. It was a one-lane road on either directions, and he was traveling at the astounding speed of 20kmph, while car after car lined up behind him, all stuck behind his dull blue Volvo. As he made his slow drive, oblivious to the obviously angry drivers behind him, he took time to share with the both of us about his philosophy of life and faith.

He was insufferable, to say the least.

It was on the drive home that I realized he behaved exactly the way he drove: without giving a thought to the opinions of others. As carelessly as he drove on the roads, he dispensed sagely advice on how I should be writing.

You should read more widely, Joseph.

…What makes you think that I do not already read widely?

Just saying.

But enough about the man.

I began to apply the theory to a few other friends that I know rather well, and I find it to be true: people are most honestly and unashamedly themselves when driving. The friends who lived crazily, drove crazily. The friends who were oblivious to the presence and/or thoughts of others were similarly oblivious to the other drivers on the road. The friends who were silent but determined were economical in the use of their car horn, but got to where they needed to be efficiently enough.

So according to my driving habits, I’m a coward who’d avoid confrontation at my own expense. Which is true.

Really, though. Try it out. See if what I say is true. Of course, like all good psychological experiments, the subject being tested must not know that they are being tested, or you’ll get skewed results. Observe the way your closest friends drive, and see if it’s not exactly the way they behave and react with others.

Finally, to the HR recruiters using this as an alternative interviewing method: I accept donations, preferably in cash.


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