When I’m in Charge (Part 1): Why We Need Rubber Cars

Posted on May 11, 2011


There are days when I have the ability to see joy and wonder and loveliness everywhere I look. Colors are vivid, birds are chirping, and the future looks bright and full of hope.

This isn’t one of those days.

We have big problems, and very few people are stepping up to correct them. The few who are doing something appear to be making matters worse. I’ve stood idly by long enough, and now have made the only decision that seems both rational and feasible. I’m going to take over the world.

I know what you’re thinking. Others have tried this approach before — taking over the world — and it never works out. But that’s because they do it for the wrong reasons. They’re motivated by greed and a mad lust for power. They want the oil or the land or the gold. I just want to get a good night’s sleep once in a while.

See, I’m a worrier. In any situation, I mentally play out all potential developments in a frantic search for the worst possible outcome. Then I imagine the consequences of that outcome, the pain and suffering that will result, and the wailing of tormented humanity that will rise out of the earth and fill the skies. These things haunt my dreams and jolt me awake. I think it’s mostly the wailing.

Before you assume that I’ve lost my mind, let me explain the plan.

The most obvious challenge will be the actual takeover. At least, that’s what you’d think. But all I have to do is wait until everyone is distracted by some irresistibly alluring event, and then make my move. Such opportune moments could occur during a televised wedding that involves people riding on white horses, the break-up of any celebrity couple, the next trial of the century, or the death of anyone whose passing is deemed by the media to be “the end of an era.”

By the time the masses have emerged from their stupor, I will have assumed control. And not a moment too soon, because there is much work to be done.

Our first task is to make travel safer. We all exist at some point in space, and spend most of our lives trying to move to other points in space. We do this because we get bored looking at the same things, or because we want to confirm our own existence, or because there’s a town four hundred miles away that has factory outlets and no sales tax.

This need to move around creates trouble. It wasn’t always so, of course. Back when there were only a couple of thousand human beings in the whole world, people were thrilled to see each other, and would walk great distances just for the chance to wave hello to someone.

But our numbers have increased. There are an estimated 750 million vehicles on the world’s roads. I was in New Jersey a few weeks ago, and most of them seemed to be there, all converging on the same toll booth. Clearly, though, the problem is global. I don’t know who counted the vehicles, and even if the number is way off, there are still a lot of cars. Just go to the mall on a rainy Saturday afternoon and take a look.

The issue isn’t with the cars themselves. Most are marvels of science and technology that not only take us where we want to go, but also provide music, climate control, and heated seats. The problem is mainly the people who drive the cars. It seems that some of those people like crashing into things. Not everyone, but enough to make our daily excursions a nightmare waiting to happen.

You might argue that we could simply educate these bad drivers. No, we’ve already tried that. They have licenses, so they know how to drive. But they can’t keep their eyes on the road, because they have important text messages to send and cell phone calls to answer. Some are doing crossword puzzles while zipping across town. Others are polishing their fingernails, if you can believe it. So how can we guarantee everyone’s safety?

My solution is to remove all cars and trucks from the road and replace them with vehicles made entirely out of soft rubber. We’ve been driving for more than a century now, and it seems obvious that in a collision involving steel and internal organs, the steel always wins. But rubber vehicles would just bounce off each other. It would be like bumper cars, without all the overhead sparks. We’d still have to wear seat belts, because there will always be the unfortunate possibility of hurtling head-first through a sheet of glass. But the number of injuries and deaths could be reduced to near zero. The worst headline we’d see regarding highway traffic accidents would be something like this:


Not only will rubber cars save lives, but we’ll also save billions of dollars in injury and property claims. As the need for the services now offered by insurance companies and lawyers gradually dwindles, many of those firms will be forced out of business. As a result, some of the very largest buildings and the most opulent offices in our cities will become vacant. In theory, we could use them to provide housing for the homeless, meet the demand for downtown parking, or create educational zones that would incorporate classrooms, libraries, science centers, and museums. I’m leaning more toward giant water slides and indoor hot-air balloons. I also think we’ll leave a few buildings empty, because we could all use a little more storage space.

Some of the money we save will be set aside to pay teachers better wages. Then maybe they won’t have to take night jobs waiting tables at a local restaurant. This will give them more energy for actual teaching, as well as save them the embarrassment of having to ask their own students if the chicken fingers are cooked okay, and if they’d like another root beer. Higher salaries would mean more of the best teachers could afford to stay in the profession, and only the top candidates would be hired for new openings. Eventually, our schools would be filled with young people who know how to spell and do long division, because they’d have teachers who know how to do those things.

These plans create new challenges, of course, and new questions to be answered. Should I maintain a headquarters on each continent? Do I still have to pay for office supplies, or does the ruler of the world get free stuff? Can we design buses and stretch limousines that meet the all-rubber requirements without bending in the middle?

I’ll need a team of advisers to help me work through the details. But first things first: A celebrity couple is breaking up. Opportunity knocks, and who knows? Maybe I’ll actually sleep tonight.

Something I forgot!

This post was inspired in part by an essay written by fellow blogger Iced Tea with Lemon. Her ideas are much more serious and thoughtful than mine, and would actually change things for the better.

Please read it!

Posted in: In Over My Head