Friday, February 17, 2006

Bad drivers

Citizen of the month had an old post about how awful older drivers are. I want to tell you, you don't have to be old to be a rotten driver. My mother and both her brothers were born that way.

My aunt and one of my cousins were shopping when they were almost run over by a driverless car. It was my mother. My mother was really short and she had to crane her neck to see over the steering wheel.

When she was younger, she used to drive really fast, because she was always in a hurry. My uncle used to call her car "Goldie's airplane." She got in a couple of fender benders and realized she had to change her ways: so she drove really, really, excruciatingly slow. At least no-one got killed that way. My mother never parked her car--she abandoned it, more or less at the curb. If the car was on the right side of the street, that was enough. Why be a perfectionist?

My Uncle Abe had a devil-may-care approach. If he wanted to change lanes, he put on his turn signal and did it. Looking to see if anyone was in said lane was for sissies. He didn't like to drive, and usually had a friend or hanger-on to take him where he wanted to go. My aunt finally took over and ended his driving career. He, also, never killed anybody, but that was sheer good luck.

My Uncle Max, on the other hand, was slow and cautious. He was a trend-setter--the first person in the US to go 25 mph in the left hand lane. He also wore a hat, which is mandatory for slow-left-laners.

My brother, who had occasion to ride with all of the above, is a nervous wreck. He also drives s-l-o-w-l-y and has been known to stop dead in the middle of traffic to holler at his three manic kids. For a while, he wore a crash helmet while driving, but we shamed him out of it. He is also a terrible passenger, shouting, "Oh, my God" at the least, or no provocation. Once I was driving on the New Jersey Turnpike, taking him to the airport, and his cries of alarm were so loud that I suggested that he get out of the car and hitchhike.

Fortunately, I take after my father's side of the family. My father, at the age of 93, used to drive up to Connecticut every other week to visit his girlfriend. He's 94 now, and remarried. But my Uncle Ed, his brother, just gave up his car a year ago, at 97, when he went into assisted living.

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