I understand that times have changed – really, I do. “Back in my day,” is a term that we use with giggles and winks at my house imitating those who can’t seem to move past those “good ole days.” But seriously, back in my day driving a car was a totally different experience than today.
Not only are there more people on the road today than back in my day (statistically that’s true), but in addition to controlling tons of metal as it careens down the highway both drivers and pedestrians of today are dealing with texts and cellphone calls not only being received but being sent as well.
Notice that I mention pedestrians, too. There is a reason for this.
But I digress. Let me tell you a little about the drivers in my family.
Between the four boys there is some grudging admiration, but for the most part they criticize and kid each other on their driving abilities. “Too slow,” “too fast” and “I’m never driving with him again!” are the common maladies heard. I’ve driven with all four and aside from a few white knuckler incidents; I think they’re doing pretty okay. Not great, but okay.
Then of course there’s dad.
A former reserve police officer and a current volunteer with the sheriff’s department, Steve has ridden with all types of drivers and seen all types of drivers. He is very observant and gets rather cranky when people don’t drive to his standards. Although he doesn’t lay on the horn as frequently (or enthusiastically) as his children, he isn’t above commenting on just about everybody on the road. Everybody.
As you can imagine, this can be very tiring and quite often I remind him that a) other drivers can’t hear you and b) it is grating on the nerves of his passengers. To his credit he tries to listen to me and to quit complaining about his fellow drivers, but is usually not too successful.
And then I had, as Oprah would say, an ‘Aha’ moment.
The other afternoon, he and I were travelling north on Pennsylvania. At Altura there is a traffic light. If you remember, that light was installed because a young girl was killed while crossing the busy avenue several years ago. As we sat at the red light just as it was about to change, a young gal walking her dog and talking on her cellphone stepped off the curb to cross eastbound. Now remember how wide Pennsylvania is. And the girl steps off the curb as her light is turning red. The truck in front of us continues to wait; the car to our right goes on its way, clearing a path for northbound traffic that has no idea why we are stopped. And as we watch in horror, a car on our right quickly approached, ready to enter the intersection on the green light. The dog is on a leash walking in front of the girl and she is on the cellphone totally unconcerned that she is about to walk into oncoming traffic. It was by the grace of God that neither she nor her pup were killed. You want to know something else? She didn’t blink. The whole thing didn’t seem to faze her at all.
And in case I thought this utter stupidity was limited to the young, I was driving north on Ramsdell the following day. I was stopped at Montrose Avenue and that light is so strange; if the east/west Montrose Avenue signal doesn’t ‘see’ you, it will change from green to yellow back to green again. So, when you get the light going north or southbound on Ramsdell, you’d better move.
Well, just as my light changed from red to green, two old ladies stepped off the curb heading eastbound, crossing directly into my path. They were talking to each other, totally oblivious to me sitting there. What the heck?
So I publicly apologize to husband Steve – not only do I understand your frustration – I absolutely share it!