Hey Lady! (a rant)

I think I can see the top of your head over the steering wheel. I know I can see your handi-capped sticker hanging from the rear-view window. Neither of these things alone concern me. What does concern me is the fact you came out of the grocery store parking lot and pulled right in front of me, going clear into the other lane where an on-coming van almost hit you, then proceeded to swerve back and forth along the center line for the next two blocks as if aligning for a landing. I wrote down your license plate, but you turned and went out of sight and I could only hope you weren't heading out to the highway.

I realize older people want to be mobile. I realize they want to have that independence. But not at the risk of killing everyone around them.

Hear me, kids? Put that on your list of "if I get that way you can take me out in the road and shoot me"…

Published by


Middle-aged. Anti-social. Mom. Grandma. Town-raised farmer's wife. Iowan. Want more? Come read the blogs.

4 thoughts on “Hey Lady! (a rant)”

  1. What a painful subject that weighs heavy on my mind. I can now relate as I see myself edging towards that near final loss of freedom that tells me I am not long for this world. That I no longer fit in, that I am cast off and culled from the herd. The day that I am no longer able to legally drive. The day I stop driving will be the day the world moves on without me, and that time is much closer than I care to imagine. Already sporting three cataracts and constantly deteriorating visual acuity, there will come a day soon when my driving priveledges will be revoked. At least they should be.
    I have been driving since I was a young boy. I know that dominating rules and laws in our society frown on adolescent operation of motor vehicles, but I grew up around rule breakers and independent thinkers. I drove a flatbed pick-up truck every morning picking up trash in a nudist colony one summer when I was eight years old. I won’t go into how a nudist camp puts a whole new perspective on the ‘crack of dawn’ but working that summer allowed me to save enough money to buy my own Husqvarna motorcycle, a well made bike that answers the often asked question “ Why does the Swedish military need a weapons factory?” the answer obviously being “Well, to manufacture artisan V-twin motorcycle engines of course.” At least they did back in my youth. I would sometimes daydream of a diabolical plot where Swedes presented to the world a weapons manufacturing plant as a cover for making motorcycles that was actually a cover for making weapons to fill the demand of their top secret plan to conquer the world with a Viking Cavalry crossing the ocean armed with maces swords and muskets mounted on noisy dirt bikes. I know; those treacherous conniving Swedes, all smiley, blonde, and posing for swimsuit editions, you can’t turn your back on them for a minute. Send me an army comprised of Malin Anderson, Ulrika Ericsson, Adina Fohlin, and Victoria Silvstedt and I’ll gladly surrender.
    Yes I have wandered off the subject, yet another sign of impending senility. My father was a Driver. I don’t just mean he was a licensed operator granted the privilege to motor about freely on our great highways. He was a driver by title and definition. There was not a vehicle he could not operate. If it rolled over the ground, he could (and probably did) drive it at one time or another. Trucks, Busses, Racecars, Tanks, Heavy Equipment, Taxicabs, Ambulances, Fire Engines, Hearst’s, Motorcycles, Clydesdale drawn Wagons, you name it, he drove it at one time or another. When it came time to revoke his driving privileges we couldn’t do it. We tried. My brother refused to ride with him (but he did on occasion) and I decided I would rather go up in a ball of flaming metallic goo than take Dad’s vehicle from him, and continued to climb into the passenger side of his car even if it was under duress. I found myself making excuses for taking my own vehicle to dinner when Dad would offer to swing by and pick me up. Dale and I joined forces and debated futilely the merits of mass transit, and the disadvantages of owning ones own car. I watched Dad back out of the carport and take out the mailbox, the aluminum siding of the house, the carport support beam. I saw him pull into a parking space and lurch forward into the concrete lamppost in front of him. I saw my Dad negotiate an impossible right turn onto a freeway egress from a city street. Fortunately it became an elaborate U-turn and there were no injuries deaths or premature babies as a result of his action, but it made my heart skip a beat or two. I noticed how his center of the lane progressed more and more into the center of the street and yet the best I could accomplish was to convince Dad we should leave it to the wise authority of the DMV. Remarkably he passed each and every one of his driving tests mandated by the state of Schwarzenegger.
    I don’t want to be that person, that Mr. Magoo terrorizing the highways and byways of our great nation, or my immediate neighborhood for that matter. I don’t want to be the old man that drives through a parking barricade into a children’s carnival because I momentarily lost control of my vehicle. I want to be logical and compassionate for others and step down when the moment comes for me to honestly admit it is time to relinquish my right to drive. I want to, but will I? Will I have the strength? Will I still have the logic process (never really my strong point) to figure out for myself that I no longer have the facilities to manipulate through traffic? Or will my old man logic fuzz over like the drunk driver who knows that no one should imbibe and drive until he alters his perception with just one more drink?
    Will I be able to relinquish my driving addiction when the time comes? I pray I will.

  2. I hear all of you.

    I live in Florida. We have no end of such situations on a daily basis.

    Me, I may leave the house in fine shape to drive, but sometimes get too sick or tired to safely drive back. I’ve been known to ditch the car then, and get a friend or a cab to run me home. So I hope I’ll do the same if old age is what prompts me to see I’m an unsafe driver.

    My grandfather almost killed my grandmother, doing that. Twice. The first accident, among many other injuries, left her with a permanent steel rod in her broken arm, and him recuperating in a wheelchair for 18 months. He celebrated leaving the chair behind by driving again. The second terrible accident was only 6 weeks after that.

    Both times, he mistook the brakes for the gas. That’s how we get the older folks driving into buildings all the time in Florida.

    The second time, Grandma did something very rare for her, and defied him. She tore up his driver’s license.

    She did the right thing.

    It’s not that I have no sympathy for the loss of mobility. I know all about that from first-hand experience. It’s just that driving is NOT a *right.* It’s something a person must be qualified to do, because of the risk to the safety of innocent bystanders.

    So when it’s time, do the right thing. If you find out the hard way – say, by accidentally killing not just strangers but someone you love – it’ll hurt far worse than losing your mobility would.

    I’m not without empathy on this subject. I’m also adamant that older (or any) drivers who can’t drive safely should stop driving. Even if they pass their tests. Frankly, most of them know, deep down inside, that they are no longer safe. Continuing to drive then is pure selfishness. Harsh, I know. But it’s true.

    In Florida, they don’t even have to TAKE tests. They can renew by mail every 6 years. Trying to legislate changes for safety is politically disastrous. That makes me angry.

    See, those unsafe drivers aren’t just putting themselves at risk. They could kill my nephew instead. I find that hard to forgive, because he’s a truly good young man with a wonderful life ahead of him.

    I don’t want them to steal his future life, just for the sake of softening the reality at the end of theirs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Security Code: