Sitting in the dentist's office this week, I watched the elderly in the waiting room with me. Over and over, as their names were called, the receptionist would have to call their names louder or even walk over to tap them on the shoulder to get their attention. Moving slowly, misunderstanding the rhythm of the office, I wondered if they were getting behind the wheel in this condition.
They were indeed.
I've purposefully watched as older folks sit for too long at green lights, turn directly in the path of another car after stopping at a red light and driving well below the posted speed limit. How are there not more accidents?
I drive like a maniac. Well, I drive a lot better since someone called my office complaining about my driving a couple of years ago. (Think about that next time you're inclined to put your phone number on your vehicle!) Traffic here moves fast or it doesn't move at all. It is normal to travel at 80 mph as a matter of course. I don't use my blinkers. I know! But, people here just don't. The decision between click the blinker or hold the phone... the phone always wins.
So, if someone with slowed reflexes drives 45 mph, you can imagine the hazard that can be.
Instead of beating up on elderly drivers, I wonder about myself as I get older. Will I drive 45 mph? Will I need someone to retrieve me from the waiting room because I can't hear what anyone is saying? Will I ever be old enough for this to be an issue?
My mom, god love her, drove like I did when I was growing up. An emotional driver, I had to have learned from her how to use the car as a means to express anger, frustration, happiness or sadness. I've driven crying hundreds of times. Not just a tear here or there, but snotty buckets of tears that required dozens of pulls from the Kleenex box I keep next to me. Isn't this a not great way to drive either? Mom did the same thing. I can see her even now, crying, singing When I Need You by Leo Sayer and narrowly missing that bike rider who rode on the street instead of the sidewalk.
One of my daughters rode with Grandma when we were home last Thanksgiving and she begged me not to make her ride with her ever again. My mom got lost for over an hour, played gangster rap music at full blast (she is the whitest woman on the face of the earth) and yacked the whole time saying how she never gets lost, how she thought she knew the way, how terrible all the other drivers were. Stifling a laugh, I told my child that she'd been like that when I was growing up, too, except substitute the Rolling Stones for rap. I told her we always had to leave with plenty of time to spare because she frequently got lost. Blinking, my daughter said, "How could you do that?" I told her I was a child and at her mercy! I didn't think to warn her of Grandma's driving habits.
Imagining my crazily driving mom in another 20 years is scary!
I wonder if my grandchildren will also beg not to have to drive with their grandma.
Maybe I should slow down. And use a little more of those blinkers.