When I first learned to drive, my dad would remind me to be aware of everything that was going on around me. It was, he said, for my own safety and also for the safety of those around me. Driving was different back then. For example, when you saw someone coming up behind you on the highway, you realized they wanted to get by you, and you obliged them. The courtesy was acknowledged back and forth with waves from both cars: “Hey, you’re in a hurry, please go ahead of me.” “Thanks–I appreciate it!” And you both went happily on your way.
Same thing with backing out of a parking space. When you drove into a parking lot and saw that someone ahead of you was backing up, you stopped and let them back up and go. You both exchanged a friendly wave–the previous parker went on his way, and you got to take his spot. Done and done, both drivers happy.
If you happened to drive home late at night, you did not blare your radio, honk the horn or screech your tires while driving through a neighborhood. People were getting ready for bed or were already were in bed. It was considered both rude and selfish to disturb them.
If a young person did something careless which caused a possible danger to themselves (or to someone else), it always got back to the parents. Back then when towns were truly a family community, you all watched out for each other. So if you saw your neighbor’s kid tailgating a bus, you made sure the parents knew about it. And generally those parents were glad you told them, and then took care of the problem at home. There was none of this “MY kid would NEVER do that! How dare you accuse my kid! I’ll sue you!” They made sure that the offending kid understood the danger he might have caused to himself or others.
But those were different times. Today I often feel I’m taking my life in my hands driving somewhere. When did it become ok to do and accept as normal the following:
- Tear out of a side street inches in front of an oncoming car
- Take sudden turns without using a directional signal
- Back out of a parking space without so much as looking first (even if your car has a rear-view camera)
- Rudely cutting off people in traffic
- Honking repeatedly for any little thing
- Swerving into someone else’s lane, then acting as if the other person is the jerk
- Yelling and screaming at someone to move, move, MOVE
- Road rage; often deadly
- Racing cars on a public road
When did this become ok? How in the heck did we all get so dang impatient? Call it ‘road rage’ or just pure selfishness, but who does it serve to act that way? These days I feel as though I am putting my life at risk each time I get on the highway. What’s the big hurry? For some, it’s just a faster race to the grave. There’s a whole lot of stupidity out there, and sadly, it doesn’t look like it’s leaving any time soon….or it could just be that I’m older and crabby.
Take care of yourselves out there, and keep your eyes open.