Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I used to drive way too fast. I admitted to having a lead foot - I would make multi-hour drives on a regular basis when I was doing Regional Theatre, back and forth to home, always drafting the speediest cars, sometimes doing 90 on long stretches of flat road. Since I started taking my son with me in my vehicle, however, I've become the grandma-i-est grandma that ever sat behind the wheel. (No offense if your grandma is some kind of NASCAR wannabe.)

It's only when you become a parent that you realize what assholes other drivers can be. Every single time I drive somewhere, I think, "How did I never notice that the rest of the world drives like crap?" We were on the Beltway today, and it was a chaotic symphony of speed demons, passers-on-the-right, tailgaters, and no-turn-signal-using morons.

I try to drive the speed limit, avoid "wolf packs" (my Driver's Ed teacher's term for bunches of cars driving too close together), use my signal religiously, and make space for people in front of me when they use theirs. I never thought I was unique in this; isn't that how we're all supposed to drive? But the overwhelming lack of courtesy shown by many, many other drivers has only become that much more abundantly clear to me since I began commuting with my Precious Cargo. If I see someone else driving as carefully as I, it's 10-to-1 odds they have a kid in the back.

What the hell, America? I know this doesn't just happen in DC. Who is teaching these people to drive, and more importantly, who do they think they are, that none of the rules of the road apply to them? Now, granted, they're probably saying something similar about me, as I creep along at the posted limit in the right lane, like I'm carrying the Ark of the Covenant. But I would like for my son and I to make it to our destination unharmed, thank you very much.

Sigh. I actually do remember the carefree, pre-Munchkin days. Exhausted and zooming down 95 with a Red Bull on the dash (though I used to live on them, I gave them up before we started trying to get pregnant, and the thought of one now makes me gag), carefully texting (yes, omg) as I tried to make it from city to city in record time... I drove like one of these idiots. Thank god nothing horrifying ever happened to me. I was so lucky.

What I was thinking then was, "Oh, I can bend the rules. I'm more careful/smarter/a better driver than the rest of the people around me. Nothing bad will happen to me." Now, what I think is, "Please god don't let me cross paths with one of these jerks who drive like I used to."

I wonder about the cars my son will drive - will they have radio waves that disable texting while driving? Who am I kidding - texting will sooooooo be a thing of the past, Mom. What other dangers await him? "Thinking" messages to other teenagers while the automated car takes him from place to place? Then again, we're only talking 16 years from now, in 2028; my Toyota may still be running then... a perfect ancient car for a new-driving teen...

Whatever the traffic patterns of the future, one thing's for sure; road rage will probably still exist. Drivers getting pissed off at each other for ignoring posted signs, snaking through closely-paced vehicles like embiciles, cutting each other off, and a host of other offenses. We'll all still be yelling at each other from the safety of our metal cocoons, giving each other the finger under the window ledge (or in the open), letting our blood boil over slights real and imagined, until it affects our own vehicular control.

My sister and her husband have a great way of calming their tempers when someone speeds by them like a jerk: they say to each other, "Oh, they must be much more important than we are," in a tone both mocking and ingenuous, and don't let it get to them. I'm going to try to start practicing this. Unless I find a way to combat the frustration I feel at the crazy motorists I encounter on a daily basis, it's only a matter of time before the Munchkin starts to pick up on it. And starts repeating what I say. Until one day, I hear a tiny parrot from the backseat, saying, "HAHAHA! LOOK WHERE YOU GOING, ASSHOLE!"

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