Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Crone Driving Complaints

I just drove from my daughter’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to our home in Grafton, MA – a 180-mile, 3 ½-hour drive that I make (usually round trip) at least once a month. Sometimes I do it alone, other times, like today, I share the driving with my husband.
Every time I complete the drive — especially by myself -- I’m inordinately proud of the feat. Because I lived in Manhattan for 14 years, I didn’t even get my driver’s license until I was 36 years old, pregnant with our third child and living in the countryside of Massachusetts. (Actually I drove from age 15 to 18 in Minnesota when I was in high school and then quit when I went to college, so had to take driver’s training all over again 18 years later.)

When I got my second driver’s license —pregnant and 36— I tried to avoid ever getting on a main highway, much less driving out of state. But I had to transport the kids to school and on play dates, and eventually I expanded my repertoire.

The drive from Manhattan to Grafton MA is really not bad —up to 96th Street, over to the FDR Drive, over the Triboro (now Robert F. Kennedy) Bridge, then eventually on to the Parkways— Hutchison and Merritt--where commercial vehicles are forbidden, thank God. This is the scenic part —full of wild turkeys and deer and a lot of charming bridges, none of which is identical —like snowflakes.

Then, just before Hartford, I get back on I-91, whether the trucks abound, dwarfing my little Prius. (Those huge double-decker auto carriers seem to rock back and forth because their center of gravity is so high—and I always think they’ll topple over, squashing me like a bug.)

At exit 29, with Hartford in view, I turn off onto I- 84 which is a really boring hour-long stretch until I pick up the Mass Pike at Sturbridge and know I’m only 20 minutes from home.

While driving, I have plenty of time to think about some of the minor annoyances encountered on the road —especially for a crone who is a rather tentative and fearful driver. (Let me say here that in the past 34 years, I’ve never had a speeding ticket and never been in an accident when I was at the wheel --knock on wood! My insurance company ranks me as the safest driver in the family.)

Here are thoughts that passed through my idle mind today as I was driving —not complaints, actually, just observations.

--Have you ever noticed that when some idiot is weaving in and out, speeding like crazy or hanging on your bumper in the silver lane because he thinks you should go faster than 75-- it’s often someone in a red car or red flat-bed truck?

--And when some centenarian ahead of you is going so slowly that you are forced to pass them, it’s often someone in a white or black car? Who is barely tall enough to see over the steering wheel.

--And when you’re trying to merge into a speedy flow of traffic, when someone finally does slow down and wave you in, have you noticed that it’s inevitably a woman?

--But when you’re in the left-hand lane and signal that you want to move to the right lane (because your exit is coming up), most men will immediately speed up upon seeing your turn signal, blocking you and making it impossible for you to change lanes.

--And then, when you discover that there is a long line of cars waiting to turn off at your exit , and you’re sitting patiently in line practicing your deep breathing exercises, some people have no scruples about jumping the line, speeding up to the front and then forcing their way onto the exit ramp, who do you think those line jumpers are? (Hint, I’m married to one. My blue Prius blushes pink every time he does this.)

--And one more observation —who do you think is more likely to jump the queue at the gas station, forget to put the cap back on the gas tank, and neglect to take the receipt for the gas? No hints here.

My kids and my husband think I’m a lousy driver because I frequently move my foot from the accelerator to the brake pedal and never drive over 80 miles per hour (or under the speed limit), but my Prius and my insurance company like my driving just fine. And every time I complete the trek from Manhattan to home I tell myself, “You’ve come a long way, Baby!”

No comments: