Driving Miss Crazy

Not all bad drivers wear hats, but apparently everyone wearing a hat is a bad driver. If I get behind somebody going 15 miles under the speed limit, I can just about be sure that there will be a fedora involved.

My grandma never learned to drive, but lack of license never stopped her from telling other people what to do. My grandpa, Matti was stiff enough that he could barely turn his head, and he couldn’t cross his arms to crank the wheel. This necessitated a cruising speed of about 5 MPH for every curve in the road, while Matti played slow motion tug-of-war with the steering wheel. He always wore his hat.

It was Grandma’s job to watch for traffic at the two crossroads in their town of 400 residents—dogs included. On those rare occasions when we went to the tourist town of Ilwaco, she also had to announce the color of the only traffic light in town.

“Green for us, Matti. All clear this way, Matti.”

Lately, my family and friends have had the nerve to complain about my driving. They know that I will drive right past shopping malls, gas stations and restaurants on the left side of the road so I won’t have to turn against traffic. If I do take a left, I’ll wait up to twenty minutes until the oncoming traffic is a speck on the horizon before turning. If the emergency room is on the left side, keep applying pressure to the wound. I have stopped in the middle of the road before because I was thinking.

I had surgery on the cervical region of my spine years ago, and frequently get a stiff neck. When making a head check before changing lanes, I have to twist at the waist. An upper body check means that the wheel turns along with the rest of me, so I have to time my glance just right. I line up on the far side of the lane from the direction I’m twisting, prepare my peripheral vision, and turn my body with the grace and agility of Gerald Ford.

Sixty miles per hour seems a lot faster than it used to. I feel a mild panic as I’m accelerating up to the speed limit.

  • Fifty feels pretty darn fast
  • Fifty-five and the trees are rushing by in a blur
  • Any faster than that and I’m entering hyper-drive on the Millenium Falcon

I’ll admit that I’m driving a little more cautiously than I used to, but I’m only wearing the hat because my grey roots need touching up.