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Lenore Hirsch

Lenore Hirsch

Do any of these sound familiar? “I drive just fine.” “My vision is as good as when I was 18.” “I’m fine but other drivers are in too much of a hurry.” Regardless of what we say, we all know in our guts and have probably been reminded by auto insurance companies, family members and those brave enough to be our passengers, that we’re just not the sharp, alert drivers we used to be. I know I always look behind me and on both sides before backing out of a parking spot. So where did that car come from that I just backed into? I always shift into park before getting out, so why am I standing here in the garage watching the car with dog on board rolling out into the street? Some people hold on for dear life when I’m at the wheel but I’m sure that’s their problem — it’s a control issue. All the traffic tickets I’ve received, once every few years, have been for silly things, like driving with the flow of traffic, even though that was well over the speed limit. I once went to court to try to fight a speeding ticket. I said to the judge, “The only difference between the other drivers on that freeway and me was that I didn’t see the cop and slow down!” The cute judge smiled and responded rather curtly, “Do you want to pay the fine, ma’am?” It’s frustrating that at a time when my self-propulsion has slowed to a crawl, I can’t even enjoy the sensation of speed when driving. I recently took my car to the body shop to have the smashed rear bumper replaced. The dealer says, “You know those fuel efficiency/drive in the carpool lane stickers are going to disappear with the old bumper.” “I only put two on and saved a pair, just in case,” I say. That’s because when I replaced the bumper on the last car, the DMV didn’t take my word for it that the old stickers had been destroyed. I had to get the repair shop to write a letter to get replacements. That was just a few years ago, but I had totally forgotten about it. I guess I’m more forgetful than I used to be. Even when we’re not talking on a cellphone or changing the radio station, scientists, who are always right, say our reaction times are getting slower every day. The eye doctor says our night vision will keep going downhill and we haven’t seen 20/20 for years. We may think the rest of the world — that is the younger portion — is in too much of a hurry. My dad liked to drive in the fast lane and use fingers to sign the speed limit to the angry drivers passing him on the right. That is, two high-fives for 55. I’ve been known to do this myself, but am inclined to use a different form of finger signal. It’s especially annoying when I’m going to be making a left turn in a mile and I don’t want to move to the right and then have to get back in the left lane. Let the guy behind me creep up on my bumper and blow his horn. He has two choices: wait or go around me. Have you ever entered the freeway behind a car going 40 in the slow lane? You can bet it’s either a young person whose vehicle is about to collapse or a little old person who can barely see over the steering wheel and thinks he’s being safe; au contraire, mes amis. There ought to be laws against driving too slow … oops! There are laws against driving too slow. The time will come when we all have to stop driving. I’ve watched two men go through this transition, and I saw the pain etched into their wrinkled brows. The saintly forfeit their licenses voluntarily, knowing in their guts that it’s the right thing to do. The rest of us argue and complain until some family member hides the keys or sells the car. Better that a family member does the deed than a judge after some terrible mishap. Instead of seeing the end of driving as another nail in our coffin, perhaps we could work on seeing it as rising to some elevated status where like a king or queen, we have drivers to take us places, while we relax in the back seat: Driving Miss (insert your name). Or four strong men to carry us on a gold and velvet litter. “Jeeves, take me to the market, no, the movie theater first. Then wait for me.”

Do any of these sound familiar? “I drive just fine.” “My vision is as good as when I was 18.” “I’m fine but other drivers are in too much of a hurry.”

Regardless of what we say, we all know in our guts and have probably been reminded by auto insurance companies, family members and those brave enough to be our passengers, that we’re just not the sharp, alert drivers we used to be. I know I always look behind me and on both sides before backing out of a parking spot. So where did that car come from that I just backed into? I always shift into park before getting out, so why am I standing here in the garage watching the car with dog on board rolling out into the street?

Some people hold on for dear life when I’m at the wheel but I’m sure that’s their problem — it’s a control issue. All the traffic tickets I’ve received, once every few years, have been for silly things, like driving with the flow of traffic, even though that was well over the speed limit.

I once went to court to try to fight a speeding ticket. I said to the judge, “The only difference between the other drivers on that freeway and me was that I didn’t see the cop and slow down!”

The cute judge smiled and responded rather curtly, “Do you want to pay the fine, ma’am?” It’s frustrating that at a time when my self-propulsion has slowed to a crawl, I can’t even enjoy the sensation of speed when driving.

I recently took my car to the body shop to have the smashed rear bumper replaced. The dealer says, “You know those fuel efficiency/drive in the carpool lane stickers are going to disappear with the old bumper.”

“I only put two on and saved a pair, just in case,” I say. That’s because when I replaced the bumper on the last car, the DMV didn’t take my word for it that the old stickers had been destroyed. I had to get the repair shop to write a letter to get replacements. That was just a few years ago, but I had totally forgotten about it.

I guess I’m more forgetful than I used to be. Even when we’re not talking on a cellphone or changing the radio station, scientists, who are always right, say our reaction times are getting slower every day. The eye doctor says our night vision will keep going downhill and we haven’t seen 20/20 for years.

We may think the rest of the world — that is the younger portion — is in too much of a hurry. My dad liked to drive in the fast lane and use fingers to sign the speed limit to the angry drivers passing him on the right. That is, two high-fives for 55. I’ve been known to do this myself, but am inclined to use a different form of finger signal. It’s especially annoying when I’m going to be making a left turn in a mile and I don’t want to move to the right and then have to get back in the left lane. Let the guy behind me creep up on my bumper and blow his horn. He has two choices: wait or go around me.

Have you ever entered the freeway behind a car going 40 in the slow lane? You can bet it’s either a young person whose vehicle is about to collapse or a little old person who can barely see over the steering wheel and thinks he’s being safe; au contraire, mes amis. There ought to be laws against driving too slow … oops! There are laws against driving too slow.

The time will come when we all have to stop driving. I’ve watched two men go through this transition, and I saw the pain etched into their wrinkled brows. The saintly forfeit their licenses voluntarily, knowing in their guts that it’s the right thing to do. The rest of us argue and complain until some family member hides the keys or sells the car. Better that a family member does the deed than a judge after some terrible mishap.

Instead of seeing the end of driving as another nail in our coffin, perhaps we could work on seeing it as rising to some elevated status where like a king or queen, we have drivers to take us places, while we relax in the back seat: Driving Miss (insert your name). Or four strong men to carry us on a gold and velvet litter. “Jeeves, take me to the market, no, the movie theater first. Then wait for me.”

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Send your comments or stories to lenore@lenorehirsch.com.

Send your comments or stories to lenore@lenorehirsch.com.

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