Why I don’t (gasp) like to drive…


Living in the US and not driving a car ( even just a claim about not absolutely loving to drive), one gets relegated as socially inept, dependent and some form of handicapped, a major form at that ( unless you are from New York City, where all kinds of social ineptitude are forgiven and driving, in particular, is not essential).

Driving being a sign of independence ( I am 16 and I can now drive anywhere I want, yoo hoo!!) and cars being a true signature of self, be it a ‘environment- friendly’ Prius, a ‘macho’ monster truck, an ‘elegant’ Lexus/Cadillac or the truly rich, chic and well endowed convertible.  I am sorry if I don’t really know the real significance and appear to be naive on the real significance of the cars and for obviously missing everyone’s favorite sports cars and sports sedans and of course the SUVS.

It is strange to me, I always considered myself to be somewhat independent. So how is it that I dislike something that is such an underscoring factor FOR independence. Okay, even if that is only in the US, but surely, independence does not change definitions as country lines are crossed.

Or does it.

Of course it does, dummy, I say to myself. Trying to fend of the ever growing cloud of  certainty that it doesn’t, not really, and I am a coward and a pussy with absolutely no idea of how to make a statement about being independent, liberal and nature loving, lacking the essential car bumper to do so.  Also, can almost certainly not go to any grocery store meant for the nature loving- healthy-eating kinds. The quip ‘ you can’t even drive?’ being considered far worse than ” you don’t read? Anything?” – the one thing I considered to be mortifying, all my life.

‘Share the road with bicyclists and the motor cyclists’. Post script: not present in quotes, are the ‘meth smokers’, ‘alcoholics’, ‘drunk’, ‘drug addicts or high- for the first time’, ‘half asleep’, ‘fully asleep’ and basically people who cannot make up their minds about what is left. PPS: Don’t forget the newly independent teenagers.

Yes, be independent, it’s a free country, so show them who owns the road, just like they are trying to show you. Forget all the people ‘dependent’ on public transport living in most other countries of the world and concentrate on de-icing your windshield. As Calvin’s dad always said ‘ De-icing builds character’ ( no, he didn’t).

Also forget the fact that  a teenager and the early tweenager  has a high chance of dying in a car accident (http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/usa-cause-of-death-by-age-and-gender) , taking you and your independent streak with him or her and all the unfulfilled dreams they were driving towards. I don’t know, I think independence and responsibility are so entwined that separating them can only lead to road rage, sorry, road accidents, err, sorry- fatal errors.

So as the twenty year old Toyota Camry cuts you off at an intersection on 75 and then decides to slow down and swerve to avoid the lone armadillo in the sky facing missionary position, now no doubt in god’s arms ( well, if he had a soul, he would be) and remain in your lane at the same time, while you are politely maintaining speed limit at 70 mph, and the fully loaded Hummer fuming parallel to you, is going at 110 and trying to snake its way in between you and the Wal-mart Truck (that hoots its air horns just  for fun), in front of it, imagine a half- asleep driver, -because- of- no- sleep- for- the- past- 12 hrs- in the road trip to Yellow stone from New York, with 5 other teenagers right behind you, in a jalopy with proportionately aged brakes. When you can actually read what the sticker on the bumper of the car in front says -Jesus Loves you, you think, He better. Incidentally, a Miley Cyrus song wakes up the teenaged driver who witnessed her twerking and wants to beat his (sleepy) navigator who is attempting  turning the volume up with his eyes closed, to possibly change channels to something playing actual music ( he is the responsible one, has taste, and yes, he picked the destination). He doesn’t read anything on your bumper, it’s something about Big Brother is watching you, but does step on his brakes on time. No one right behind him either.  All is well in this best of all possible worlds.  No, wait another three minutes for the blonde in the convertible….

I would really call for trains and buses, sure it makes you dependent on that driver, but trains have tracks that other trains can’t take at the same time, and buses are bigger. Plus the driver is what you may call, actually trained in the profession of driving and probably not showing up drunk at work. I especially call for more school buses and city buses and all kinds of other buses so that teenagers can be safe, from themselves AND help doing groceries from the Whole Food’s 25 miles away. Sure flights are expensive and I personally don’t like them, but their discomfort cannot hold  a candle to 20 hr road trips.  But then buses are not suitable for such long trips and how can there be trains connecting every major city in every state? Is that even possible? mmmm.. yes. Even in India. (Just think of the jobs created to build the railways and maintenance…. the actual independence of families from food stamps that could bring. Naahhh…. we hate public/ government things. Yet want it to have our privacy as cake. We love oil companies, car dealers and manufacturers and what would happen to the bumper sticker market?)

Sure, I really don’t know what it FEELS to actually OWN something that runs on fuel, but I really would not like to take my chances on that high heeled blonde ( pun intended and have you tried driving with heels on??), texting and fixing her hair at the same time, in her newly expropriated red convertible (dad’s). While also managing to coo at her chihuahua enfolded carefully in a Balenciaga bag. Whatever her faults, I wouldn’t want to take the responsibility for her undergoing yet another cosmetic surgery! Besides,  she is right to be frustrated with the young couple, in a two door civic, in front of her aiming to see all the national heritage sites on Route 66 and only slowly realizing that often those signs pointing upwards towards the next heritage site, actually mean left, not right .

I would prefer to sleep in the stinky bus, thank you very much and spare the miles and miles of gas ( preventing wars, while I am at it). Notice I did not even get a chance to mention what happens when the car breaks down and the world stands still holding its breath, or when your fellow drivers have dogs and children as attention seeking passengers ( a chihuahua while morbidly cute is not a dog), …..I seriously don’t think that whoever said ‘ life is a journey, not a destination’ meant spending 3 hrs on the commute to work on I-95.
If you really like the view, you are probably not driving.


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