Driving Miss Crazy II: Keeping It in the Family
I am a cautious driver. The fact that I survived three major car accidents pushed me over to the right lane of life. This caution might amplify what I perceive as recklessness in others. As a passenger, the handle above the passenger side window is my best friend. My fingers have left their impression in many a car. You could easily lift my fingerprints off the handle of my ex-wife’s car. Recently, however, if the Pennsylvania police need a clean impression, there is a fresh set on the handle of my sister’s SUBARU.
Turns out, driving with my ex-wife was like taking a vacation.
There are a few things that my sister, Diane, does while driving; none of them sanctioned by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
In the last year or so I’ve had the opportunity to take long drives with my sister. Not anything like the trip she took with my brother, Joe, a while back. I’m not at liberty to discuss what either said about the other during that journey (sort of like confession, without the benefit of absolution).
No, mine were shorter, terrifying bursts, like a roller coaster, always threatening to derail. With music.
The first action she takes is to plug her iPhone into the car, so her music will come out through the speakers. Thousands of people do that a day. Pretty sure, though, once those people start their selections, they leave the iPhone alone. In the middle of our drive, heaven help me (literally, if you are listening, help me), if I nonchalantly ask, ‘What song is this?’ it triggers her lunge for the phone, reading the details of who wrote it, sang it, and what album it was from while cruising at a frightening eighty-five miles an hour.
Then there’s the dancing.
Maybe it’s her form of Jazzercise to keep in shape; just wish she didn’t do it with me in the car. Granted, I’ve tapped a steering wheel, or two, when an Art Garfunkel song shows up, but that’s it. Diane displays full-blown, choreographed, Debbie Allen hit-you-with-a-cane-till-you-get-it-right, moves.
During these routines, I stare out the car door window; a simple house cat yearning to be free.
After a visit with her son, Jack, who lives in Brooklyn, we cruised Route 80 on our way back to her house. For certain reasons, I hate Route 80, both as driver and passenger. It curves too often, rises and falls between ‘Beware of Falling Rocks’ signs, and the ramble of trucks passing my car door startles my soul. Add the fact that I am sitting next to the final contestant from ‘Dancing with the Stars’ in the driver’s seat, you can understand my apprehension.
As she checked her phone for messages, from the safety of the middle lane, I felt the car veer to the right. Only after we crossed over the solid line, did Diane flip the right-hand turn signal on.
“You did not plan to make that lane change,” I admonished her.
Caught in the lie, she challenged my assumption. “I did, we have to take the next exit.”
The next exit was twelve miles away.
“Don’t cut it so close, next time,” I chided.
After I told my sister of my intention of writing this blog post, she gave me a few facts I was not aware of.
To begin with, the police have stopped her five times over the last nine years. You may not think that is a lot, but in each instance, she was clocked at well over the posted speed limit.
Once, while she sped through a small town, rushing to pick up one of her sons from school, the officer that pulled her over informed her that she was going ‘forty miles over the speed limit’. What did Diane do? She cried and blathered about her son being left alone at the school.
He gave her a warning, and an escort to the nearest highway.
If I sneeze, I’m issued a ticket.
After she bought a new van, she breezed through another town, going forty-five in a twenty-five-mile zone. Police pull her over, she informed the officer that, this being a new vehicle, she had no insurance or registration card on her (all with shaky hands and teary eyes). He asks, ‘how is your driving record?’ she tells him fine.
He checked her license and said, “It’s your lucky day, we have the same birthday” and let her go with a warning.
While driving one night with our sister-in-law, a State Trooper observed her arms flailing while she drove. Diane explained that she always talks like that with her sister-in-law; they have very energized conversations.
The Trooper asked where she was coming from. Diane explained she visited her son, Sam, who lives at a school for children with disabilities.
The Trooper says, “You have enough problems, I’m letting you off with just a warning”.
A few miles down the road, Diane slammed on her brakes, looked at our sister-in-law and shouts, “I have enough problems! Who the hell is he to tell me, ‘I have enough problems’?”
It took all her power of persuasion for my sister-in-law to keep my sister from turning the car around to give that Trooper a piece of her mind.
Warnings? Police escorts? What is it going to take to get this menace off our highways?
We had less trouble capturing bin Laden.